When Portland, Oregon reconfigured the roadways in the Central Eastside community, a 9,000-square-foot berm space was leftover from the move. To make the most of the small and oddly shaped site, Key Development teamed up with local architecture firm Skylab and Andersen Construction to use cross laminated timber (CLT) in the construction of Sideyard, a mixed-use development. The CLT components were prefabricated in a factory and then transported on-site for final assembly, a modular process that streamlined the building process and boasts environmental benefits.

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wood building with square windows on a triangular lot

Located on a busy intersection next to the YARD apartments, the Sideyard comprises a mix of retail and offices across five floors with retail located on the ground floor and workspaces placed on the top levels. Conceived as a “working class” building and gateway to the Portland Eastside community, Sideyard also emphasizes public transportation connectivity as well as pedestrian and bicycle accessibility, which has been enhanced with the addition of a ground-floor bike bar and pedestrian-friendly plaza extended from the city sidewalk. A pedestrian stair has also been integrated down from the Burnside Bridge level to Third Avenue.

Related: First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

glass walls revealing views of a city
wood beam between two walls of glass

The use of cross-laminated timber was critical to the project’s success. Because of the site’s tight footprint, construction materials could not be stored on-site for long; the modularity of the CLT panels and glulam members allowed for quick assembly of the building atop a post-tensioned concrete foundation. The interior features an industrial feel thanks to exposed concrete and timber throughout, while floor-to-ceiling glazing creates a constant connection with the surrounding neighborhood.

concrete and wood building interior
people walking and playing outside a wood building

“Cross-laminated timber is a new and sustainable building material that celebrates the inherent structural qualities of wood,” said Jill Asselineau, project director for Skylab Architecture. “This material was championed by the general contractor for its regional relevance, availability and simplicity of assemblage. Employing this mass timber system saved on both time and labor expenses. The project also used mass plywood for the interior stair structure, landings and treads. This project is one of the first to employ and elegantly demonstrate the potential of this wood product.”

+ Skylab Architecture

Photography by Stephen Miller via Skylab Architecture