Portland Union Station — Portland, OR

Phased Improvements for Bustling Landmark

Portland Union Station Towers - originally Unreinforced Masonry Building Portland, Oregon
99,000 SF
IBI Group
Peter Meijer Associates
City of Portland
Prosper Portland

This intermodal transportation hub opened in 1896 and has operated ever since, securing local landmark status with its iconic 50-foot clock tower and neon signage. Originally designed as an unreinforced masonry building by Van Brunt & Howe, Portland Union Station features Amtrak’s first Metropolitan Lounge (which once catered to wealthy passengers) and glossy marble interiors. Today the station is one of the busiest in the US, serving long-haul cross-country and coastal trains while connecting regional rail and bus lines. As the oldest major passenger terminal on the West Coast, it also sits on the National Register of Historic Places.

An extensive conditions assessment identified a number of required improvements for the building, including circulation, MEP, and ADA upgrades. One of the most pressing items to address is the building’s seismic vulnerability. Holmes Structures is working with Prosper Portland, the city’s urban renewal agency, to prioritize and phase improvements to match funding.

Prosper Portland brought on Holmes Structures as an active participant in interdisciplinary and client design team meetings, advising on the structural implications of all improvements and mandatory seismic strengthening triggers. The proposed improvements will maintain the historic facade and interior of the structure though careful planning and collaboration.

Entrance to Portland Union Station in Portland Oregon with gardens and blue sky
Historic Lobby of Portland Union Station, Portland Oregon, with Detailed Ceilings and Marble Floor
Portland Union Station Roof Detail with Windows and Unreinforced Masonry Building

Unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings are a large factor in the seismic resiliency of both the City of Portland and the State of Oregon. The immediate life safety danger posed from these buildings has been witnessed around the world during seismic events, and it can’t be ignored. The damage is catastrophic and we need to work together in consideration of public and occupant safety.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working on incremental seismic upgrades of Portland Union Station—a URM building which began construction in 1892.

Jennifer Eggers — Principal
Exterior of Portland Union Station with Flag and Parking Lot and Trees
Portland Union Station Tower with Signs and Flags Portland Oregon
Portland Union Station Historic Moulded Ceiling with Chandelier in Black and White

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