Northwest Institute of Industrial Ecology Thesis Studio


Portland Oregon is well known for its sustainability initiatives in the areas of urban planning and green building.  With the development of the Northwest Institute for Industrial Ecology (NIIE), the region can add industry to the sustainability mix. Developing sustainable industrial practices not only provides a competitive advantage to the region’s existing industrial sectors, it also enhances the region’s ability to attract new industries and economic investment.

NIIE is a catalyst project that incorporates research facilities, business incubation and public access to the riverfront. Sited along the Willamette River, just north of downtown Portland, the form is inspired by the undulating waves of the water and the desire to create semi-enclosed outdoor space that celebrates the river. Capitalizing on its adjacencies to both industry and ecology, the institute’s research focus is the development of sustainable industrial materials and processes based on ecological and natural systems principles.

The 9-acre site is broken down linearly. The bioswale and parking lot mitigates stormwater and buffers the institute from the existing industrial context. Periodic openings are punched through the curvilinear building mass and frames views of the river whether you approach from the street or the parking lot. The ground floor contains restaurant and business incubation space, while the 2nd and 3rd floors are reserved for the institute. Open office and lab spaces are oriented towards the river to maximize views and encourage collaboration and informal interactions. Private offices are buffered from the more social oriented spaces through a service spine, containing utilities, meeting rooms and essential services. A cantilevered green roof blends the structure with the site’s natural surroundings and provides covered access to the outdoors during inclement weather.