Centennial Mills Visitor Center: Adaptive Re-use Connecting the City to its River

by Thomas Schmidt

The Centennial Mills site is a celebrated icon of the city’s past but currently, it can only be viewed from afar and creates a barrier to the Willamette River. This proposal threads the visitor center program across two existing buildings, linking them together and penetrating their facades. Visitors are constantly moving between the old historic buildings and new contemporary additions as they circulate through the space. This contrast highlights the history of the buildings while allowing for new uses and sustainable design strategies.

Now that it is being re-purposed as a cultural amenity, new pedestrian access is provided via a bridge that connects Fields Park to the visitor center and beyond to the river. Outdoor spaces are arranged to create street activity along Naito Parkway, facilitate interaction with the river, and demonstrate storm water management techniques.

This project is intended to be a catalyst for the site, encouraging future development. The visitor center uses only the first two levels of the existing buildings but is designed to accommodate other uses above.

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