AIA Portland’s Center for Architecture is the world's first AIA building to achieve a LEED® Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
ProCenter_CaseStudy_AIACustom six-panel Folding Door System at the AIA’s Center for Architecture in Portland, Oregon

Project Challenge

Portland has always been on the cusp of environmental leadership. When it came time for the city’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter to undertake a new headquarters, the organization’s management steered it toward becoming a pioneer in renovating an historic structure into a jewel of a sustainable structure. Opened in 2009, AIA Portland’s new Center for Architecture has been hailed nationwide as a model for urban redevelopment and is the first AIA building in the world to achieve a LEED® Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The Center for Architecture design team, headed by Dave Otte of Holst Architecture in Portland, determined that workable windows and doors were a must to take advantage of natural ventilation and Portland’s temperate climate. Due to the layout of the one-story building, which was built in the 1880s, the windows needed to be oversized yet still functional to allow for day light to shine through.

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adapted from a CEU, "Renovating an Historic Structure for LEED Platinum Certification," originally published in Architectural Record.

Architectural Solution

The 10,000-square foot center, with 5,000 square feet of occupied space, features a lineup of JELD-WEN windows and doors that helped the facility earn LEED points for energy efficiency, as well as ventilation and day lighting and views.

JELD-WEN developed a solution by utilizing sliding patio doors as windows, and installed handles at the bottom of each unit so they would be easy to reach. The result is a series of patio doors on the south wall of the building designed to look like windows and that operate effortlessly.

In addition, one of the original features of the structure was an arched side entryway that had since been covered over. When the chapter saw this unique feature it planned to restore the archway for visual appeal and to keep with the traditional design of the building. To make this a focal point, the architect team brainstormed ideas with JELD-WEN to install a folding door that would completely open up the entryway. The folding door, which contains six panels and opens accordion-style to the east side of the building, allows the Center for Architecture staff to easily access the opening, connect with the local neighborhood, and bring natural ventilation into the space.

Leveraging natural light

With an abundance of windows and doors in its new space, the Center for Architecture was able to earn two LEED points for Daylight and Views (EQ Credits 8.1 and 8.2) with sight lines that reached 90 percent of all regularly occupied areas. “The space is small enough that with its open plan you can pretty much see outside from any spot in the building,” noted Alan Scott, AIA, a principal with Portland-based Green Building Services and a member of the Center’s LEED certification team. For the Portland AIA, day lighting has already proven to be an excellent strategy for increasing energy performance by eliminating the redundancy of artificial light when natural light is available. For the most part, the entire space relies on natural light throughout the day, a key contributor to reduced energy bills. JELD-WEN windows and doors also contributed to LEED credits through materials and resources selections and process innovation. For example, the windows and doors were manufactured within 500 miles of the Portland area, as was the glass used in the units and the Low-E coating that was applied. In addition, the wood windows and doors were made with AuraLast® wood, which is treated to the core with a proprietary, water-based, vacuum-pressure process that is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it more environmentally preferred than the industry standard “dip treatment” method. This protection is supported by a 20-year warranty, which ensures long-lasting use and less damage from the elements.

Design Features

A five-panel JELD-WEN Exterior Folding Door System helped restore the archway entrance and open it completely to the outdoors. JELD-WEN Custom Wood patio doors serve as oversize windows, letting in ample natural light. The patio doors and folding door system are ENERGY STAR® qualified and built with AuraLast® Wood.

Green Technology

Green building practices are featured in literally every element of the AIA/Portland’s construction including on-site waste water treatment, bio-swale planter wall, high-tech HVAC system and interior finishes made from industrial material that would otherwise be wasted.

Project Team

  • Holst Architecture of Portland, OR