Bob and Diana Gerding Theater at the Armory

Portland, OR

Gerding Edlen Development


GBD Architects


Hoffman Construction


LEED Certified Platinum
First building to be platinum certified in the Northwest
Low Impact Development
Sustainable Stormwater

Services/Project Type
Structural Engineering
Civil Engineering
Site Development
Utility Infrastructure
Low Impact Development
Stormwater Management
Structural Evaluation
Seismic Design
Boundary Surveys
Topographic Surveys

The renovation of the historic Armory Building, originally built in 1891, created a new home for Portland Center Stage in Northwest Portland’s Brewery Blocks neighborhood. A 500-seat main theater now sits above a 200-seat experimental theater. Rigging, auditorium seating, a costume shop, dressing rooms, administrative offices, a ticket office, and public gathering spaces complete the complex.

The historic structure was renovated without disturbance to the unreinforced masonry walls and parallel arched-chord wood trusses spanning 100 feet. Cast-in-place concrete and long-span steel beams were used to reinforce the walls and create the skeleton for new interiors that fit precisely within the historic structure. The basement was dug 25 feet below the existing floor to provide space for the experimental theater. Solder pile shoring was designed to support the masonry walls, as well as future vertical loads; to avoid cracking the walls, shoring movement was limited to less than a half-inch.

Outside the theater, an integrated stormwater harvesting system treats runoff from the roof and the public right-of-way. A 10,000-gallon tank under the sidewalk stores rainwater for use in each of the building’s toilets. In addition, pervious pavers and sidewalk drainage to vegetated areas assist in managing stormwater on site. A 200-foot-long street frontage was converted into the 19-foot-wide Vera Katz Park. This pocket park includes a recirculating water feature and terraced stormwater planters that filter all runoff from the building and the street frontage. This is the first theater in the U.S. and the first building on the National Register of Historic Places to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.


Awards & Recognition

Preservation in Action Award Pinnacle Award, Architectural Heritage Center/Bosco-Milligan Foundation, 2008

AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects in 2007, Honorable Mention

AIA/IIDA 2007 Annual Design Awards, Oregon Chapter, Honor Award

2007 Urban Land Institute Awards for Excellence: The Americas

Grand Award, ACEC Oregon, 2007