Raw and Honest: Revitalizing “Old Town” Portland and Shifting Spaces in Seattle

“Old town” Portland is an area with a lot of history, some of it grand, some of it not so savory. We’re excited to see this area on the up and up. One of the most recent tenants? Our friends at Ankrom Moisan Architects (AMA).

ama-new-portland-officeAMA specializes in urban architecture and recently moved their Portland offices to the new 38 Davis Building at the corner of Northwest Davis Street and Northwest Naito Parkway. The firm’s 227 Portland employees now find their work spaces on three floors and 58,000-square feet of the six-story building. The AMA team is aiming for LEED Silver certification at this new location. Within the space is a variety of storied wood bringing different history to the “Old town”.

reclaimed-softwoods-in-ama-office-by-pioneerIn the words of AMA, “Through a deliberate combination of raw, honest, and playful elements, our new workplace will better express our thought processes as we work to continually elevate design.” Exposed beams and columns, heavy steel, contemporary furniture and muted colors are joined by reclaimed hardwoods and softwoods throughout the office. The new spaces use these raw and honest elements to celebrate structure and design.

reclaimed-softwoods-ceiling-ama-portland-by-pioneerThe main conference room immediately piqued our interest with its partially painted table top. (Perhaps our conference table is in need of a new inspired finish…) The AMA conference room incorporates lighter, reflective tones on each surface. American Prairie Painted fit the plan offering brighter surfaces allowing light reflection while highlighting original surfaces acquired from their past life cladding agricultural structures.

Subtle yet powerful punches of color appear throughout AMA in Portland. In meeting areas reminiscent of booth seating Black & Tan 50/50 paneling is accented with opaque orange and blue planks. We’re loving these meeting pods; offering privacy in a more compact footprint is something we could definitely get into for our showroom/office spaces!

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Sourced from fences in the southern states, we partially plane each plank. Because no two planks are alike and each has natural variation in thickness, individual boards have a different level of surfacing, resulting in truly random areas of untouched black paint.

reclaimed-black-and-tan-5050-oak-seating-ama-office-portlandThe lobby area desk is wrapped with Grandma’s Attic Reclaimed Softwoods and has that punch of color with bright yellow wall art.

ama-portland-reclaimed-wood-desk-wrap-from-pioneerThe unrestrained design experience will be shared with co-workers and clients alike in a central meeting room. AMA notes the creative process “takes each participant through an array of knowledge, references, emotions, and memories.” Here they’ve incorporated Black & Tan 50/50 at an angle to create a mosaic of wall paneling which spills from the wall onto the ceiling.

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AMA crafted a vent by carving into Black & Tan planks. (This reminds us a bit of our ‘raked’ reclaimed wood – more on that in another post.)

A bit further up the coast, the AMA office in Seattle, WA grew quickly from a team of 3 to a group of 100 scattered throughout two buildings and multiple floors. In order to support their culture of collaboration and innovation, in early 2016 the teams relocated to Seattle’s downtown core. Preserving the authenticity of their space, structural elements were left raw and exposed. Reclaimed American Gothic Engineered Ash brings warm tones while remaining understated in the Seattle office.

seattle-architect-ag-ash_floorFocused on community, AMA designed the Seattle studio “to be welcoming to clients, visitors, consultants, and the wider design community as well. The core of the suite serves the public, and includes multiple conference rooms, a great room/lounge, materials library, print room, and model shop.”  An open stairway connects the two floors and allows a seamless flow of  Reclaimed Ash between levels.

seattle-architect-ag-ash_stairsReclaimed Ash moves up from the floor to a long meeting table within the Seattle AMA office.Reclaimed Ash moves up from the floor to a long meeting table within the Seattle AMA office.

 

Ohio State University Bleachers

The week before Christmas is never the ideal time for an acquisitions trip, but when there is an opportunity to bring home some nice pine bleachers, we pack our bags. With the students gone for the week, we were invited to Ohio State University’s Newark campus to salvage what we could of their old bleachers. Their new recreation/wellness center, Adena Hall, is in the midst of a complete renovation. Shared with Central Ohio Technical College, the updated building will be seeking LEED Certification.

img_9757Lucky for us, a graduation ceremony had been held the day before so the bleacher assembly was all pulled out and we were able to get right to work. And work it was. In 10 hours we removed more than 5,000 nuts from 5,000 carriage bolts and had freed nearly all the boards. This required plenty of awkward repetitive positioning, as we struggled to access spaces with only inches of clearance. That night we compensated ourselves with a feast of beer and barbeque at City Barbeque, which also happens to be a favorite client of ours.

city-barbequeOur other compensation was the collection of odds and ends that we found lost beneath the bleachers. A motley collection of souvenirs it was.

img_9758The next morning, after loading the material on to our flatbed, but before departing Newark, we swung by the old site of the Wehrle Stove Factory where two of us present had spent several weeks in 2010 processing and loading over 120,000 board feet of timber onto trucks bound for our shop in Farmington, NY. These timbers included a variety of wood that ranged from pine to oak to chestnut. (Only 3,500 board feet of this material remains in our inventory to date.) The site looks pretty much as we left it: barren. Hopefully future development is on the horizon.

img_9759As for the bleachers, we look forward to seeing what creative ways they will get used. We’ve now added 1,500 linear feet to our growing inventory. They’re ready and available for your next project! Game on!

 

How would you describe it?

“How would you describe Pioneer Millworks and the beauty of our products to a blind person?” Our Japanese partners asked us this very question. After posing it to members of our team we asked them to reply anonymously. We are continually impressed with the thoughtfulness and creativity of our team and wanted to share with you:

(The images in this post are from our Twitter “Texture Tuesday” collection. We’re inspired by the character, colors, and macro views of wood we find in our mill, yard, and offices. We hope you enjoy them as well!)

img_7804“The wild of nature, brought in from the outdoors. Each piece has its own story to tell, its own scars and wrinkles from a long life before us. As a whole, it’s a complex mix of swirls and patterns, tones and textures that are as intoxicating to your senses as a bite of cold vanilla ice-cream and warm caramel syrup.”

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img_7936“What a tough and interesting question. It would change the answer if the blind person had had sight and lost it, versus having always been blind. If they’d had sight, we could assume they’d understand and remember things such as colors, or wood grain, or the width and lengths of wood and how they connect. I went with the assumption that they’d never had sight:

Pioneer Millworks has reclaimed over 26 million board feet of wood across the country from industrial and agricultural structures that are no longer in use and have often fallen into disrepair. The wood we reclaim is destined for landfills, burners, or to simply rot away. Part of the beauty of using Pioneer Millworks’ products is knowing you’re helping recycle and reuse; you have a hand in keeping our planet healthy.

There is beauty in the story each plank, joist, or timber holds. Some could tell of thousands of footfalls from young men earning a living building tractors, others could tell of women striding and sitting while operating embroidery machinery, others know the skill of artisans creating ornate tiles with heavy clay and bright glazes, while still others could speak to years of abundant harvest, of severe drought, of blistering summers, freezing winters, soft spring rains, and the gentle sounds of livestock settling as nights slid over the farm more than a hundred years ago. In our Oregon and New York mills each plank is studied and honored by our craftsmen as they trim, plane, mould, sand, and fulfill orders.

Character is beauty. The character of our antique wood hints to the stories of its past, of man and nature: tight grain patterns, deep patinas, original saw marks, ferrous staining with occasional nail holes, weathered surfaces, remnants of paint. Random length boards abut one another creating a harmonious mosaic on walls and floors. Beneath the bare foot a reclaimed wood floor is solid, cool, and smooth with a soft luster from our preferred natural oil/wax finish. To touch the surface offers interest of varying textures. From subtle grain ridges, flat knots, and softly curving marks where an old saw blade struck the log into planks, to deeply grooved, weather worn fascias.”

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img_8819“Our reclaimed wood emboldens projects effortlessly complementing every style.”

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img_9653“I would say our wood is warmer than most since it holds the souls of previous owners.”

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img_8819“Pioneer Millworks is a is a company of designers and craftspeople who work every day to provide wood flooring, paneling, timbers, and millwork, using wood salvaged from barns, warehouses, factories, shipping containers and more.  The products we craft from these 20 or more species of reclaimed wood are a mosaic of color and texture and exude the warmth and natural beauty that only hundreds of years of age can provide.”

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img_6335“Rough swirls of hard natural fibers in linear planks in a rage of gold to brown.”

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img_1954“I would talk about the texture, the combination of smooth and rough in our patina and skip planed floors. I would talk about how the scars of it’s previous life, those nail holes and insect marks, each little pin hole that interrupts the smooth surface of American Gothic, tell a story of a life of purpose and function.

I would talk about it’s durability under foot, the solid feel of the dense grain antique wood, the sturdy sound of it as you walk across the floor. I’d describe the smell- rich wood and sawdust, the warm smell of a natural oil finish. The silk-soft surface of a well burnished surface underfoot or in hand.”

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img_6732Pioneer Millworks is the vehicle by which our reclaimed wood comes to a second, or third, chapter in their story…telling the tales of where it has been, and its original intended use.  The texture of the saw marks, the bolt holes, and the mortise pockets are all physical examples and evidence of the story it wants to tell.  You can feel the history with your hands, poke your fingers in the holes and know it has a past.

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img_6403“Reclaimed wood is as wonderful to ponder and touch as it is on display. Sure, designers look to the relationship of hues to the room, but unlike paint or fabric or other surfaces, reclaimed wood is more than ‘tommy grey’ or ‘burnt brown.’ Imagine if you will, you have no vision or that color doesn’t matter. Reclaimed wood then becomes an adventure for the other senses. For your nose, a smell from another century, sometimes musty sometimes piney, and always earthy. (Sometimes when even our best wood experts can’t identify a species, we take out our knives to score through the patina and breathe in the newly exposed cells.) For touch, a myriad of adventures in texture lay before you  — you can travel up weathered ridges of alternating sapwood and heartwood, or follow small trails where tepid explorers once burrowed their way through the fibers, or pause at round and oblong pits where nails or bolts secured timber to timber. And if your fingers don’t find these signs of previous life, perhaps your hand will pass along perfectly parallel lines curving gracefully across the plank’s face, a rough memorial to a different era when craft was slow. Lastly, there’s the sense of heart and soul that is reclaimed wood. No two planks are the same (thank goodness!), some pieces endured decades, some centuries, of weather and wear, ready to start a new adventure. And in doing so, perhaps saving a new tree from mass consumption. While Stormy Grey may drive the choice, the real color is in the story.”

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Harmony on Hudson

harmony-on-hudson-imageWhen Greg & Dee approached us about their family’s timber frame retreat home we knew it was going to be fun. They had great plans and land with amazing views – but more, their goal was to create a home as environmentally friendly as possible. Eliminating VOCs and incorporating reclaimed and organic materials (plus a solar array) were “must have” elements. We recently had a chance to chat with Greg about life on the mountain:

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Expansive views of Catamount and Butternut Mountains enjoyed from the home.

 

“Well firstly, we loved the rich color and character we saw in the reclaimed timbers in the showroom,” explains Greg. “Now that they’re part of our home, we are so pleased that we went this direction.”

pmw-timbers-barn-siding-walnut-ent-ctr-and-floor_web_shGreg has a special affinity for a particular Douglas fir post near the kitchen. It isn’t uncommon to see him hugging the post on his way into the common areas. “Every time I come into the house after I haven’t been there for a while, there is a post that I wrap myself around and give a giant hug too. I’ve been known to give it a little smooch as well. I really do love this house.” We can relate. In fact, hugging, handling, smelling, and staring dreamily at wood is typical day-to-day around our mill and office.

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Our teams do love reclaimed wood!

“We wanted to use as much reclaimed wood as possible because it’s environmentally friendly and a healthier option for our family, but also just as important, we love the sustainability aspects of re-purposed wood,” Greg continued.

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img_4902wanut-floor_olsenWe learned that it would be common for Greg & Dee to have large gatherings and lots of cooks in the kitchen. Foot traffic would be heavy, but they live in a relaxed atmosphere, so shoes would be off. This type of living would be a good fit for Walnut as it is a softer hardwood. The rich coffee, purple, caramel, and tan toned wood flows throughout the main level of the home. “The Reclaimed Walnut floors are one of the best decisions that we made. We used a no VOC finish so they do require more care, but they are so beautiful that it’s totally worth it.” To balance out the darker floors, the custom NEWwoodworks cabinetry stays light.

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Reclaimed Walnut flooring meets American Prairie Taphouse siding and is joined by Reclaimed Maple/Beech furniture (crafted by NEWwoodworks).

The interior trim is Douglas fir which joins with American Prairie Taphouse reclaimed softwoods on the bedroom, entry, and stair walls. “We were initially concerned that with having too much wood, that decorative wood paneling on the interior walls could be overkill. Turns out the team at Pioneer Millworks suggested just the right amount and it ended up being the perfect complement to the interior of our home.”

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nww_stairs_web The custom stairs and railing were crafted by NEWwoodworks.

The stairs lead from the main level to a rec room, kid’s bedrooms, and an exercise room via Douglas fir and Walnut raisers and treads with a cable railing system.

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The lower level rec room includes an entertainment center crafted with Reclaimed Settlers' Plank Hardwoods and topped with Reclaimed Beech.

The lower level rec room includes an entertainment center crafted with Reclaimed Settlers’ Plank Hardwoods and topped with Reclaimed American Gothic hardwoods (crafted by NEWwoodworks).

The lower level features Reclaimed Teak, an incredibly durable species with rich, warm tones. “Choosing the reclaimed teak was an excellent decision for downstairs. We love the look and really appreciate how well it has stood up to heavy traffic from the kids, friends, and our gym.”

gamerm-teak-floor-rec-barn-siding-ceiling_web_sh“The rec room’s ‘as-found’ industrial salvaged timbers add a lot of fun and character to the space. Using them throughout the house would not meet our aesthetic desires, but in this room the timbers along with the reclaimed barn-wood on the ceiling definitely add to our house.”

olsen-reclaimed-softwoods-siding-pioneer-millworksWhen approaching the home it appears to have grown out of the land, to be part of the surrounding forest thanks in part to the exterior siding’s hard-earned natural tones. “Our favorite Pioneer Millworks element is the cladding on the exterior of the house. Perhaps more than any other feature, this multi-color, multi-textured wood sets the tone for the uniqueness of our home.”

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Homeowners Greg & Dee.

 

“One of our favorite things to do is wake up in the morning on a cold winter day and lean back and our chairs in front of the picture window and drink in the view with a nice warm blanket and a hot cup of coffee. If a mountain was able to give birth to a house, this would be the house.”

Thanks Greg, Dee, and family for letting us be part of your dream home!

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New Energy Works Timberframers (our sister company) designed Greg and Dee’s retreat home creating a layout with ample party space with unobstructed southern views of the Catamount and Butternut Mountains. They included screened and covered porches which blur the line between interior and exterior spaces. Their team enclosed the home with the high efficiency Matrix Wall System and SIP roof panels. This same group was also responsible for installing the American Prairie Reclaimed Siding. We work elbow to elbow with New Energy Works and are always thankful for how smoothly our combined projects go. Plus, they’re as wood obsessed as we are!

(If you’re interested in the whole story, Timber Home Living Magazine has followed this project from design to completion.)