Oregon has a reputation for being business-friendly, due to its flourishing economy, highly educated workforce, and affordable cost of living. The area is also popular because of its stunning location, robust transportation infrastructure, and wealth of natural resources. Despite the fact that the “Beaver State” is home to large corporations like Nike and Intel, the majority of Oregon’s businesses are small ones. Oregon provides favorable tax policies, incentive programs, and government support for small enterprises.
Creating the ideal environment for businesses to serve their consumers is the central goal of commercial architecture, and an important component for business-owners to consider. The details of a business space have the capacity to establish an environment that is inviting to both new and repeat consumers. Therefore, featured here are the best commercial architects in Portland, Oregon, each of which has worked on numerous noteworthy and award-winning projects. These companies are also led by principals and architects who have extensive experience delivering innovative and practical solutions to their clients.
Works Progress Architecture
811 SE Stark St. #210, Portland, OR 97214
For 18 years, Works Progress Architecture (W.PA) has worked with communities and areas undergoing development. It has considerable expertise working on a variety of project types, including large-scale corporate mixed-use complexes, multifamily mixed-use developments, and hospitality and entertainment facilities. The firm’s other projects have included conventional high-rise construction sites, concert halls, and upscale single-family homes. W.PA has also been collaborating on urban planning initiatives and is leading the charge to expand the use of heavy timber in Type One and Type Two construction in Oregon and California.
Highlighted here is one of the firm’s award-winning projects, the Portland Flatiron building, which won the 2020 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Northwest and Pacific Region Design Awards Merit Award. It was also featured on Dezeen, Portland Business Journal, and DJC. The building is a timber-framed mixed-use building located at the edge of a sloping triangular site. Each of the five-floor plates is an open loft space that measures around 5,000 square feet and is supported by wood beams and columns. The floors are cross-laminated timber that feature slabs of concrete on top. Unique triangular geometry and a sizable grade shift are also located throughout the project, a layout that allowed the connection of three formally independent elevations, and allowed for interspersed windows with open areas at the building’s corners.
4713 N Albina Ave. 4th Floor, Portland, OR 97217
Established in 2005 by Architect Carrie Strickland, LEVER is known for its innovative use of construction materials, superior design solutions, and eco-friendly equipment. The firm’s commitment to this initiative has earned it funding of two million dollars, which has allowed it to be a leading architectural firm in the field. It has received widespread industry recognition, such as being named by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in the world, and by being recognized publicly by both Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard and the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices.
One of the biggest industrial timber projects in the US to date is this new Adidas Headquarters campus expansion, which LEVER worked on. This expansion was meant to act as a spark for mass timber architecture to become widely used in the United States and beyond. The Gold Building has a distinctive hybrid structural system that takes advantage of the company’s experience with timber innovation. Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels, glulam beams, and pre-cast concrete girders make up its structural system. Its unique structure earned the project numerous awards, including the 2022 Building Magazine International Project of the Year, as well as awards from the Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards and Green Good Design Awards. The campus expansion is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certified project.
555 SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Suite 501, Portland, OR 97214
Hacker is an architecture and interior design studio founded by Thomas Hacker. Currently led by multiple principals, such as David Keltner, the lead designer and a LEED Accredited Professional (AP), the firm has won awards including the 2020 AIA Oregon Commercial Architecture Winner, the 2022 AIA Oregon Commercial Architecture Winner, and the 2019 ARCHITECT Magazine No. 31 Firm in the Nation. In 2013, it was recognized as AIA’s Northwest & Pacific Region Firm of the Year. It has also been featured in publications such as The Registry, Daily Journal of Commerce, Metropolis Magazine, Dezeen, and ArchDaily.
Highlighted here is one impressive project completed by the firm. The space features impressive soundproofing and lighting fixtures, a logical flow, and amenities that promote the staff’s health and well-being. Upon entry into the building, visitors and personnel are welcomed into a spacious receiving lounge, which is designated by built-in seating that lines the perimeter. The color scheme is simple, with white and blue-hued painted walls, blue textiles, concrete floors, and tambour panels that have been washed in white. The palette provides Brainium with an exquisite canvas for crafting unforgettable moments within an environment adorned with lively and dynamic digital art, seamlessly intertwining with the captivating city views. This project won the prestigious 2022 AIA Oregon Commercial Architecture award, further validating the project’s exceptional merit and innovation.
4224 N Mississippi Ave. Suite 201, Portland, OR 97217
Established in 2008, Waechter Architecture is a full-service architecture, planning, and design firm led by Architect Ben Waechter. Its portfolio of projects, which spans a variety of scales and project types, each receiving widespread critical praise and recognition. For example, Waechter Architecture was honored with the 2019 Emerging Voices Award from the Architecture League of New York and the coveted 2022 Firm Award from AIA Northwest & Pacific Region. Waechter Architecture is also recognized as an Emerging Small Business (ESB) in the State of Oregon by the Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID).
Highlighted here is one notable project, referred to as Mississippi, completed by Waechter Architecture. The strategic organizational layout of Mississippi’s services and initiatives prompted the creation of distinct zones within the office space: six identical rooms, thoughtfully arranged in three tiers on both sides of a central courtyard. The transparent expanse of these structural units serves to define spaces with flexible proportions, accommodating a variety of potential uses. These volumes also possess the versatility to function individually or collectively. Abundant natural light pours in through the building’s operable windows, creating a vibrant and well-ventilated environment. This project won numerous awards, including the 2023 Wood Works Award for Commercial/Mid-Rise and the 2023 Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design, Commercial Mixed-Use Category.
1515 SE Water Ave. Suite 100, Portland, OR 97214
The lively and inclusive culture at Mackenzie serves as a tangible manifestation of the collective achievements of the team. The firm’s enduring commitment to diversity, spanning over 60 years, coupled with their wealth of combined expertise, has been pivotal in driving their growth and evolution. Guiding the company is Dietrich Wieland, serving as both president and principal, bringing to the table a diverse array of professional skills. His extensive portfolio encompasses a wide spectrum of projects, ranging from workplaces to multifamily, retail, commercial, and strategic planning initiatives across both urban and suburban landscapes. Under Wieland’s leadership, Mackenzie places a strong emphasis on sustainability, social responsibility, and community investment, leading the charge in seamlessly integrating successful projects with their surrounding environments and communities.
This renovation project, completed by the firm, gives Autodesk’s Portland office a unique identity that was designed based on the context of the local community. The innovative concept of the tiny house trend served as the inspiration, fostering collaborative areas and inviting gathering spaces. The design meticulously curated a material palette that pays homage to the neighborhood’s rich history, thoughtfully incorporating the works of talented local designers. In 2019, this project was awarded Office Redevelopment of the Year by National Association for Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP), the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), and the Construction Advisory Board (CAB). In the same year, the firm was also honored as an honorable mention in DJC’s Top Projects and Design Awards Fast Company Innovation Workplace category.
520 SW 6th Ave. Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204
Woodblock Architecture is a full-service architecture firm led by Dave Hardister, Brian Peters, Jonathan Dunn, and Michael Parshall. Hardister, an experienced licensed architect, has over 30 years of experience in the field and is licensed in numerous states including Oregon. Peters, the managing principal, is also a licensed architect, with almost 20 years in the business. Dunn, who is affiliated with the AIA and is a LEED Accredited Professional (AP), is a licensed architect who particularly possesses in-depth knowledge of the retail, office, and cannabis sectors. Parshall is also a licensed architect, having gained his architecture license in early 2021.
Showcased here is one impressive project completed by Woodblock Architecture. This project is a five-story urban hostel set in an up-and-coming area of Portland’s East Side Burnside Corridor. The 88-room, 284-bed Lolo Pass Portland Hotel and Hostel offer both simple private rooms along with dormitory-style communal quarters. Every element of the design, including the spacious rooftop patio, full-service restaurant, coffee shop, and rentable event space, was developed to provide a location where locals and visitors can mingle, exchange stories, and merge the familiar with the exotic.
Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio
915 NW 19th Ave. Studio C, Portland, OR 97209
Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio is a multidisciplinary studio renowned for its exquisite interior designs and carefully curated architectural structures. For more than 13 years, the company has worked with numerous local, national, and international clients on projects in the commercial, hospitality, residential, medical, and display design sectors. The company’s operations are led by Jeff Guggenheim, the main architect, and Jenny Guggenheim, the principal designer and design director, both of whom are LEED APs. Jeff’s expertise is underscored by his reception of the 2018 and 2021 Young Architect Award from AIA National and AIA Portland, while Jenny’s strong foundation has produced numerous successful and award-winning projects in the retail, residential, and commercial markets.
Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio has received a variety of other recognition over the years as well. This includes the 2021 AIA Emerging Firm Studio Award and the 2017 AIA Portland Citation Award for Unbuilt Category. For the project featured here, the firm won the 2019 International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Design Excellence Awards Best of Restaurant. In this award-winning project, the firm designed a huge, 26-seat bar, built like a racetrack, serving as a centering and directing element. The bar appears to have grown out of the floor, as it was created by a local precast concrete fabricator. Each finish featured in the bar is rich in terms of texture, appearance, and haptics. The result is the stunning and unique space you see before you.
3514 N Vancouver Ave. Suite 310, Portland, OR 97227
Established in 2013, YBA Architects is a Portland-based firm offering a comprehensive range of architectural, planning, and interior design services. Alex Yale, president, and Matt Brown, vice president, are currently leading the firm. Yale has over 10 years of expertise in implementing mixed-use, transit-oriented developments, as well as designing institutional, residential, and mixed-use projects with intricate site plans and programmatic requirements. Brown, meanwhile, has more than 15 years of experience, and has worked on a variety of building types, including multi-family homes in rural Oregon, government structures, and international education institutions. Brown has also created projects ranging from libraries in the Middle East to mid- to high-rise student housing complexes and urban generation projects in the UK.
In recognition of its excellence, YBA Architect has been featured in the 2016, 2019, and 2020 issues of DJC Oregon. It has also received awards such as the 2020 AIA Oregon Commercial Architecture Award for Rockwood Rising- Building A and the 2017 Structural Engineers Association of Oregon (SEAO) Excellence in Structural Engineering Award for a New Building Over $10M, which it received for its work on this featured project.