When Portland first passed its new Inclusionary Housing requirements, proposals for new development remained on the sidelines as housing developers worked to make a new economic model financially feasible. Together with Lennar Multifamily Communities, we proposed a design for Amara that would become the city's first project approved under these new guidelines. Located on a busy intersection near downtown Portland that overlooks the North Park Blocks and West Burnside, Amara's six residential stories over ground-floor retail skillfully mixes market-rate and affordable units to bring vitality to a high-profile site in the city center.
Since Amara sits on the edge of the Pearl District, our design concept subtly translates the idea of the "gateway" into architectural expression. A crisp, tailored exterior gives Amara an elevated and fortified contemporary style. Contrasting concrete and metal with mahogany-colored windows creates depth and texture, and a water-wall feature elegantly separates the private lobby and residences from the street-facing retail spaces. A varied, tapestry-like facade of white and grey panels subtly references the Pietro Belluschi-designed AT&T building nearby.
The open front of the building faces the adjacent park to welcome people in, and its lobby visually connects to a day-lit courtyard in the center of the site. Abundant exterior glass brings sunlight into Amara's interior spaces, flooding the ground-level floor with natural light. At the sidewalk, a café with ample outdoor seating supports a bustling, social atmosphere; when it's rainy or windy, canopy coverage along the entire facade gives people welcome shelter.
Inside, three-bedroom affordable apartments are geared towards families, while the remaining 121 market-rate homes are designed with young professionals in mind. A fitness center gives residents a place to work out without leaving home. Both a rooftop deck and, downstairs, a lounge facing the courtyard encourages residents to meet up, reconnect, and build stronger community connections.