Photo of Amara
Photo of Amara
Photo of Amara
Photo of Amara
Photo of Amara


A Gateway to Portland's Pearl District

One of the first multifamily developments to meet Portland's new Inclusionary Housing requirements, Amara is a seven-story building that brings vibrant new energy to its urban gateway site, situated on the edge of the Pearl District. As the North Park Blocks celebrates its 150th year, this new addition contributes 138 apartments, including 17 affordable units, nearly 9,000 SF of ground floor retail space, and a lobby amenity space with an open-air cloister—all on a site formerly occupied by a tire store. The mid-rise is located at the intersection of two major features in Portland's urban landscape. First: Burnside Street is Portland's North to South boundary and serves as the link between East and West across the Willamette River. Second: The North Park Blocks are collectively one of the greatest civic gestures of the central city. Amara actively and sensitively responds to both contexts to transform the block into a vibrant, pedestrian friendly place. The resulting building amplifies the authentic character of its place and reimagines it to the highest potential.

Portland, Oregon
  • 138 units
  • 7 stories
  • 118,839 sq. ft.







Architecture: Isaac Johnson

Architecture Story

Inclusive and Contemporary Living

When Portland first passed its new Inclusionary Housing requirements, proposals for new development remained on the sidelines as housing developers worked to make a new economic model financially feasible. Together with Lennar Multifamily Communities, we proposed a design for Amara that would become the city's first project approved under these new guidelines. Located on a busy intersection near downtown Portland that overlooks the North Park Blocks and West Burnside, Amara's six residential stories over ground-floor retail skillfully mixes market-rate and affordable units to bring vitality to a high-profile site in the city center. Since Amara sits on the edge of the Pearl District, our design concept subtly translates the idea of the "gateway" into architectural expression. A crisp, tailored exterior gives Amara an elevated and fortified contemporary style. Contrasting concrete and metal with mahogany-colored windows creates depth and texture, and a water-wall feature elegantly separates the private lobby and residences from the street-facing retail spaces. A varied, tapestry-like facade of white and grey panels subtly references the Pietro Belluschi-designed AT&T building nearby. The open front of the building faces the adjacent park to welcome people in, and its lobby visually connects to a day-lit courtyard in the center of the site. Abundant exterior glass brings sunlight into Amara's interior spaces, flooding the ground-level floor with natural light. At the sidewalk, a café with ample outdoor seating supports a bustling, social atmosphere; when it's rainy or windy, canopy coverage along the entire facade gives people welcome shelter. Inside, three-bedroom affordable apartments are geared towards families, while the remaining 121 market-rate homes are designed with young professionals in mind. A fitness center gives residents a place to work out without leaving home. Both a rooftop deck and, downstairs, a lounge facing the courtyard encourages residents to meet up, reconnect, and build stronger community connections.