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Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building

In the heart of downtown Portland, the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building stands at 18 stories overlooking the Willamette River. Named after Oregon House Representatives Edith Green and Wendell Wyatt for their service to the state, it has served as the offices of many federal agencies, including the IRS and the FBI for over 30 years. The Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building tapped into American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to transform the building from a resource waster into an energy and water efficient structure.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-04-Nic-Lehoux-800x1200 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

  • “This project is really heroic. It takes a really challenging building type, a generic, high rise office building, and rethinks it. By extending the perimeter and increasing square footage it paid for the redevelopment. The new facade responds to the different solar orientations, increasing the performance of the skin and allowing the building systems to incorporate high performance strategies. This project has the ability to inspire building owners and private developers to think more creatively.” – Jury Comments/AIA Top Ten Green Projects Awards
  • “This project illustrates how a 35 year old building can receive a new and exuberant life. With a complete re-skinning of this building in response to contemporary materials as well as solar strategies the architects have been able to “replace” the previous building while maintaining the integrity of the structure of the existing building. Most notable are the vertical dynamic sun protection screens that have been placed on the West façade. These screens not only protect the building surface but also define protective entry points for the users and visitors. The new south sloping roof is sheathed in PV panels which provide 5% of the energy needs for the building.” – Jury Comments/AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Awards
Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-05-Nic-Lehoux-800x1200 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

Completed in 1974, Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building occupies a city block in downtown Portland, Oregon. Alongside accessibility, life-safety, and other updates, this American Recovery and Reinvestment Act–funded modernization focused on transforming the 18-story office into an exemplar of environmental performance.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-07-Nic-Lehoux-759x506 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

A suite of mutually reinforcing sustainability solutions achieves that designation. For instance, a 25,000-square-foot rooftop canopy provides shade to the uppermost part of the tower while its embedded 180-kilowatt photovoltaic array supplies 4 percent of the building’s total energy. During storms, the canopy channels rainfall into a former basement-level rifle range, which has been converted into a 165,000-gallon cistern; captured stormwater is used for flushing toilets, cooling mechanicals, and irrigation. Measured in concert with drought-tolerant landscaping and a more efficient mechanical cooling tower, stormwater reclamation reduces potable water consumption to beat state code by 60 percent.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-11-Nic-Lehoux-759x506 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

The project’s approach to sunlight is another example of systemic environmental performance strategy. Replacing the precast-concrete exterior with a glass curtain wall achieved a 43 percent glazing-to-wall ratio and, because the new envelope occupies less slab area, the substitution increased rentable square footage dramatically. Converting to hydronic HVAC distribution raised interior ceiling heights and recovered another 6,000 square feet of interior, which was previously devoted to mechanical housing.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-12-Nic-Lehoux-759x506 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

To prevent overtaxing of the hydronic system, the design also considered increased daylighting through the new curtain wall. On the building’s south, west, and east elevations, steel “reeds” minimize solar heat gain through the larger expanses of glass; the shading devices are customized according to orientation. A ventilator recovers heat from exhaust air before it is released, to lessen HVAC loads further. Energy-efficient light fixtures with advanced lighting controls reduce energy consumption and waste heat simultaneously.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-23-Nic-Lehoux-800x1200 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

Holistic solutions are a hallmark of integrated project delivery, a collaborative alternative to traditional linear workflow. In this case core team members co-located on site, and they coordinated their work using BIM technology to avoid duplicated efforts. In addition to sustainability strategies, the delivery method focused on efficiency. Thanks to the orchestration of team members, the project was substantially completed 39 months after design start, with a budget largely set in 2005.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-24-Nic-Lehoux-800x1200 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

Modernization of Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building included a significant contribution to Portland’s public art sphere. The project conserved existing artwork and commissioned two new installations for the lobby: the rock ‘n’ roll–inspired acrylic sculpture Louie Louie by Las Vegas–based artist Tim Bavington and a camera-obscura representation of nearby forest by New York’s Vera Lutter. Here, too, attention was paid to choices made elsewhere in the renovation. Namely, artwork placement was planned in response to a new entry sequence, which was conceived as part of a more gracious process of approaching the building.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-28-flickr-David-Gn-759x506 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© flickr-David Gn

“This project transforms a generic concrete office building into a high-performance, environmentally responsive, comfortable place to work. There are a lot of existing, low-performance buildings out there that don’t contribute much to the urban fabric. In terms of impact, these are the buildings we need to address. This sets a great precedent for re-use and upgrade, and demonstrates the potential for creative, green reuse projects.” – Jury Comments / AIA Top Ten Awards

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-37-Nic-Lehoux-799x1200 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

Cutler Anderson Architects:

The old building was an energy hog, outdated and slated for demolition. But as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the owner, U. S. General Services Administration, hired Cutler Anderson Architects as Design Architect, with SERA Architects as Executive Architect to modernize the existing 18-story building to make it energy efficient, expand rentable space and increase blast resistance.

The building’s facades are tuned to respond to solar gain on each side; horizontal light shelves on the south and east sides, with vertical ‘reeds’ providing shade on the west. A mixture of evergreen and deciduous vegetation weaves through the reeds to provide shade in the summer and optimize daylight during the winter months. The exterior light shelves which bounce daylight 16 feet toward interior spaces are combined with occupancy sensors and task lighting to reduce overall energy loads.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-47-flickr-Robert-Lochner-759x451 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© flickr-Robert Lochner

A rainwater collecting roof canopy supports a 13,000 sq. ft. photovoltaic array and funnels water to a 165,000-gallon cistern in the basement which was repurposed from an old gun range. This water will be used in irrigation, low-flow toilets and a mechanical cooling tower. By expanding the envelope, the team added 31,000 of new office space.

This project began with a High Performance Green Building Workshop, where the design teams employed building information modeling (BIM) technology to develop and analyze data. The findings were then synthesized into an aesthetic expression to communicate sustainability on an emotional level, both inside and out. This LEED Platinum building will act as a showcase for renovation of other federal properties.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-53-Nic-Lehoux-759x517 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© Nic Lehoux

SERA Architects:

The Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building is an existing 18-story, 512,474 sf office tower located in downtown Portland. Originally completed in 1974, the building’s mechanical, electrical, data and fire and life safety systems were out-dated and worn out. The design by SERA and Cutler Anderson Architects completely transforms the building into a modern office environment for federal agencies.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-56-flickr-David-Gn-798x1200 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© flickr-David Gn

The work was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which required the project to meet the significant energy water conservation requirements of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). EGWW is LEED Platinum certified and will use 60-65% less energy than a typical office building. Combined with a unique rain water harvesting system, which is estimated to achieve greater than 65% potable water savings, the project exceeds the ARRA requirements and is projected to be one of the lowest energy use buildings in the United States.

Every building system was improved, including: a new energy-efficient building envelope; new highly energy-efficient mechanical, electrical, and voice/data telecommunications systems; a blast-resistant curtain wall; tenant and core upgrades; and seismic structural upgrades. The EGWW Federal Building is poised to be GSA’s national model for energy efficient renovation.

Edith-Green-Wendell-Wyatt-Federal-Building-By-Cutler-Anderson-SERA-Architects-58-flickr-AGC-of-America-759x552 Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building / Cutler Anderson & SERA Architects

© flickr-AGC of America

Project Data:

Project name: Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building
Location: 1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Portland Oregon 97204, United States
Coordinates: 45.514444, -122.677034
Type: Adaptive Reuse / Redevelopment / Refurbishment, Skyscraper, Office Building
Gross Floor Area: 48,774 sqm / 512,474 sq.ft
Height: 110 m
Floors Above Ground: 18
Floors Below Ground: 2
Sustainability: Certified LEED Platinum
Status: Built
Cost: $141,500,000
Completion Year: May 2013


  • 2015 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA Top Ten Awards – Plus Winner
  • 2015 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA Washington Council Awards – Civic Design Awards – Citation Award
  • 2014 – The American Institute of Architect (AIA Awards) – AIA Top Ten Awards – Green Projects – Winner
  • 2014 – United States General Services Administration (GSA) Awards – GSA Design Excellence Award – Honor Award
  • 2014 – The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Awards – Category: Best Tall Building Americas – Winner
  • 2014 – DJC Top Projects Award – Category: Renovation – Winner
  • 2014 – IES Illumination Awards (Illuminating Engineering Society) – Portland, Oregon Section Award for Energy and Environment
  • 2014 – Better Bricks Commercial Real Estate Awards – Sustainable Project of the Year
  • 2013 – AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Awards – Merit Award
  • 2013 – AIA TAP BIM Award – COAA Owners’ Choice Award: Renovation/Retrofit Award – Winner
  • 2012 – AIA TAP BIM Award – Category: Delivery Process Innovation – Winner
  • 2010 – Portland 2030 Challenge Design Award – Category: As Designed

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: U.S. General Services Administration


Design Team:

  • Design Architect: James Cutler, FAIA Cutler Anderson Architects
  • Principal in Charge: Don Eggleston, SERA Architects
  • Project Manager: Jennifer Taylor, SERA Architects
  • Project Architect: James Riley, SERA Architects
  • Project Architect: Pat Munter, Cutler Anderson Architects
  • Contracting Officer: Pat Brunner, GSA Northwest / Arctic Region 10


  • General Contractor: Howard S Wright Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering: Stantec Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering: PAE Consulting
  • Plumbing: Interface Engineers
  • Structural and Civil Engineering: KPFF
  • Landscape Architecture: PLACE studio
  • Acoustical: Charles M. Salter Associates, Inc.
  • Fire Life Safety: Aegis Engineering

Text Description: © Courtesy of Cutler Anderson Architects, SERA Architects, U.S. General Services Administration, AIA Top Ten Green Projects Awards, GSA Design Excellence Award
Images: © Cutler Anderson Architects, SERA Architects, Nic Lehoux, flickr-AGC of America, flickr-David Gn, flickr-Alene Davis, flickr-CopyBlock, flickr-Robert Lochner, flickr-Jeffery P., Flickr-Scott Withers, flickr-Roger

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