Thursday, December 22, 2011


Design and Construction has wrapped up for ISITE Design's new headquarters in NW Portland. Here are some wonderful shots taken by Scott Gerke of the finished space.

Scott Gerke has been a lifelong photographer, currently focusing his career on architectural portraiture. His clean yet striking style brings spaces alive, and Scott works hard to document the spirit and intent of architects, builders, and interior designers.  Scott also spends a great deal of time running the visual marketing department for his family's publishing business called the Moira Press. In his role, Scott takes photographs, provides visual images for business cards and web developement, and manages design jobs.  In his spare time, Scott spends time with his family at their houseboat on the Columbia River, works on his 1974 Dodge Dart, and teaches photography classes at Oregon College of Art and Craft. Scott and JP both attended Pacific NW College of Arts in the late 90s, and it was there that they developed a mutual respect for each other's artistic strengths.  Throughout the years, as JP has developed SiteWorks, Scott has been instrumental in documenting his visionary creations.  Scott has enjoyed the satisfying experience of creating beautiful shots, borne from such glorious architectural models as these.

Location Scout
PO Box 17613
Portland, OR 97217

Sunday, December 18, 2011


EcoFlats: bike-friendly and ultra efficient on Williams Avenue

EcoFlats (photo by Ben C. Gray)

Recently I toured the EcoFlats mixed-use apartment building, along North Williams Avenue in Portland with its co-developer, Jean-Pierre Veillet of Siteworks Design Build.
Williams Avenue, once the heart of a thriving African American community, is today well known as a popular bike route as well as a burgeoning retail area of restaurants, cafes and shops. The building deliberately aspires to cater to the cycling community and demographic. On the ground floor of the building, for example, is Hopworks Bike Bar. “Some 3,000 riders a day pass by Mr. Ettinger’s new brewpub,” the New York Times’ Linda Baker writes of Hopworks in a recent feature about the neighborhood and catering to cyclists. “It has racks for 75 bicycles and free locks, to-go entrees that fit in bicycle water-bottle cages, and dozens of handmade bicycle frames suspended over the bar areas.”
There are no automobile parking spaces for tenants, but the 18-unit building has storage for 30 bikes. “Cyclists are a great potential market for businesses that want people traveling at human-scale speed and will stop and buy something,” Roger Geller, the city’s bicycle coordinator, also told Baker.
Hopworks Bike Bar on the EcoFlats ground floor (photo by Scott Gerke)
Eco Flats is one of 15 building projects aiming toward net-zero operations through a pilot program launched in 2009 by Energy Trust of Oregon. Co developed by Doug Shapiro, it was designed to use approximately 60 percent less energy than a building constructed to code stipulations. Veillet says actual savings have been higher, approaching 80 percent. In the ground-floor entry to the apartments via elevator, a flat-screen TV affixed to the upper wall conveys in real time the amount of energy being used by each unit as well as how much energy is being generated by a rooftop array of solar panels.
“It took two years to convince the bank, but it was filled with tenants in 30 days,” Jean-Pierre Veillet says. “This isn’t a political statement. It’s something easy we can do now that saves 80 percent of the energy.”
The building’s architect is Works Partnership, the Portland firm that has won a slough of design awards and acclaim over the past decade for both new buildings like bSide6 and renovations like the Eastbank Commerce Center. (Rick Potestio, another of the city's top architects, also contributed early in the project.) Curiously, though, you won’t find the EcoFlats in Works Partnership’s website portfolio. This doesn’t seem to be because Works has washed its hands with its client or that there was friction. It’s a successful project economically, and I would argue aesthetically as well. But Veillet (whose work includes the expansion of Portland restaurant Genoa as well as a pop-up store in Manhattan for clothier Nau, also featured in the Times), is a  blend of builder and designer, more so than just the contractor-led method the name Siteworks Design-Build would indicate.

Ecoflats (photos by Brian Libby)

“I respect Bill and Carrie as a architects. Bill is very dynamic with his design sensibility and capturing a building in the larger built environment. Carrie is brilliance in a bottle,” Veillet says of the relationship. “But EcoFlats is not a project that was fully under their control. I had the role of main contributor of funds, was heavily involved in design, ultimately responsible to the construction, and the promoter to the banks and PDC to gather their support. They are not a stamp-providing architecture firm and this one is a tweener. I provided the seed, they all helped it grow, then I trimmed the bush.”
From a visual, aesthetic point of view, EcoFlats looks just like what it is: a handsome although maybe not outright beautiful building that resembles Works projects like bSide 6 in the three dimensional quality of its façade, yet perhaps lacks the detail and rigor of a full-fledged Works Partnership piece of architecture. Yet this wasn’t something Veillet and Works fell into; at least from Veillet’s point of view, it was an intentional, pragmatic move that has resulted in exceptional efficiency yet reasonable rental rates.

EcoFlats (photos by Ben C. Gray)
What’s more, although the EcoFlats look is not a rigidly pristine one, it has a slightly rough-and-tumble quality that is not unsuccessful. The more I got to know the building, the more I came to like it.  That’s in part because of materials such as reclaimed timber used in the upstairs walkway, or ceramic-coated siding, a Japanese import that modulates the building’s temperature swings by absorbing heat or cold and ventilating it before the building core absorbs it.
I also particularly enjoyed the metal-mesh screens on the front facade and how they appear almost like drapery only more industrial. The facade here seems reminiscent to my eyes not only of Works' bSide6 but also Holst Architecture's celebrated Belmont Lofts.
And you can’t talk about the building of the EcoFlats without considering the timing: a so-called Great Recession in which government and nonprofit incentives exist for green projects but banks have been extraordinarily reluctant to lend. That Veillet was able to line up support and collaboration from the Portland Development Commission, the Energy Trust of Oregon to make his project both pencil out and receive funding is no small feat.



EcoFlats interior and back courtyard (photos by Ben C. Gray)
In the end, there are buildings that win awards for their sculptural quality, and others which find their prestige being certified by LEED or other green building rating systems, but both are a small minority of what gets built. I think of the EcoFlats as an efficient building like those with green certifications, and more than hinting at the kind of design presence on the street that turns heads, be they of passers by or design juries. If it’s more of a DIY version that wears its pragmatism on its sleeve, the EcoFlats also delivers ample helpings of both function and form, all at a time when the wheels of the building machine have been grinding at their slowest time in a generation. It’s hard not to hoist a mug of beer or pipe a bike wheelie in response.

Friday, December 16, 2011


That was the fun fact that jumped out in the review of an article from the English newspaper The Guardian that made the case for biking as a way to take a meaningful bite out of Europe's carbon emissions.
If the entire European Union boasted average cycling miles like Denmark's the region's emissions would drop by 25 percent. This according to the European Cycling Foundation.
But a cool infographic from a Northwest coalition of health care management advocates also points out the health benefits of bike commuting. For example: The average worker will lose 13 pounds in their first year of biking to work.
New Years resolutions anyone?
The group also posits that Portland's investment in bike-commuting infrastructure will save the city millions in health care expenses.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We are putting the finishing touches on the remodel of an old fitness center into the new headquarters building for ISITE Design. Here is a sneak peek at the finished space.

south elevation

corridor to office spaces

container conference room

workstations w/ felt panels & custom LED lighting

looking north to brainstorming room

brainstorming room entry

director's office exterior

open office area looking northeast

workstations w/ director's offices beyond

corridor with clerestory above, looking north

Monday, October 17, 2011


ISITE Design captured the arrival of the first shipping container that will create the main conference room in their new headquarters building. Check out the video!
Also included is a photo montage showing the history of the containers as they make their way to ISITE.

Monday, September 26, 2011


What makes a company successful? For many, the answer is fairly simple: it results from the hard work of those who want to see it succeed the most. For Siteworks Design Build, based in Portland, that person is founder and president Jean-Pierre Veillet. Veillet, who has an educational background in sculpture, started Siteworks Design Build in 1994 as a small operation and focused on doing construction for other designers and architects, however, the company was soon branching out after its creation. Says Veillet, “[Siteworks] hired our own staff and began to see the efficiency of connecting design to construction for the client.” Siteworks now does both commercial and residential projects, but values both equally. “Commercial has tighter time lines, but a clear vision from experienced individuals. Residential is more home spun—like working with a friend,” he explains.
Throughout the company’s continued expansion, one thing is clear—Veillet has always been very much on board with green building. “Every single project of ours has been about being [sustainable].” He also encourages other builders in their green endeavors. “I feel like we need to address the rest of the people and encourage green building at every level of construction, especially because many things are basic enough that every project could be doing it if they had the tools and connections,” Veillet adds. He is so passionate about green building; Veillet even goes as far as to offer a list of reasons—that any company can use—why going green is valuable to the bottom line of a project (see sidebar).
The green revolution that Veillet is a huge part of is clearly evident in Siteworks’ many projects, all of which are now tied to LEED standards and guidelines. In fact, the company completed one of the original LEED projects in Oregon in 2001—the ODE to Roses Building for architect and owner Kevin Cavenaugh. “The [ODE to Roses Building] was a pioneer project that combined the challenges of small budgets, sustainable practices, and design,” explains Veillet. “It was successful on all fronts.”
LEED has clearly become a must for green building, and Veillet says that everything the company does going forward will somehow be tied to it. However, Siteworks excels by going beyond the point systems of LEED, as well as addressing other issues prevalent in design and building. “We still go beyond the point system in many ways that LEED does not quantify,” Veillet says. He adds, “With that said, there are several other non-LEED issues we are addressing in the community, such as affordability and transportation.”
One of Siteworks’ latest projects is the North Williams project, a LEED Platinum mixed-use commercial building, which will include an apartment complex and restaurant space. According to Veillet, one of the goals of the North Williams project was to create a sustainable development model. “It is a no-parking building with bike lockers at the main entry so you can put your bike away before you go up to your [energy] efficient 600-square-foot apartment. We will generate 21 kilowatts of electricity on site with solar [panels]. Our restaurant tenant will be engaging the urban farm principals as well as working with the surrounding community to create jobs and job training. We will be able to grow vegetables and herbs on site,” says Veillet.
So, how does Siteworks market itself? According to Veillet, it is mostly by word of mouth, web advertising, and small ads. However, it is clear that Siteworks’ commitment to the work and the customer is what makes them so successful in a very cut-throat industry. Says Veillet, “The clients need to be able to get what they want and can afford…This is why [Siteworks] is doing so well now. It is less expensive to the client, it is faster to do, and it represents the ability to make every project unique and creative.” He adds, “There is a sense of warmth and comfort to what were doing.” And this definitely equals success for Siteworks Design Build.
President and founder of Siteworks Design Build Jean-Pierre Veillet lays out guidelines out that connect sustainability to the bottom line.
The Bottom Line for Going Green:
• If energy is a concern for the future we need to start building highly efficient building now. The cost of living is not just in the sale price or rent; energy counts every day to the bottom line.
• Design for efficiency and durability to save on maintenance costs therefore saving in the future.
• Save construction cost by not having unnecessary items, such as conditioned common areas.
• By removing an elevator and planning ADA units on the ground floor, you can save construction costs, energy consumption and ADA requirements on the upper floors which saves costs normally passed on to tenants and buyers. Therefore, you are more affordable.
• Giving plenty of daylight to save electricity and making the space more livable save energy and can be more affordable.
• Use concrete floors for durable and dependable lasting structures and finishes. This saves cost on carpeting, replacement and maintenance.
For more information visit: Siteworks Design Build online
by: Megan Cotugno

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Web design firm moving to Northwest Portland warehouse

POSTED: Friday, September 16, 2011 at 03:16 PM PT
BY: Sam Tenney, Daily Journal of Commerce 

An 18,000-square-foot warehouse building in Northwest Portland is being fully renovated by Siteworks for Web design firm ISITE Design.  The building will feature an open-office design, and will also contain 10 directors’ offices, a brainstorming room, kitchen/break room, restrooms with showers for bicycle commuters and a private room for nursing mothers.  The building will also contain a community room for use by local residents, a café and incubation space intended to draw a startup tech business.  Work on the project began in June and is expected to be completed in December. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Developers Cater to Two-Wheeled Traffic in Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Christian Ettinger, the owner of Hopworks Urban Brewery here, is a longtime bicycle enthusiast. He grew up riding around the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego, and now owns six bicycles — ”two if my wife is asking” — and races in cyclocross events. So when he decided to open a second brewpub this summer, he settled on a location that reflected his passion: North Williams Avenue, one of the most-used commuter cycling corridors in a city already mad for all things two-wheeled.
Daniel Pasley for The New York Times
Jean-Pierre Veillet, the developer of the EcoFlats complex.
Daniel Pasley for The New York Times
An indoor bike rack at EcoFlats.
Some 3,000 riders a day pass by Mr. Ettinger’s new brewpub, which he calls the Hopworks BikeBar. It has racks for 75 bicycles and free locks, to-go entrees that fit in bicycle water bottle cages, and dozens of handmade bicycle frames suspended over the bar areas.
Portland is nationally recognized as a leader in the movement to create bicycle-friendly cities. About 7 percent of commuters here travel by bike (the national average is under 1 percent) and the city has an ambitious plan, adopted last year, to increase that proportion to 25 percent by 2030.
Until recently, Portland’s bike initiatives focused on improving the transportation infrastructure, said Roger Geller, the city’s bicycle coordinator. But as businesses awaken to the purchasing power of cyclists, “bicycle-supported developments” are also beginning to appear around town, Mr. Geller said. These are residential and commercial projects built near popular bikeways and outfitted with cycling-related services and amenities.
“The change is coming from the private sector,” Mr. Geller said. “Cyclists are a great potential market for businesses that want people traveling at human-scale speed and will stop and buy something.”
The North Williams business cluster, about two miles northeast of downtown, is the most prominent example of this type of development. In addition to the BikeBar at 3907 North Williams, a two-block stretch of the street houses the United Bicycle Institute, which teaches bike repair and frame building, at No. 3961; the Friendly Bike Guest House, a hostel that caters to cyclists, at No. 4039; andEcoFlats, an 18-unit rental apartment building with a 30-unit bicycle rack in the lobby but no dedicated vehicle parking. The BikeBar is on the ground floor of the EcoFlats building, which also has a shower for commercial tenant commuters. At No. 3901 is Pix Patisserie, featuring an on-street bike parking corral, one of 67 that have been installed by the city, typically at the request of businesses owners.
”The vision is businesses oriented toward bicycles,” said John Baxter, the administrator of the United Bicycle Institute.
But not everyone is unreservedly enthusiastic about the district’s new orientation. Located in a historic African-American community, the North Williams businesses are almost exclusively white-owned, and many residents see bicycles as a symbol of the gentrification taking place in the neighborhood.
“North Williams has grown to be a bike neighborhood out of gentrification,” said Debora Leopold Hutchins, the chairwoman of the North Williams Stakeholder Advisory Committee, a group helping oversee proposed traffic changes. Ms. Hutchins, who organizes an African-American women’s cycling group, said she loves cycling. But, she said, “The process has not been inclusive of the people who live there.”
A proposal this summer to remove a lane of automobile traffic for bikes on North Williams set off an outcry from residents. That proposal has been tabled while the city conducts more outreach with the neighborhood.
And as businesses and developers around the city jump on the bicycle bandwagon, other concerns about the fledgling bike-friendly projects are emerging: namely, that there is a bit of “bikewashing” going on as cycling becomes a marketing tool in a city where the vast majority still get around by car.
“People say: ‘I own piece of land. I want to build a bike building,’ ” said Jean-Pierre Veillet, the developer of the $3.4 million EcoFlats complex, which was fully leased within a month of opening last March. “Well, you can’t just throw up a building; you have to go where the bikeways and the people on bikes are going to be.”
Located in North Portland, an area that has one of the highest rates of biking for work trips, North Williams Avenue parallels Interstate 5 and is one of the area’s flattest cross-town bike routes. As a result, “the bike traffic is just phenomenal — it’s just one cyclist after another going by,” Mr. Baxter said.
Mr. Ettinger said he was so taken with the mass of cyclists that he installed a sidewalk bar so patrons could watch what he calls “Cat 6 commuter racing.” (Amateur bicycle racing in America is divided into categories, with Cat 1 events for the elite riders and 5 for beginners.)
Christopher Frick, a Portland real estate agent, said the number of cyclists helped persuade him to convert a duplex he owned last year into the Friendly Bike Guest House, a 2,025-square-foot space that includes indoor bike parking and a 500-square-foot “repair area, bike lock and gear dump.” The guest house is aimed at students enrolled in the United Bicycle Institute.
Other new developments around Portland are acknowledging the city’s bicycle craze. Two miles northwest of the North Williams Avenue district isKillingsworth Station, a 60,000-square-foot mixed-use project built by the Winkler Development Corporation that has alcoves for bike parking on each floor and a bike lobby with a hard floor surface, access to a repair station and easy bike entry. ”You hit a button and the door opens,” said Shawn Sullivan, the development manager for Winkler.
And in Southeast Portland, the national homebuilder D. R. Horton is building a 29-unit condominium complex advertised on city buses as “a whole new kind of neighborhood,” with a picture of a bicycle substituting for the final syllable.
Some view these projects with a critical eye. “Have you seen the ‘Portlandia‘ sketch ‘put a bird on it’ ”? asked Kirsten Kaufman, a real estate agent, referring to the IFC cable show that pokes fun at Portland life. “Well, this is a case of ‘put a bike on it.’ ”
Ms. Kaufman, who has carved out a niche showing clients homes by bike, said the Horton complex lacked sufficient bike storage, especially “for people with cargo trailers who want to run errands on their bike.” The project is located a few blocks from a popular bikeway, the Clinton Street bike boulevard.
Jessica Hansen, a Horton spokeswoman, declined comment.
In addition to the bike amenities, Killingsworth Station includes 57 car parking spaces — one for each housing unit. “It’s an ironic twist,” said Mr. Sullivan, adding that the spaces were a concession to neighbors who did not want residents or visitors at the condominium parking in front of their homes.
As the city presses forward with more ambitious bike transportation projects, some of the contradictions associated with the current crop of developments may be resolved. Ten years ago, Portland pioneered the return of the streetcar, an effort that has since helped generate several billion dollars in private development, including office space, condos and affordable housing. That kind of deliberate “transit-oriented development” has yet to be replicated with bicycles, Mr. Geller said.
But, he said, the city’s Bureau of Transportation is now considering working with the Bureau of Planning on such bicycle-oriented developments, possibly connected to “cycle tracks” — physically separated bike lanes that have some of the permanence of a streetcar line.
Mr. Veillet, of EcoFlats, said the developments on North Williams were a step in that direction. “The bikeway started exploding,” he said. “It was the perfect place for a bike building."

Thursday, September 1, 2011


36 Hours in Portland, Ore.


click to view email online

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Small-business loans back on the upswing in the Portland area

Published: Monday, August 29, 2011, 9:20 PM     Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 9:26 AM
isite design.JPGView full sizeSasha Rotecki, an electrician with Ochsner Electric Co., works on the future headquarters of Isite Design. The company plans to move into the Northwest Portland space after securing a $3 million loan from Wells Fargo backed by the Small Business Administration.
Correction appended
Space and time were running short last fall at Isite Design's headquarters in Old Town. The growing company needed more space for new workers and its lease was coming due.
The digital strategy and design agency decided to buy permanent digs. "We're expanding and we're going to continue to expand," said chief operating officer Kevin Mackie as he stood in the Northwest Portland warehouse that will become the company's headquarters.
To finance the deal, Wells Fargo lenders helped the company land a $3 million loan backed by the Small Business Administration.
It's the kind of strategic move companies across the region make all the time -- but only if they have access to capital. Credit to small businesses has been in short supply over the last couple of years, since the beginning of a recession blamed in part on lax bank lending standards.

isite2.JPGView full sizeCables run from boxes piled in a Northwest Portland warehouse that will become the headquarters of local web agency Isite Design. The site, on Northwest Overton Street between 21st and 22nd avenues, will house the company's 45 Portland employees when it is finished in November.
In the Portland area, at least, things seem to be opening back up. Small businesses are borrowing more, and banks are approving larger applications.

The average loan backed by the SBA's most popular program has grown nearly 70 percent this fiscal year, according to the office's most recent statistics. Borrowers are walking out the door with approvals averaging $330,000 this year, up from $195,000 the previous year, which ended in September 2010.
The numbers are driven up in part by high-dollar real estate and equipment purchases, said Tom Taylor, Wells Fargo regional vice president in charge of its business banking division.
"Businesses are starting to feel better about expansion," he said. "For the last three or four years, business owners didn't feel that great about expanding."
isite3.JPGKevin Mackie, chief financial officer of Isite Design, walks through the Northwest Portland construction site that will eventually be the company's headquarters. Mackie said the company's $3 million Small Business Administration loan made purchasing the building a viable option for the company.
The 7(a) loan, the SBA's most broad and popular option, helps finance expenses up to $5 million, such as expansion, property and working capital. The program backs between 75 and 85 percent of that risk up to $3.75 million. Borrowers, in turn, get lower rates and longer terms than the conventional market offers.
Banks see the SBA as a way to backstop their risk in a flatlining economy. Congress views it as a vehicle to drive spending. Among other provisions, the Small Business Jobs Act, passed in September, increased 7(a) loan limits from $2 million to $5 million.
The change has opened a vein of financing for companies considered safer bets: businesses with steady revenue, growth and vision. Those borrowers are taking advantage of low labor and property costs and lining up larger loans, said Jennifer Baker, spokesperson for the Portland district SBA office.
"There are definitely a lot of opportunities that stemmed from the economic downturn," Baker said.
Demand for small business loans started picking up in October, said Dan Mogck, KeyBank's vice president of business banking in the Portland district. The SBA has backed a quarter of its regional business loans this year, he said, a higher than usual share. The bank added a second SBA specialist to its Portland market handle the demand.
"In the economic environment we're in," Mogck said, "SBA becomes a real viable option."
KeyBank's 7(a) loan volume jumped from $3.9 million last year to $15.2 million through the first 10 months of the fiscal year. The loans went to 74 borrowers.

Find out more about Small Business Administration lending programs in the Portland area.  
In all, banks have approved 638 loans worth a total $210.6 million in the region. That total is on track to beat the previous three years' tallies.
Isite Design expects to grow 20 percent this year, said Mackie, as he walked through the shell of its future home, on Northwest Overton Street near 22nd Avenue. The firm, which has offices in Boston and Los Angeles, brought in $6.9 million in revenue in 2010, he said.
The company plans to hire 10 people in the next year, nearly filling the new 18,000-square-foot space. The 45 current Portland employees are on track to move into the new space in November.
Mackie credited the SBA's 25-year payback terms with making the purchase fit into the company's long-term financial model. The company also secured a $100,000 loan from the Portland Development commission in June.
"Loans are never pain-free, but I can't imagine it going better for us," Mackie said.
This story reflects a correction that will be published in Tuesday's paper. Kevin Mackie serves as the chief operating officer of Isite Design. A story in Monday's paper misstated his job title

--Molly Young; Twitter 
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