PGE Service Center Rehabilitation

Portland, Oregon

How do we re-imagine a 1950s office building as a forward-thinking workplace of today?

This 1950s-era building was completely re-imagined as a 21st-century creative workplace with LEED BD+C Gold certification. Situated along the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail line in an industrial zone, the office building sets the tone for the company identity on its 11-acre Portland Service Center site.

FFA Architecture and Interiors worked closely with the client, a local Utility Provider, to design the renovation of their office as a clear demonstration of their strong commitment as a leader in smarter, cleaner, renewable energy usage. The 43,000-sf facility originally had dark double-loaded hallways, ‘cubicle-farm’ workspaces, low acoustic ceilings, dated finishes, and leaky windows. It was long overdue for an upgrade and thorough refresh. In addition to the importance of meeting Essential Facility requirements and remaining operational in a wide range of emergency situations, the building design had the goal to provide an environment that would help attract and retain the utility provider’s sizable, specialized workforce.

The main entrance to the building, along the new MAX Orange Line, was re-envisioned with a simple and clean storefront system in place of the original clerestory thin, ribbon windows. An folded wood feature wall creates a warm and welcoming entry vestibule, and just beyond the main entry is a mega-graphic displaying a photo-collage of iconic images representing the client’s brand. Completely updated and refreshed, the renovated space is a place where employees look forward to returning each day.

Year Completed:
43,000 sf
Construction Cost:
$7.45 million
Project Contact:
Richard Grace, AIA
Partner, Commercial Market Lead

LEED BD+C Gold for Essential Facilities

Oregon Chapter IIDA, Special Award for Transformation

Connections Between Levels
Flexible Collaborative Spaces
Choices in Posture
Transit Connections


Space-planning of the workplace involved thoughtful consideration of the client’s business culture and goals of creating a collaborative work environment. Informal meeting areas dot the lower core, encouraging spontaneous interactions & brainstorming sessions. Workstations were reallocated to the perimeter windows and niches were carved into walls along the core, creating casual meeting areas with magnetic marker boards and colorful, playful seating.  Relites, glass doors, and glass walls at conference rooms increase light and transparency throughout the formally dark, cramped space.

Natural Daylight Throughout
Storytelling and Branding Opportunities


The design team took a comprehensive approach – this began by gutting the building down to its interior steel structure and creating new opportunities for daylight openings. One such example is the new lightwell along the north side of the lower level, which brings daylight into what was once a gloomy, windowless basement. Additionally, the lightwell provides employees with views of drought-tolerant landscaping from their desks.