Eye-popping plan: Giant towers in Pearl District

Designers to propose building this on the site of the USPS headquarters

Renderings of towers proposed for the Pearl District, including one 970-feet tall and connected by a glass-enclosed botanical bridge, November 13, 2017 (Courtesy: William Kaven Architecture and Kaven + Co.)
Renderings of towers proposed for the Pearl District, including one 970-feet tall and connected by a glass-enclosed botanical bridge, November 13, 2017 (Courtesy: William Kaven Architecture and Kaven + Co.)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Picture this: Two skyscrapers towering over the Pearl District, connected by a glass-enclosed botanical bridge that is higher than any building in Portland now, surrounded by other high-rises that include retail, office, hospitality and residential spots.

This spot would also include a transportation hub for high-speed rail and possibly a Hyperloop near Union Station, the Greyhound Station plus Streetcar and bus stops.

Overall, this site would bring about 5 million square feet of new development to the city in the spot where the US Postal Service headquarters will be demolished.

Can you see it?

Even if you can’t, the designers at William Kaven Architecture and Kaven + Co. can. And they intend to propose this to Portland city officials as soon as Prosper Portland allows.

One of the 2 towers “exceed 970 vertical feet, would be interlinked by a glass-enclosed botanical bridge spanning 236 feet across the North Park Blocks some 680 feet in the air,” their press release states. The botanical bridge “would be a tropical respite from the gray of the city at any time of the year and provide breathtaking views of Mt. Hood and the entire city skyline.”

Currently, the Wells Fargo Center is the tallest building in Portland at 546 feet. The US Bancorp Tower — aka, Big Pink — is just 10 feet shorter, and the KOIN Tower is 509 feet tall.

This graphic shows the current tallest buildings in Portland next to a proposed tower in the Pearl District, November 14, 2017 (KOIN)
This graphic shows the current tallest buildings in Portland next to a proposed tower in the Pearl District, November 14, 2017 (KOIN)

One hurdle in the plan is the current height limits for the site only go up to 400 feet. Architect Daniel Kaven is hoping the Portland City Council will consider zoning changes in the future.

The eye-popping proposal would be an “opportunity to lead the effort to build a bullet train network that links Portland to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver from the heart of an already-existing downtown transportation hub. There is no better place, nor a better time, than the opportunity that is upon us, with this huge site next to our historic train station,” Kaven said in the release.

The project also has an eye on sustainability and clean energy, as the plan would include “on-site power generation from photovoltaics integrated within the glazing.”

Architect Daniel Kaven in his Portland office, November 14, 2017 (KOIN)
Architect Daniel Kaven in his Portland office, November 14, 2017 (KOIN)

Project leaders also said the towers would be big enough to be the corporate headquarters “for a Fortune 100 company, such as Amazon.”

Amazon, currently based 3 hours north in Seattle, has accepted bids from cities who want to have their second headquarters, including one from Portland recently. In that plan, Portland city leaders offered no incentives to Amazon. Instead they offered Amazon the opportunity to purchase land in the downtown U.S. Post Office distribution center for its proposed new national headquarters.

Kaven told KOIN 6 News Portland doesn’t have any iconic destination monuments, and his proposal would be just that.

“It can attract business, it can attract tourism, it can have a huge financial impact,” Kaven told KOIN 6 News. “It makes sense for Portland to focus that effort in the downtown area. We already have the density there, and that’s the place to do it.”

Prosper Portland’s Shawn Uhlman said the “32 acres in the central city with amazing transit connections is a truly unique opportunity, and that’s something that we’re looking for here.”

The agency (formerly known as Portland Development Commission) began taking proposals for development partners last week to transform the area into something that benefits the entire community.

“It’s not serving the US Postal Service effectively anymore and, obviously, what’s happening all around it is not in line with the development that’s occurring,” Uhlman said.

The audacious plan revealed by the press release did not include a price tag for the venture, nor how it would be paid for. Those details will be fleshed out when they officially submit their plan to Prosper Portland in the 1st quarter of 2018.