Portland Centennial Mills Visitor Center

by Massimiliano Orzi

The proposal for the Centennial Mills river front site focuses on creating an active connection between the site and its surroundings. This project gives us the opportunity to conceive a landscape urbanism that can really produce an exciting identity for the city as well as an environment that inspires visitors to the centennial mill site. The visitor center is housed in the Flour Mill, the proposal is structured to allow the building to be reused entirely, with the addition of a structure that links the new visitor center with the street. By means of a covered public plaza which is elevated from the ground and is accessed through stairs leading to it.

People would be able to sit on the steps, on the grass and under the plaza. Viewers from the street level can see through the building into the visitor center, in fact the cantilevered piece is intended to be a public living room to the street offerring both views from the inside of the building and a clear view of the interior activities from the street. Other buildings on the site are also retained in this scheme: the Feed mill, part of Grain elevator A, the grain elevator C, and the MPU Paddock. These buildings where preserved for their cultural value and their current condition, contributing to the visitor’s experience and could be developed and restored at a later stage. The rest of the buildings are removed mainly because they obstruct access through the site and the riverfront.

The project was designed to create a balance between contemporary architecture and the vernacular of the surrounding area and the characteristics of the centennial mill in order to inspire visitors.

The proposal takes advantage of the climatic conditions of the site and the proximity to the Willamette River by using a series of passive and active strategies in order to to achieve a carbon neutral building.

The new podium-park is designed to creates a connection between city,river front-and the relict buildings. Instead of filling the site with new soil it takes advantage of the site’s substructure.

The park contains features that help visitors navigate the site, and is designed for various outdoor activities including dierent typologies of green space, an outdoor amphitheater, a bird park, covered areas and it also was modied to slope towards the river at specic points.

This makes it more exciting for visitors but also creates a micro habitat for the local flora and fauna to flourish.




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