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May 4, 2018

Exterior Commercial • Oregon

Photo by Darius Kuzmickas
The exterior envelope on this Portland office building served as a blank canvas for its hand-painted murals.

Fair-Haired Dumbbell

Location: Portland

Contractor: Western Partitions

Architect: FFA Architecture and Interiors

Team: Dryvit Systems, Georgia-Pacific, Western Materials

Fair-Haired Dumbbell is composed of two six-story buildings with a combined 56,000 square feet of open office space. The two buildings are connected by skybridges on each floor, a unique feature that lends itself to the “dumbbell” moniker.

This project instantly grabs the attention of eastbound travelers on Portland’s Burnside Bridge.

Western Partitions used Dryvit Outsulation Plus MD System for the building’s exterior envelope, which acted as a blank white canvas for the building’s brightly colored, hand-painted artwork.

Other characteristics made this project unique. First, the construction was partially crowdfunded through Portland’s Guerrilla Development Co. Second, not only is the building shaped like a dumbbell, the footprint of the sixth floor is three feet wider than the first floor on each side of the building. This means the walls are canted outward from the ground up, giving it a cartoonish shape. With the multicolored mural, it stands out like no other building.

The canted angle of the walls were also challenging for Western Partitions’ plasterers because the exterior wall sloped outward one foot for every 20 feet of vertical rise. There were no grooves on the elevations other than the floorline expansion joints. This meant the plasterers had to complete each floor’s elevation without any breaking points.

The project used Dryvit’s new Starter Board, a premesh embedded EPS starter strip that had never been installed before in the Pacific Northwest. The Western Partition team overcame all to complete what will surely be recognized as one of Portland’s most iconic buildings.

Judge’s comment: “The Dumbbell is unique in every way. From funding to design to paint — all are unique. The creative use of skybridges and the almost seamless facade, providing the canvas for the painting, tie the project together nicely.”

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