The Fair-Haired Dumbbell

Portland, Oregon

How do we bring a developer's vision for a new Portland landmark to life on a small, awkward site at the Burnside Bridgehead?

The Fair-Haired Dumbbell is a collaboration between FFA and Guerrilla Development, with original mural artwork by James Jean. This speculative office building with ground-floor retail is located in the heart of the Burnside Bridgehead developments. At the eastside intersection of Burnside Street and the Willamette River, the Bridgehead is home to some of Portland’s most exciting and interesting new architecture.

The Dumbbell’s starting point is a small, challenging ‘island’ site – bound by busy streets on every side. In order to maximize useful space in the area, which measures in at just over a quarter-acre, the design team incorporated small interconnected public plazas that flow into the ground-floor retail. These allow for pedestrian movement, refuge, and visibility through the site.

The Fair-Haired Dumbbell building sits squarely in the center of the action, and doesn’t shy away from attention. The project consists of two canted six-story towers clad in hand-painted original artwork on all eight of its elevations.  At each level, sky bridges connect the mirrored 4,000 sf office spaces, giving the creative companies who work there the flexibility to build-out their own floor to meet their needs.  Since no two elevations are the same, tenants and visitors alike will take in impressive views of Portland’s many angles through windows of varying size.  At the ground floor, the Fair-Haired Dumbbell will complement its neighborhood with unique retail offerings and creative landscaping.

Year Completed:
56,000 sf
Construction Cost:
Project Contact:
Richard Grace
Associate Partner, Commercial Market Lead
In Progress Looking Up
Glowing Skybridges
Corner Views
Against a Portland Sky

Stormwater Management as a Landscape Feature
Building Texture
Visualization at the corner of Burnside and MLK Blvd. (Courtesy of Baumberger Studio)