Meyer Memorial Trust Headquarters

Architecture Firm: LEVER Architecture

Owner: Meyer Memorial Trust

Location: Portland, Ore.

Project site: Brownfield

Building program type(s):  Office – 10,001 to 100,000 sf

The project re envisions a marginal landscape into a sustainable building and garden. Image: Jeremy Bittermann/JBSA

The Meyer Memorial Trust project argues that equity and sustainability are intrinsic to the idea of good design and should be celebrated in equal measure with architectural beauty. The client set this intention from the very start, working with the project team to foreground these issues and to establish rigorous equity and sustainability goals.  

This project brings an equity lens to every aspect of the process: The site was selected to create positive transformation without spurring gentrification; the project team was led by Black women and had high levels of diverse business participation; all levels of the foundation’s staff participated in the design process; the design centers equity by ensuring that access to views, light, and amenities are evenly distributed; the project’s artwork and signage celebrate stories of diversity and include diverse languages; the building’s local materials were sourced based on a criteria that considered benefit to BIPOC businesses and rural economic development.  

"This building is providing a gathering space of significant scale that is also inspiring in and of itself while observing other structural systems. This project provides positive transformation without gentrification, being a building of the community. The development through this engagement process has led to spatially detailed, well-executed spaces throughout the building." - Jury Comment

Understanding the link between social and climate justice, this project seeks to be a steward of the environment. The project began with an eco-charrette and a goal of meeting LEED v4 Platinum certification. The design converts a brownfield site into a garden campus that uses a native and adaptive plant palette and manages 100% of stormwater. The building form was developed to support the 53 kW solar photovoltaic array, and its high-performance systems reduce energy by as much as 50% and water by 35% over a code standard structure. Regional timber products are used throughout the project because wood is a renewable material that sequesters carbon. The client and project team worked with an ecological nonprofit to define criteria for sustainable material selection which included responsible forestry practices. Eighty-five percent of the wood used in the building is sustainable, with 49% being FSC-certified.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2019

Year of substantial project completion: 2020

Gross conditioned floor area: 19,800 sq ft

Number of stories: 3

Project climate zone: ASHRAE 4B

Annual hours of operation: 8

Site area: 24.937 sq ft

Project site context/setting: Urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $10,800,000

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 50

Project team

Architect and Interior Designer: LEVER Architecture  

Audio/Visual Consultant: Perfect Video Conferencing Transportation Demand  

Client: Meyer Memorial Trust

Developer: project^

Code Consultant: Code Unlimited

Consultant: Rick Williams Consulting  

Engineer - Acoustical: Acoustic Design Studio Wood  

Engineer - Civil: Standridge Design  

Engineer - MEP, LEED, Commissioning, and Low Voltage: Glumac

Engineer - Structural: KPFF Consulting  Engineers

Engineer - Traffic Study: Kittelson & Associates  

Enhanced Commissioning: BEA Consulting

Solar PV: EC Electric

Envelope Consultant: Richard Graves

Experiential Designer: Ditroen  

Furniture Procurement: Absolute Procurement  

Furniture Supply: Pacific WRO

General Contractor: O’Neill/Walsh Community Builders  

Landscape Architect: Studio  

Legal Counsel: Radler White Parks & Alexander  

Lighting Designer: O-LLC  

Permitting: Faster Permits

Sustainable Wood Consultant: Sustainable Northwest  

Specifications Writer: Michael Thrailkill  


Margaret Cavenagh, AIA, Chair, Studio Gang, Chicago

Angela Brooks, FAIA, Brooks + Scarpa, Los Angeles

Nakita Reed, AIA, NOMA, Quinn Evans, Baltimore

Z Smith, FAIA, Eskew Dumez Ripple, New Orleans

Image credits

The Kwánsǝm Yakwá Garden honors indigenous populations with an art installation and native plantings

Jeremy Bittermann/JBSA

The building’s street presence is transparent and welcoming to the community.

Jeremy Bittermann/JBSA

Prefunction space with Mass Plywood columns and western hemmlock slat ceiling.

Jeremy Bittermann/JBSA

The Mission Library features a collection focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Jeremy Bitterm/JBSA

Private office / meeting rooms provide access to daylight, natural ventilation, and views.

Jeremy Bittermann/JBSA