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Spotlight: Blu Dot Showroom, 2021 GRAY Awards Finalist

A closer look at Portland's Blu Dot Showroom, one of five finalists in the 2021 GRAY Awards Commercial Architecture category.

Blu Dot Showroom

Blu Dot Showroom Portland Oregon commercial architecture

Built in a historic warehouse building Portland's Pearl District, Blu Dot's new furniture showroom was designed to preserve the spirit of the existing architecture, while creating a distinct, crafted intervention and customer experience.

The existing space started as a mixture of historic features with an eclectic set of through-the-years additions and renovations that complicated the original layout. Rather than try and compete with or overwrite the old, an intervention by local firm Waetchter Architecture works in concert with the building, creating clear elements that bring to light the building’s framework.

Blu Dot Showroom Portland Oregon commercial architecture

Programmatically and experientially, the showroom needed to create a calibrated neutrality that wouldn’t compete with the rich materiality and color of Blu Dot’s furniture. Envisioned almost like a crafted object inserted into the building, the architectural intervention sits within the space, but is set-off from the existing structure. Paired with a whitewashed wood finish that continues from the flooring up the walls, the new form is distinct from, yet in dialogue with, the textures and construction of the old. Curved corners act both formally and performatively to differentiate new and old, encouraging movement between the two. Discretely scaled zones flow into each other, as the curves lead visitors around the perimeter of the space.

Blu Dot Showroom Portland Oregon commercial architecture

On the exterior of the building, a new awning brings a discrete set of storefronts and loading areas into a singular organization. While referencing the industrial coverings of nearby buildings, the awning takes on its own distinct identity, curving downward against the brick facade. This move acts simultaneously to conceal an existing stucco-covered lintel that stretched across and broke up the facade, as well as to incorporate drainage and lighting.

Blu Dot Showroom Portland Oregon commercial architecture metal awning


Design Team:

Ben Waechter

Rand Pinson

Duncan Scovil


Contractor: R&H Construction

Structural Engineer: KPFF

Street Lighting Design: Kittelson & Associates

Interior Woodwork: Uncommon Cabinetry

Windows & Wood Storefront: Portland Millwork

Lighting & Electrical: Dynalectric Company

Historical Consultant: Peter Meijer Architect

Photography: Jeremy Bittermann

Date of Completion: June 2019


Additional Architecture, Commercial finalists:

Alton Wines

AutoCamp Yosemite

The Century Project at the Space Needle

Comedor Restaurant

Check out the Quick List to see all of the 2021 GRAY Awards finalists!


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