Architecture Photo of The Abigail
Architecture Photo of The Abigail
Architecture Photo of The Abigail
Architecture Photo of The Abigail
Architecture Photo of The Abigail
Architecture Photo of The Abigail

The Abigail

Family-focused Apartments

Conceived as a family-friendly, community-centered apartment complex, The Abigail is an elevated take on affordable housing design in Portland’s Pearl District. The first project in Portland for the Bay Area’s BRIDGE Housing, The Abigail connects residents to one another and to the city. Named for equal-rights pioneer Abigail Scott Duniway, this development is an inclusive space with family-sized units and four community spaces. Two buildings connected by a light-filled bridge provide 128 affordable and 27 market-rate apartments. Four outdoor spaces offer moments for group events, relaxation, and play. Each building wing responds to its surrounding environment—the river and train to the east; the city streets to the west. In June 2017, The Abigail received LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise (v2008) Gold certification.

Portland, Oregon
  • 155 units
  • 6 stories
  • 186,000 sq. ft.
  • Completed in 2016

Affordable Housing


Architecture: Jason Roberts

Interiors: Leah Wheary

Planning: Will Grimm

Architecture Story

Bridging Communities

We wanted to help San Francisco-based BRIDGE Housing shape an excellent first impression for their debut project in Portland. Their goal: a mixed-use building that would provide a large amount of affordable and mixed income rental apartments. We believed The Abigail could change what affordable projects can and should look like. Our overriding design theme for The Abigail centers around family-friendly spaces meant to encourage community and interaction. The 142 housing units—ranging from studios and three-bedroom apartments, with an emphasis on family-sized units—span two distinct wings connected by a common “bridge.” This glazed corridor links both buildings and gives residents an easy way to access and connect to their indoor and four outdoor community spaces, including both public and semi-private courtyards. Residents regularly gather in these courtyards for neighborhood events, to play with their families, and to relax. Moreover, our bridge design simplifies The Abigail’s overall housing layout to include just one lobby and community area. Metaphorically, this “bridge” alludes to our client’s name, BRIDGE Housing and Fremont Bridge to the East. The East and West wings express unique identities that orchestrate the transition between the site and its surroundings. The West building takes aesthetic cues from the urban, luxury character of 13th Avenue in the Pearl District. The East building is more sculptural and a less formal, with an industrial design inspired and shaped by the nearby railway and river. Expansive corridors and laundry lounges on each floor extend The Abigail’s community-based design. The ground floor includes a retail space, leasing office, and a large community room that opens to the street, linking The Abigail’s intimate groups with Portland’s broader community.


Interior Story

Uncompromising Quality for Everyone

“The community spaces at The Abigail provide welcoming places for residents to gather, socialize, and learn. We love the main community room’s expansive windows and flexible functionality. The room is suitable for everything from resident workshops to family playtime and birthday celebrations. The dedicated space for Impact NW, our services partner, is not only beautiful, it’s thoughtfully designed and situated to serve residents well.” -Cynthia Parker, President and CEO of BRIDGE Housing Even though The Abigail focuses on affordable housing, we designed it to fit the Pearl District’s sophistication. Because BRIDGE’s model for The Abigail also includes market-rate housing, our goal was simple: Raise the level of design for affordable housing with inspiring spaces and high-quality finishes. Both six-story buildings are linked by a transparent bridge that is accessible at every floor. The glass of the bridge brings ample light into the building, a welcome change from the common artificially-illuminated corridors of other apartment buildings. Inside, our design took a modern, warm approach with a touch of urban elements to match the neighborhood. Warm wood tones and natural materials add a Scandinavian and Pacific Northwest-inspired look to the interior spaces. Concrete floors and modern shapes give the buildings their approachable, contemporary aesthetic. Finishing touches and details were chosen for their durability as well as their modern aesthetic. Residents’ guest rooms for visiting friends and family are designed to match a hospitality-style experience. While the large community room serves a variety of purposes, its underlying design focuses on encouraging belonging. Art throughout The Abigail comes from the Albertina Kerr art program, which supports the creative growth of local artists experiencing intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.


Planning Story

Affordable Housing in the Heart of Portland

The Abigail gives a vital resource to the Pearl District and Portland: Plenty of affordable and mixed-income rental apartments within walking distance of the Pearl’s social and cultural amenities. This evolution of the mixed-income housing market appeals to market-rate renters, encourages social equality, and creates community by connecting people to the site and the greater city of Portland. And it does this while elevating the design and livability standards for affordable housing design. Our first design challenge was addressing the unusually shaped industrial site— located at the north end of the Pearl District in an emerging area, the site had only one proper street frontage and is located along old railroad tracks and a loading dock. We responded to this challenge by creating a raised front porch for the building that mimics the historic loading docks along 13th Avenue. The Abigail is gives easy access to family-oriented services, as well as to the shops, galleries, and restaurants the Pearl District is known for. The 27 market-rate apartments contributes overall financial sustainability—and thus longevity—to the entire The Abigail project. Underground parking holds 82 parking spaces for residents and the general public. Each building serves the neighborhood with retail and community spaces at ground level, adding street-level buzz, character, and neighborhood vibrancy.