Courtesy of Lara Swimmer
LEVER Architecture

Treehouse is a 7-story, 69-unit, multi-family apartment building located on a steep forested site on the Marquam Hill campus of the Oregon Health & Science University (OSHU) in Portland. The project program provides housing for OHSU staff, students, and affiliates who are interested in a live/work/no-commute lifestyle, as well as a new retail destination on the ground floor.

The design bridges the urban and topographical qualities of the campus by placing the building as an “in the round” object in the forest. Instead of cutting into the hill, the building form is carved to follow the landscape. From the interior entry lobby the experience of the forested landscape is framed. From the exterior, the building connects the upper level bridge entry to the lower level retail and rain garden landscape and deck that mitigates all storm water runoff.

The units are designed as a series of interlocking volumes arranged around a compact central core. The irregular octagonal plan was driven by mandated setback points required to allow for glazing on every face of the building. Windows have been carefully placed to maximize daylight and spaciousness in the studio and-one bedroom flats.

The façade of the building is inspired by the textures and light of the forest. A continuous carved building skin is achieved by eliminating the expression of floor levels by incorporating all expansion joints into the custom window surrounds. Special attention was paid to the framing to allow for the precise placement of the windows at the corners, as well as the detailing of thru façade venting. The skin has a consistent texture and pattern but intentional variety that gives the façade a dynamic quality that changes as you move along and around it and with time of day.

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