The Nick Fish Receives an AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Design Merit Award

The Nick Fish Receives an AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Design Merit Award

Last night, The Nick Fish received an AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Design Merit Award, selected from a region that spans OR, WA, ID, MT, AK, HI, and Guam/Micronesia. The award celebrates achievements in design quality, functional utility, economy, environmental harmony, sustainability, accessibility, aesthetic delight, creativity, craftsmanship, and innovation.

The result of a complex, multi-partner, multi-funder, multi-year, and multi-government collaboration, The Nick Fish sets a new standard for quality affordable housing and services. Refined in collaboration with the community and in response to a uniquely challenging four-sided site in Portland’s Gateway Urban Renewal Area, the design prioritizes active ground floor uses to encapsulate surface parking while activating street, park, and plaza. A two-story retail and office volume fronts Halsey Street and is scaled to match the height and character of the neighborhood. The taller six-story residential tower strategically fronts Gateway Discovery Park to minimize visible bulk from the street while enhancing park safety through community engagement with the public realm.

The new headquarters for Our Just Future (formerly Human Solutions)—a non-profit homeless services agency whose mission is to serve people and families with housing insecurity—is located on the second floor. A mix of open offices, glass-fronted private offices and meeting rooms maximizes a constrained floor plate and is unified under an exposed heavy-timber ceiling. Our Just Future manages the adjacent residential tower, providing a symbiotic relationship of functions.

The residential lobby carves through the building from Halsey Street and is punctuated by resident services, a wood-clad mail area, and a resident lounge with direct connection to the park. Linear ceiling baffles, forested vinyl graphics, and plywood paneling provide economical finishes to the lobby while referencing the exterior façade. To support equity in the community, fifty-two affordable and twenty-three market rate units are interspersed randomly within the tower and are designed to the same high-end finish. An active retail edge with a focus on local BIPOC businesses supports the Halsey-Weidler commercial corridor.

The Nick Fish redefines the possibilities and perception of an affordable housing development, achieved through community engagement and thoughtful placemaking. Along Halsey Street the pedestrian experience is paramount. Sidewalks are generously sized with ample pedestrian lighting for safety, storm-planters provide respite from traffic and filter environmental pollutants, concrete seat walls and wood benches offer moments for pause, and entries for the office and residents are denoted by large cedar lined canopies and entry alcoves. Prioritizing energy efficiency, the building achieved LEED Gold Homes and Multifamily Mid-Rise Gold certification.

We are so proud and share huge congratulations with all of the partners that brought this project to life:

Our Just Future (formerly Human Solutions)

Edlen & Co.

Prosper Portland

Portland Housing Bureau (PHB)

LMC Construction


KPFF Portland

Catena Engineers

MFIA Engineers


Project photography by Christian Columbres and Andre Jones Photography

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