Cyan PDX

The Cyan sits on SW Fourth Street between Mill and Montgomery, gazing over an old red brick Catholic church towards the south side of downtown Portland. The west facade is comprised of a grid containing angled glass faces that lean a little north and a little south, in a pleasant alternating rhythm. Designed by Thomas Hacker and GBD, I understand the Cyan was originally intended to be condos marketed to those who can't quite afford the awesome of the Pearl District, and the floor plans are smaller to match the intended lower rates. Then the Recession of 2008-2014 happened, and before the building was finished, the units were switched over to rentals.

I am glad to see a large project come to the PSU area and I fully support bringing more housing closer to downtown jobs and the university students. I doubt that very many students will be able to afford to live here, but it exemplifies diversity by locating non-student housing close to the campus. A street car stop is just a block away linking the area to wherever you want to go.

The angled glass walls are interesting, but I don't like the way the whole grid is encapsulated in a frame of standard straight glass at the corners and at the top. Perhaps if the angles met the edges of the building and even turned the corner, it would be more dynamic - but no one says buildings need to be dynamic.

The back of the building doesn't angle at all, and is rather flat (that is, not dynamic at all). There is less glazing overall on this side, with the introduction of a metal corrugation element. I like what is happening here, but it doesn't communicate with the other side. Again, wrapping the corners would definitely provide positive transition. I feel I am waiting for the workers to bring in the balconies and attach them to the flattened face, as well as the angled face. This is not the first building in Portland that looks like it was designed with balconies and then had them scraped at the last minute.

There appears to be a good system of water flow-thru planters along the Fourth Street side, where run-off from both the street and the sidewalk can collect, circulate through the plantings and seep slowly into the earth, lessening the impact on the city's sewer system. The back of the building has a large "rain garden" if you want to call it that, where a similar on-site water storing is taking place.