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A Look Back at Adidas’ Two-Building East Village Expansion – a Design Precedent for the Future?

Adidas, KPFF Consulting Engineers, RDH Building Science Inc., Sansin Corporation, Studio O+A, DR Johnson Wood Innovations, Turner Construction Company, LEVER Architecture, Woodworks Innovation Network
Courtesy of Woodworks Innovation Network

Jack Stubbs

Adidas – founded in 1949 and headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany – has for decades been recognized as a leading global brand for apparel, shoes and accessories. The company’s slogan coined in the 1970s, “Impossible is Nothing,” has encapsulated the company’s mission and values over the years. 

Even as one of the world’s largest sportswear manufacturers, the company is not content to rest on its laurels, as evidenced by the East Village expansion project at its North American HQ of Portland, Oreg., which was begun in 2019 and completed in 2021.

Woodworks Innovation Network, a national firm that helps developers and design/construction teams to fully realize wood-based projects, released a case study called ”Adidas East Village Expansion,” which detailed how innovative timber designs helped Adidas accomplish the latest addition to its footprint.

Notably, when the company announced plans for a two-building expansion of its North American headquarters  – located at 5077-5111 N. Greeley Avenue, just south of the Arbor Lodge neighborhood – construction speed and budget were key overarching priorities of the project, the report states, with the project needing to adhere to a strict 24-month timeline.

The project team included KPFF Consulting Engineers, RDH Building Science Inc., Sansin Corporation, Studio O+A, DR Johnson Wood Innovations and Turner Construction Company.

Conforming to its long-standing competitive ethos, the company sponsored a national design competition for the North American headquarters campus expansion, which was ultimately won by Portland-based LEVER Architecture, who collaborated with the project team throughout. In terms of the design strategy for the expansion, the design and construction team utilized a combination of precast concrete and mass timber, as well as a timber post-and-beam approach for one of the buildings. The project was also LEED Gold-certified, and prefabrication was a key component throughout.

“We had to be cautious about the design we proposed. We quickly determined that the only way to hit both the timeline and budget was to use prefabrication and efficient logistics,” said Director of Technical Services at DR Johnson Wood Innovations Levi Huffman in the case study.

All of the associated efforts went towards the creation of the two-building project, which totals 213,000 square feet. The Gold Building has five floors of office space (comprising 182,000 square feet) over a new five-level, below-grade parking garage. The Performance Zone Building, constructed over an existing three-level underground garage, contains a gym, café and juice bar and roof deck. The two buildings are connected by a central sports plaza.

The realization of the two-building project did not come without its challenges, with its unique materiality and the ultimate deadline for the project both playing a key role. A more conventional concrete structure was originally considered for the Gold Building, but such a strategy was impacted by the project timeline. 

“That came with a 27-month construction schedule and Adidas had a hard 24-month deadline,” said Project Executive for Turner Construction Company Kyle Warren in the case study.

The team at LEVER Architecture used a specific combination of materials for the two buildings, including perforated precast concrete, 10- by 30-foot mass timber “cassettes” – precision-engineered offsite components – prefabricated cross-laminated timber panels, and perforated precast girders. The unique combination of materials proved particularly challenging in terms of the design for the Gold Building, while the main challenge posed by the adjacent Performance Zone Building was how to successfully build a new structure over the existing underground parking structure.

Given the complexity of the two-building project, it perhaps comes as little surprise that the strict deadline added further pressure throughout the process, detailed founding Principal of LEVER Thomas Robinson in the case study. 

“We had eight simultaneous permits under review at the same time, utilizing a fast-track process,” he noted. “Each permit was stacked on top of the other, which meant we were already digging the hole for parking under the Gold Building when we were finishing the design and detailing of the core and shell for both buildings.”

Throughout, the combination of prefabrication and timber led to a more sustainable, enduring project, while also reflecting the raw and authentic aesthetic that Adidas was looking for.

Considering Adidas’ long-term, iconic presence in Portland, the design team left no stone unturned when it came to conceptualizing and delivering the ideal project. 

“Timber’s ability to be prefabricated to precise specifications played a significant role in the project. Our use of wood allowed us to build faster, the mass timber was relatively light compared to other materials, and it was adaptable,” Robinson said. “By using wood, we created two buildings which are authentic, beautiful and sustainable…all the things Adidas wanted. This is a place where people are meant to be inspired, to innovate, and to collaborate. And timber, as a material, lies at its core.”