by Jerry ElengicalDec 06, 2021
Established by Nike veteran Sandy Bodecker, who was instrumental in setting up and proliferating the sportswear giant's skateboarding and football divisions, in 2017, the NM Bodecker Foundation was developed with an aim to provide creative communities with a “dynamic mix of in-person spaces for workshops, gathering, and collaboration”. The foundation’s building in Portland, Oregon, was originally conceived as a creative home for Bodecker, finding its definition as a juxtaposed conglomeration of repurposed 1950s-era warehouses and a former parking lot. The keyword here, lent by Bodecker himself before his passing in 2018, was ‘labyrinth’, allowing visitors and patrons to feel a sense of discovery traversing the building’s spaces, of seeing things in new ways as people completed their respective journeys. The industrial looking building with jagged edges and bold shades is an embodiment of that idea.
What transpired in the building’s design development was much more comprehensive and complex than an adaptive reuse of the fused warehouse structures. Considered as a singular mass, the integrated warehouses were reworked into a shifting mix of exterior and interior environments by ‘cutting into’ the combined volume and modifying spaces, retaining only a faint memory of their historic boundaries. The same juxtaposition extends to the roof profile too, with the roof of one warehouse being peeled back to be melded with another’s sliced profile. The result is a volumetrically rich composition of different structures occupying a unitary space, but projecting a morphing visual character on the exterior, as one moves from one visibly transient division to the other. In other words, while the individual warehouse structures remain identifiable, a succinct visual interest is ignited in the overlapping of planes. “From the street, the rectangular warehouse forms are balanced with complex prismatic forms to create a rich visual composition,” states the official release.
Following Bodecker’s passing in 2018, the Foundation fully occupied the building, opening the facility’s unique mix of spaces to emerging artists and performers, like-minded organisations, and a number of creative professionals, in line with the Foundation’s aim to inspire creativity and collaboration, and Bodecker’s aim to “create an environment that inspires openness to explore, learn and find the unlimited curiosity you once had when you were a kid”.
What holds this structural and facial conglomeration together is a new central core building from which the other functions emanate. The building, in turn, “blends the past with the future through its interplay of interior spaces”, comprising a variable spatial programme consisting of living areas, a series of informal performance spaces, a state-of-the-art recording studio, and an indoor skate park, that serves to be the highlight of the building’s interiors.
Apart from the multi-storey functional core of the Foundation, the primary spaces open to each other at the ground floor to allow access to these spaces of creation. The living spaces for the artist-in-residence program are stacked above on the second and third floors, overlooking but still connected to the activity below. Approximately one-third of the site is reserved as green space that helps in managing stormwater and other services, along with serving as extension of the complex’s communal spaces, and to let visitors seek inspiration in the outdoors.
The building materials used in the Foundation come forth to present an intriguing material palette, ranging from repurposed elements preserved from demolition to contemporary finishes, mostly lent to the areas of the building that were completely newly built, contrasted by design against the “time-worn patina” of the more vintage elements in the Foundation. Exposed wooden trusses, mixed but complementary carpet patterns, and wall cladding in steel and unfinished plywood round out the interior design palette of this centre for creative collaboration, with a strong focus on the materials’ internal integrity, their ability to age naturally, especially when viewed against the retained part of the building, and their ability of expressing a heightened notion of craftsmanship.