Home should be a place you feel proud of no matter what price range you can afford. We take seriously our role in designing affordable housing that provides families with safety, durability, accessibility, and style.
In a city facing tremendous housing price increases, Wy’East Plaza’s 175 units—studios, one-, and two- bedrooms—are dedicated to low-income residents struggling to find dignified housing. This four-story building sets the tone for the future of its neighborhood: more residential, accessible via walking and public transit, and affordable for different income brackets.
Offering ample bike racks and public transit just a block away, Wy’East Plaza is very accessible for people without cars. Deprioritizing parking spaces allowed us to design a larger building that can house more families. The architecture combines urban and residential details, like pitched roofs, bay windows, and board and batten siding, for a natural transition from its commercial surroundings to neighboring homes. Distinctively textured siding and yellow pops of color announces the entry and provide wayfinding. The courtyard wrapping around the building is only accessible via key fob, making it a secure park-like setting to relax amongst unique seating areas, lush plantings, walking paths, and, eventually, a custom mural by a local female artist. The rainwater collection feature with barrels and planters lets residents recycle rainwater for gardening.
Inside, durable, stylish materials offer a simple, modern aesthetic. Several community areas promote connection and a sense of belonging amongst residents. Large walk-in closets with power outlets—an unheard of amenity in affordable housing—can double as home offices or nurseries, providing important flexibility for different lifestyles. An improvement feature not visible to residents is the new fire-tested exterior wall assembly that we developed to maximize framing efficiency. We hope this will improve affordable housing projects going forward.
Wy’East Plaza feels like market rate housing, showcasing the potential of design and construction cost containment done right. We rigorously investigated cost and space saving measures, meeting with dozens of subcontractors in the design phase to gather multiple perspectives and create the most efficient plan. Unlike most projects, our architects built a full-size unit mockup for testing efficient design strategies, which ensured we optimized square footage while retaining our client’s standards of livability and functionality.
At Wy’East Plaza, we developed cost efficient solutions that raise the bar across our industry, delivering this building at a lower cost ($111k) per unit than any other Portland-area affordable housing project built at the time. More efficient budgeting and floorplans means more beautiful, affordable homes for those in need.