The Portland Armory Gerding Theatre

Experience Narrative ,

Inspiring an anticipation of discovery.
The Portland Armory had a rich and varied history. It was also on the verge of falling down. Gerding Edlen Development imagined Portland Center Stage taking ownership of the building in a complex arrangement of Federal Tax Credits, fund-raising and financing backed by the City of Portland. The backing of the city changed the nature of the public spaces in the building. The public now had a stake, so the Armory needed more than just a theater lobby.When the process began, there were cries in the media of the deal enriching a small group of developers while ignoring other neighborhoods. But after a city-wide dialogue with stakeholders, design recommendations were successful enough that the project is now seen as an enormous success. So much so, the sliver park we recommended next to the theatre is named for Mayor Vera Katz.

A seeping water wall tells this building’s story of sustainability.
Twenty five feet from the entrance is a 50-foot wall of water, trickling through every floor of the building.

Water is a primal and peaceful gathering place for animals – humans included. It is also an essential part of local culture. Portland has rain, rivers, bridges, fountains and watersheds. The water is flowing not just down the building, but through it. The seep wall culminates in a 15,000 gallon cistern at the lowest level of the theatre lobby, then out to the Vera Katz Sliver Park. It is a monument to sustainability.

An interactive media wall adapts to different audiences at different times.
A bank of flat-panel monitors recessed into a wall of sustainably harvested wood housing three interactive kiosks that allow you to do any number of things:
Learn about the Armory’s history.
Learn the sustainable features of this Platinum LEED building.
Learn about Portland Center Stage, its history, the current season, a playbill, anything PCS wants people know.

History is embedded in the walls.
Fused glass bricks are backed with photographs and historical facts and anecdotes. This creates a composition on the west wall as they replace a small number of original bricks.

Historical artifacts are displayed in simple contemporary recesses in areas where new walls are erected. Bright colors make them easy to find, and underscore the meeting of old and new in this historic place.