Street Roots

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Located in Portland, Oregon, Street Roots is a nonprofit organization that publishes a weekly newspaper sold by people experiencing houselessness and poverty to help them earn an income. Founded in 1999, the newspaper focuses on local environmental and social justice issues, publishing work from professional journalists as well as op-eds from community members and organizations. Having outgrown their current headquarters in downtown Portland, Street Roots purchased the 1926 Wax Building–a three-story building located on West Burnside Street in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood. The new building and robust renovation will allow them to expand and grow their program, increase their impact, and support more vendors. It will house their newspaper offices, a classroom and recording studio, wellness center, and rooftop patio that will be available for vendors to use. The renovation also includes upgrades to an efficient VRF mechanical system, high quality ERV air filtration, and solar power.

Street Roots

Open to vendors, the building’s basement will provide necessities such as washers and dryers, two bathrooms with showers, and a beauty parlor space to get ready. The first floor houses a resource center where vendors can pick up newspapers and supplies, as well as access support in the form of an administration desk, coffee counter, seating, and wheelchair charging station. In addition to the resource center, the first floor includes two offices and restrooms.

The second floor is dedicated to the newspaper staff, with seven shared offices, a lounge, a kitchen, a restroom, and a shower. The third floor features a classroom/recording studio with large doors and windows opening out onto a rooftop patio. A trellis with vines will surround the patio, providing additional greenery, sound dampening, and visual separation from the busy street below. The custom designed trellis features cables that run vertically and diagonally across the dark steel frame, a nod to the historic streetcar cables that used to run along Burnside.

Street Roots

All design choices were made with trauma-informed design principles in mind, as many people who spend time living outdoors can feel uncomfortable as they transition to indoor spaces. Street Roots wants the space to feel open and welcoming to their vendors. With the use of wood details, a color palette of greens, blues, and softer tones, and incorporating plants throughout, the space brings nature inside while maintaining a safe, equitable, resilient, and healthy space for all who use it.

Holst is providing all design services for the project pro-bono, with many other consultants and vendors pitching in to provide services and materials at a discounted rate. Street Roots hopes to move into the new headquarters by the end of 2023.

Client

Street Roots

Location

Portland, OR

Completion

Expected 2023

Size

5,777 sf