|By Dylan Rivera, The Oregonian, Portland,
Ore.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 9, 2009 - A derelict office building that sat vacant in downtown Portland for 17 years has been transformed into what could be the most Earth-friendly hotel in the city and the Courtyard by Marriott chain.
The Courtyard by Marriott -- Portland City Center opened last month, after crews overhauled the Toronto National Building at Southwest Sixth and Oak streets.
SERA Architects designed the rehab and says it is on track to achieve gold certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, a strict green building standard that includes third-party scrutiny.
That would make it the hotel with the highest LEED rating in the city and the Courtyard portfolio. SERA also designed the Nines Hotel, which was certified LEED silver, one level below gold.
The 256-room hotel is designed to use 28 percent less energy than a conventional building, saving the equivalent energy use of 42 household a year. The design reduces carbon emissions by 25 percent compared with the requirements of the Oregon energy code.
Dual-flush toilets in guest rooms helped the building reduce water consumption by 26 percent below industry standards.
It's a massive green makeover for a building that had a checkered past. The Canadian developer that built the 13-story office building in 1980 later went bankrupt. Structural problems kept it vacant since 1990.
"It was definitely one of the uglier buildings in a very prime location," said Lisa Zangerle, an interior designer with SERA. "We were able to take the skin off the building and put a much more energy efficient skin on."
Sage Hospitality Resources of Denver, which also developed the luxury Nines Hotel in the upper floors of the Meier & Frank Building downtown, developed the Courtyard project. Like the Nines, the building needed an extensive retrofit to bring it up to modern earthquake codes. Hoffman Construction also worked on both projects.
In the $39 million Courtyard project, Sage added three stories to the structure, in addition to 5,000-square feet of meeting space, a ballroom and fitness center for the hotel.
Located on the transit mall just south of the U.S. Bancorp Tower, the building is likely to be most known locally for The Original, a 200-seat, two-story diner-themed restaurant -- or "dinerant" -- facing southwest Sixth Avenue.
The interior design also pushes beyond typical cookie cutter business hotel aesthetics. Each room has photography by local artists that depicts iconic images of the Portland area, including Oaks Amusement Park, the Made in Oregon sign and the Columbia River gorge.
"We kicked it up a notch to look a little more high-end," Zangerle said.
Gold is the second-highest rating in the LEED system, below platinum.
-- Dylan Rivera; firstname.lastname@example.org
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