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Daily Journal of Commerce: 650-foot tower coming to Waterfront Park?


MulvannyG2 Architecture has designed building to serve as model of wind, solar energy generation

POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Though rejected by Portland Parks & Recreation during a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the old Portland Visitors Information Center, a proposal to construct a 650-foot-tall waterfront observation tower in Waterfront Park may still become a reality.

Developer Derek Hanna has been working with MulvannyG2 Architecture to design the SMART Tower, which would act as not only an observation deck, but as a model of wind and solar energy generation.

SMART stands for Sustainable Modern Art Tower, a name coined by Hanna.

The painted steel tower, as it’s currently designed, would be 90 feet in diameter and 650 feet tall. It would dwarf Portland’s current tallest building, the Wells Fargo Building, which is only 564 feet tall. In addition to an observation deck, the tower would include a sky-high restaurant and bar, ballroom, exhibition space, an automated parking structure with 600 spaces, and support areas for park rentals, ticketing, restrooms and concessions.

But the most ambitious portion of the project is its ability to produce energy. Principal-in-charge of the tower project, John Flynn of MulvannyG2 Architecture, said the tower would incorporate both wind and solar energy production.

“The energy aspect would be a combination of photo voltaic panels and wind turbines,” he said. “The turbines would be the vertical axis kind and they would surround the shaft of the tower. There would also be a large amount of photo voltaic panels. The idea is to power the needs of the tower itself and also use additional energy to provide supplemental power to Waterfront Park. Initially, we were thinking we could power the park’s lighting.”

If built, the tower could cost between $100 million and $120 million. Currently in the conceptual phase, the developers and MulvannyG2 have spoken to the Bureau of Development Services about the project and have been meeting with city officials. Once the team feels it has support for the project, it plans to perform feasibility studies to determine the location for the tower, which is currently planned for Waterfront Park.

“We want to wait until we have a specific site,” said Flynn. “We like the Waterfront Park idea, but there are a lot of stakeholders involved.”

A proposal was first made for the SMART Tower earlier this year during Portland Parks and Recreation’s request for proposals to redevelop the Portland Visitors Information Center, also known as the McCalls Restaurant site. The tower was chosen as a top-three finalist, but ultimately lost to Bike Republic’s proposal for a full-service bike commuter facility.


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