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.

 

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The Barrow House: A ‘sleek farmhouse’ restaurant and parlor.

Sleek farmhouse. Not commonly paired together, but that is the result of The Barrow House restaurant and parlor in Clifton, New Jersey. Assorted rooms are strung together with eclectic decor sure to feed the hipster in all of us.

reclaimed-mushroom-board-ceiling-and-settlers-plank-floor-pioneerWhen we first started talking with Dean and Thomas about their vision for their restaurant, we were excited to learn how much they appreciated the history of the barn/restaurant space they were re-working. It was first started as a steakhouse building that housed other restaurants over the years with countless additions and alterations made for each one along the way.

settlers-plank-flooring-by-pioneer-millworksDean and Thomas wanted to maintain the rambling concept and celebrate the imperfections that might come along with such a storied past including roughly textured wood, chipping plaster, varied colors, original artifacts, and different flooring throughout the space. Parlor, bar, farm food – what could be better? Now that they’re open, let’s peek inside some of its remarkable spaces.

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Cocktails on tap, a solid selection of beer, and cider…it was hard to move past the bar. But we’d be doing a disservice to this blog if we didn’t mention the wood: Decades of water over pouring over the surface of our River Skins (cladding the bar front) give it a driftwood texture, raising the knots and grain reminding us of drift wood.

 

Overall Pioneer Millworks provided 12 different reclaimed wood materials which were used throughout the restaurant on a variety of surfaces. In the bar area you’re greeted with a variety of libations including cocktails on tap and cider. The space has Foundry Maple flooring while the ceiling is clad with an original-whitewashed V-groove siding. When the Dean mentioned wanting the bar front to look like an old boat haul, we immediately suggested River Skins. These skins were cut from the outsides of Douglas Fir timbers that were once used for rafts to float hardwood logs downstream to sawmills in southern Canada. What we love most are the details that pepper the space like vintage hooks added to the bar front, a convenient place to hang your hat (or purses, of course).

inside-out-barrow-house-reclaimed-wood-pioneerAcross from the bar, the outside is…inside – a whimsical result of the building’s add-on history. There’s something to discover in each pocket that makes up The Barrow House, which is part of the fun.

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Our Settlers’ Plank grade celebrates original saw marks, nail holes, ferrous staining, and other signs of its previous life.Much of the dining area has Settlers’ Plank Oak flooring in random wide widths, a favorite choice for a restaurant. The inevitable wear and tear blends easily into the original character (think: saw marks, nail holes, insect trails, ferrous staining) common to this grade.

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Another gem. An old-school built-in corner cabinet updated with lighting and three dimensional ‘art work’.

 

Throughout the restaurant are different grades of American Prairie (our version for that popular barn siding look). Boards salvaged from agricultural wood that were once heavily painted but have been worn and chipped away at by time. The Barrow House highlights paneling with paint ranging from nearly opaque to light remnants in yellow, red, and white. Weathered brown boards, having developed their deep chocolate color through a century of high temperatures inside agricultural structures, adorn vertical surfaces in several different spaces within the restaurant. All those chocolatey tones wet the appetite for dessert.

reclaimed-mushroom-board-ceiling-and-settlers-plank-floor-pioneerWandering a bit further, you’ll discover the wine room. Stone walls frame the back-lit wine cabinets (which hold a very nice list of vino) surrounding a large farm-syle table. Overhead Mushroom Boards clad the ceiling, offering higher texture and deep color that plays off of Settler’s Plank Oak floor.

 

 

wine-behind-glass-the-barrow-houseWhen you’re outside, you arrive at a classic wrap-around porch and American Prairie Brown Board on the exterior of the winding spaces. The barn shows off American Prairie Painted, salvaged a number of years ago from the classic red barns common throughout the northeast. The barn and wrap-around porch are actually Douglas Fir timber frames designed and erected by our sister company, New Energy Works Timberframers.

Our desire to keep the American tradition and history of agricultural barns alive and well has lead us on a journey of discovering additional sources of softwoods that offer the same character we love in barn wood, but are from more sustainable sources. We’ve found planks from fences, livestock pens, and other less historical exterior facades to supplement our barn wood collection. the-barrow-house-nj-reclaimed-barn-siding-pioneer-2new-energy-works-timber-frame-at-the-barrow-houseInside the timber frame you’ll see more American Prairie and a one-of-a-kind thresher floor milled from stock reclaimed from barn structures as well. We were happy to see this floor, it isn’t one you’ll find on our website, but it is a good example of project collaboration. We love when conversations lead to use of an uncommon material where its character can be celebrated. Our favorite part though, is the roof of the barn timber frame. It retracts half-way, letting diners literally sit under the stars!

the-barrow-house-parlor-njWe really enjoyed working with Dean and Thomas to find the perfect materials for all the various needs of their project. We can’t say enough about the unique experience they’ve created with The Barrow House or the fun Jered and Jennifer recently had exploring. Our suggestion is that when you visit you plan to time to wander.

Unique, rare, atypical – hey, that’s what makes our jobs fun and your projects outstanding. Thanks Dean and Thomas!

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I Love Chicago

Over the past few years, Chicago has become one of my favorite cities to travel to for Pioneer Millworks. Architecturally magnificent and with a vibrant mid-town area, Conde Naste Travler just ranked Chicago as the #2 city favorite for tourists.

South Michigan Ave Selfie

We do a lot of work with architects, designers, and builders based in the windy city on projects all across the country. But if there’s one thing I’ve found that’s nearly as awesome as the midwestern charm of Chicagoans, it has got to be the food. Fortunately for me (and my stomach) our reclaimed wood adorns plenty of the best new restaurants around town.

One Fifty One Kitchen & Bar opened just within the past couple of weeks out in Elmhurst, clad with our Patina Vat Stock on the front and trimmed with our American Prairie Gray. After a look at the menu, I can’t wait to get back there for dinner.

Reclaimed wood, inside and out – Its what we do.

Nando’s is a name familiar to those from the Mid-Atlantic, Chicago, and South Africa where the chain began back in the late 1980’s. I have to admit, I had lunch at a Nando’s twice last week. The chicken is just that good. And depending on the location you might see any number of our reclaimed wood materials in use. This location on Wabash uses our Black & Tan Oak in multiple areas, even some with painted planks for a vibrant accent.

A little paint on our reclaimed wood unifies it with other bright colors throughout the restaurant

River Roast has arguably the most awesome location, right on the Chicago River, with outdoor dining right next to the LaSalle St. bridge.

Outdoor heaters keep the patio warm at River Roast

We provided two different batches of our Foundry Maple for the logo walls in the restaurant. One is a unique sandblasted floor with a light yet warm tone, and the other is a replica of our first foundry maple batch, crafted by our finishing experts. You guess, I won’t tell you which one is which.

Foundry Maple in the main dining room

Foundry Maple behind the hostess stand

Before heading out of town, I swung by the new Starbucks up on Broadway, which was recently outfitted with Heart Pine salvaged from the Pullman Couch Factory right there in Chicago. This building became infamous in 2013 when the Chicago Fire Department battled a large fire there in sub-zero temps, earning the name “Fire & Ice Building” and documented in a previous post on our blog.

Three different depths of Antique Heart Pine which in its past life was charred and encased in ice

After 3 very full days it was time for the rails to lead me home. Passing through Union Station to board my train, a pair of Metra trains waited to shuttle commuters home to the suburbs just as they’ve done for decades. Chicago’s mass transit is unique in that there’s so much of it above ground, it becomes a great way to see the sights, and to make your way to a spectacular meal, hopefully surrounded by some of our beautiful reclaimed wood.

If you get a chance to ride the commuter rail in Chicago, go upstairs and sit in the “upper deck” for a better view.
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The ‘Random’ Trend: Firewood Panels

A trend in design for the past few years has been “random”.  Random colors, textures, shapes, thicknesses, widths, and character have become the norm in many projects both residential and commercial. Playing off this random concept, a national retailer asked us to create a random firewood wall panel for their stores.

firewood-panel-pioneer-millworks-macroSome people think the roots of this look is in Scandinavian design, while others get more of an Adirondack or Rocky Mountain lodge feel. The simplicity and organic nature of stacked firewood is beautiful – I’ve always marveled at how every piece is unique in shape, size, and texture. Translating this beauty to a prefabricated panel would prove to take considerable work, but our team of craftspeople are always up for a challenge.

First, we had to figure out what we would be using for the wood itself. The firewood we generate in our shop comes in the form of off-cuts from the timbers we salvage. Usually its the “bad part” of the beam on the ends, perhaps with some rot or damage from the deconstruction process. We don’t waste this, and in fact it is burned in our high-performance boilers which heat our kilns and our shop in the colder months here in NY. So we had to find something that wasn’t cut from old timbers – and we didn’t need to look any further than the trees growing around our yard. Nothing too big, just some Poplars and softwoods which, coincidentally, were being trimmed around the same time as they were encroaching on our yard space. They were the perfect size to form a nice arrangement on the panels for our client.

fire-wood-panel-whole-pioneerFor the retailer’s project we split the logs to give them a genuine wedge-profile, cut them to the requested depth, carefully dried them, and then mounted them to a specially prepared plywood backer and frame.

Stepping back and looking at it, our shop thought it was a really cool project that we probably wouldn’t be asked to make again. Fast-forward a few months though, and a longtime client of ours in New York City called up asking about a similar effect, this time for the exterior of a restaurant.  Working with an outdoor application presented its own set of challenges but once again our team developed a solution again sourcing small, fast-growing species overtaking the edges of our yard in NY.

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Just this last week, we shipped another set of panels, this time for the lobby of an apartment building outside Philadelphia. This project combined both of our prior efforts, using small diameter logs of similar species and color with the bark intact, but for interior use next to a fireplace.firewood-panels-apt-lobby-paWe’ve done other random projects with a more refined look using reclaimed timbers including a curved end-block wall crafted from Poplar and Basswood, and a really cool custom stained Red Pine wall at a coffee shop in Michigan. What’s your random design desire? stained-red-pine-random-wall-pioneer-product

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