The American study Waechter Architecture was commissioned to design the Mississippi Workshop, the result of more than ten years of planning, modeling, and research. It is located on a prominent site in the vibrant Mississippi Avenue district of Portland, Oregon, in the northwestern United States.

The building was envisioned as a testing ground for sustainable building systems and timber construction technologies and as a forum for new creative conversations. The building has an area of 9,550 sqm and offers a new model for the development of sustainable and sensitive landfill.
The building designed by Waechter Architecture is made up of six rooms, stacked on three levels on each side of a shared patio and a service core. These rooms are equipped as a "plug and play" unit, a technology that allows the operating system to detect and configure internal and external peripherals, thus allowing each space to operate autonomously or as a set with others.

Mississippi Workshop is the first commercial building in Oregon to use solid wood in all of its structural components. The exterior consists of a weather-resistant steel "waterproof jacket" while the interior has concrete underfloor heating and the rest of the wooden components, this generates spaces with uncommon warmth and durability, creating a replicable and adaptable model for a building prepared for the future.
 
Mississippi Workshop by Waechter Architecture. Photograph by Lara Swimmer.


Mississippi Workshop by Waechter Architecture. Photograph by Lara Swimmer.

 

Project description by Waechter Architecture

Designed and developed by Waechter Architecture, the Mississippi Workshop is the result of over ten years of planning, modeling, and investigation. The building was conceived as a proving ground for sustainable building systems and “all-wood” construction technologies and equally, as a forum for new creative conversations.  
 
Located on a prominent site in Portland’s vibrant Mississippi Avenue district, the 9,550-square-foot building offers a new model for sustainable and sensitive infill development. In many ways, the Workshop is a 21st Century interpretation and upgrade of the classic industrial loft typology that offers a balance of character, flexibility, and timelessness.
 
Mississippi is the first commercial project in Oregon to use mass timber construction for all components of the building. Other than a ‘rain jacket’ of weathering steel on the exterior and radiant concrete flooring, all structural components and surfaces within the building are exposed wood without the need for additional finishes or fireproofing. This approach creates a simplicity and wholeness that is absent in hybrid CLT or traditional frame projects and creates spaces with uncommon warmth and durability.


Mississippi Workshop by Waechter Architecture. Photograph by Lara Swimmer.

In addition, Waechter Architecture has received a USDA / US Forest Service Wood Innovations Program grant to study the building’s performance and to identify potential applications of its innovative approach in other commercial, institutional, and residential settings.  

The organization of Mississippi creates distinct zones for programming and services. The building is comprised of six equal rooms, stacked in three tiers on each side of a shared courtyard and service core. These clear span volumes are each equipped as a “plug and play” unit with plumbing rough-ins, outlets, and anchor points to support varied configurations and allow each space to operate autonomously or as an ensemble with others.
 
The building already accommodates an array of uses. A street-facing cafe (Capitola Coffee) at ground level serves as a shared amenity for the building’s occupants and the wider community. A maker space, bicycle parking, and service area facing the alley are equipped to host workshops and support diverse forms of creative production. Waechter’s studio and meeting spaces currently occupy the second floor, and one three-bedroom residence is located on the third floor.  


Mississippi Workshop by Waechter Architecture. Photograph by Lara Swimmer.

At the same time, Mississippi is a commercial building with a civic heart. The shared open-air courtyard creates a ‘pocket park’ and space for informal gatherings that acts as a transition and retreat from the busy street, and equally, serves as a venue for diverse events, installations, and performances.
 
Every decision, from the building’s simple and clear organization to the use of healthy and highly efficient materials and building systems embodies the principles of resilience and enduring design. The ultimate goal of the project was to create a replicable and adaptive model for a future-proof building that also possesses a strong sense of identity, grace, and permanence.

More information

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Architects
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Waechter Architecture. Lead architect.- Ben Waechter.
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Project team
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Project Manager.-  Alexis Coir.

Project Architect.- Giovanni Sidari

Designer.- Duncan Scovil.
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Collaborators
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Architecture, Interiors, Construction Manager.- Waechter Architecture.

Mass Timber Fabrication.- KLH Massivholz (USA / Austria).

Mass Timber Installation.- Mustang Ridge.

Civil and Structural Engineer.- KPFF.

Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineer.- PAE.

Code / Fire Protection.- Code Unlimited.

Construction Management.- Owen Gabbert LLC, Cutwater Design & Build Solutions.

Landscaping.- Cistus Nursery.
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Client
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4224 N Mississippi LLC.
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Area
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9,950 sqm.
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Location
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Portland, Oregon, USA.
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Photography
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Lara Swimmer (building).

Jeremy Bittermann (aerials).

Sam Gehrke (event).

David Papazian (model).
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Waechter Architecture (WA) is an interdisciplinary design practice based in Portland, Oregon, USA, founded by Ben Waechter architect, in 2008.

Ben Waechter worked locally and internationally with leaders in architecture including Allied Works Architecture (Portland, OR) and world-renowned architect Renzo Piano (Genoa, Italy). Ben is an award-winning and published designer whose principles lie in providing bold forms arrived at through exercises in concept, distillation, and intelligent programming. His experience includes a wide range of building types: cultural, hospitality, commercial, and multi-family and single-family residential.

In 2019, the Architecture League of New York recognized the firm with its Emerging Voices Award, and in 2022, Waechter Architecture received the Firm Award from AIA Northwest & Pacific Region.
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