Architect Lucy O'Sullivan of Works Progress Architecture
Since moving stateside a few years ago, UK-born architect Lucy O’Sullivan has taken on a critical role in several of Portland, Oregon’s newest developments through her position as a lead architect with Works Progress Architecture (W.PA), most notably the 7 South East Stark building, which is slated to break ground later this month.
As an architect at W.PA, O’Sullivan has been central to the development of the city’s 7 SE Stark building, which the firm is developing on behalf of Harsch Investment Properties.
One of the fastest growing office markets in Portland, Oregon, the Central Eastside Industrial District has evolved in recent years to include a budding design and tech scene, and the 7 SE Stark building, is one of the district’s most exciting new additions.
O’Sullivan says, “The goal was to design a large-scale space for creative office tenants with structure parking below the office. The site is both prominent and challenging located between the freeway and the railroad, adjacent to the Willamette River, right in the heart of Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial district.”
What initially began as parking garage to serve the adjacent community of growing office spaces and the future 151 Alder building, has grown into a 70,000 square foot structure for creative office spaces, with retail spaces at ground level and 250 parking stalls below ground.
“The challenge was to incorporate a large-scale creative office building above a parking garage, and maintain a concept that connected the two elements, with two different sets of programmatic constraints,” explains O’Sullivan. “The structural frame is long-span post-tensioned concrete for the lower parking garage floors, with long-span steel frame for the office levels above. Both these structural systems allow for a largely column-free space which maximizes leasable office space and parking stalls.”
The building, which is expected to open in early 2019, features a modern design with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, expansive terraces on every floor, which provide for incredible views of the city with downtown Portland to the west and Mount Hood to the east, as well as luxury amenities, such as a fitness center with top of the line equipment.
One block north of the new 7 SE Stark building is the Olympic Mills Commerce Center, an 172,000 sq. ft. adaptive reuse project designed by W.PA in 2007 that converted an eight-story concrete grain storage warehouse into what is now a leading office space for Portland’s creative workforce. O’Sullivan says, “[The Olympic Mills project] kick-started the adaptive reuse for creative-office spaces in the Central Eastside district.”
(Artist visualization of 7 SE Stark. Image copyright 2017 Works Progress Architecture. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
An area that served as Portland’s industrial manufacturing backbone riddled with warehouses and historic significance, the Central Eastside Industrial District has evolved into a hotspot for creative and tech firm offices.
As the lead architect O’Sullivan was heavily involved in all aspects from the design to the production of the 7 SE Stark building, in addition to managing the entire team of people working to bring the structure to fruition. While she’s an expert architect with boundless creativity and a passion for building materials, some of the unique strengths that have set her apart from others in the industry is her ability to multi-task and coordinate the client, consultants and contractors, which were were vital in ensuring the efficiency of the 7 SE Stark project in particular.
Harsch Investment Properties’ Senior Vice President of Development Jim Sather says, “As the Project Architect on the $45 million development project 7 SE Stark, Lucy has shown an outstanding ability to manage the design and entitlement process, including the coordination of numerous public utility organizations. Her attention to detail and management of architectural staff and consultants has resulted in a seamless design and permitting process.”
While Lucy O’Sullivan has proven herself to be a strong creative force in the industry when it comes to architectural design, her seasoned skill handling the permitting process for the projects she leads, which require her to consult and negotiate with the city’s various departments to ensure each project complies with prescriptive codes on city, state and federal scale, is second to none.
Sather says, “Lucy’s knowledge of the entitlement process in the city of Portland has resulted in a ‘faster than normal’ receipt of building permits necessary for the commencement of construction. This has been a critical component of the project in order to take advantage of the current market conditions, making the project a viable development opportunity.”
W.PA, which tapped O’Sullivan to join the firm as a lead architect in 2015, has designed multiple award-winning structures across Portland, such as the 2017 AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Citation Award winning Slate building, Framework, which earned the 2017 American Architecture Award, the 2017 AIA Citation Award winning Doppelgänger duplex development, and many others.
Prior to moving to the U.S. Lucy O’Sullivan served as a lead architect on a number of projects in the UK whilst at Rivington Street Studio, such as the Cayley Primary School, Orchard Primary School, Godwin Junior High, London South Bank University and more. While working as an architect with Hopkins Architects, O’Sullivan was a key force in the development of London’s Brent Civic Center, a BREEAM certified building, the world's longest established method of assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings, which earned the prestigious 2015 BREEAM Award in the Mixed Use and Other Buildings Category, as well as the 2015 Regeneration and Design through Innovation Awards from RCIS, and many more.
Considered one of the UK’s greenest buildings, the £89 million structure weaved together sustainable methods utilizing natural ventilation and light for the offices, and serves as the central headquarters for Brent council departments, which were previously scattered across 14 different buildings within the borough.
O’Sullivan says, “The study of well thought out urban design, space planning and building design having a positive impact on the end-user, sometimes in ways they are not necessarily aware of; and examining how cities are evolving, both organically and through urban planning, to accommodate different working patterns, changing methods of industry and new technologies are all considerations.” She adds that “sustainable, well-crafted, efficient and thoughtful design, balanced with budget constraints” are equally important to her as an architect practicing in today’s environment.