Preserving a Local Landmark

Witherspoon & Sons

Witherspoon & Sons Hero Image


LSW Architects completed a major remodel of the historic Witherspoon & Sons building in Downtown Portland, Oregon, transforming it into an inspiring, creative, and flexible workspace.

Key Stats


Portland, OR

Total Square Footage

18,670 SF

Completion Date



The four-story Witherspoon & Sons building was constructed in the 1890’s, at a time when many of Portland’s historical landmarks were being developed. Since then, it has seen a variety of uses and changes, reflecting the city’s evolution over one hundred and twenty-five years.

Witherspoon & Sons
Witherspoon & Sons


One of our main objectives was to preserve and enhance elements of the building’s original character, creating a textural contrast between past and present. We accomplished this by exposing the brick walls and wood-framed ceilings. Reclaimed wood plank flooring is used throughout the building, while natural daylighting is provided by frameless glass and open stud walls.

Custom casework provides storage and layout for the various tenants. The countertops for the casework islands were milled from wood joists that had been demolished when seismic modifications had been made to the first floor. Tile mosaics at the new entries greet visitors and encourage them to “Be Brave”. 

Changes were made throughout the building to provide universal access to all areas.  This included leveling out floors and restructuring the front third of the building, providing sidewalk access to the front door.

Most of the project budget was geared toward life safety improvements.  As part of a seismic retrofit, huge footings and piers were installed around the perimeter to stabilize the unreinforced masonry building. Also included were extensive fire separations, a new fire sprinkler system, and a new exit stair for upper levels.

New electrical, lighting, plumbing and HVAC systems were installed to raise the overall level of comfort. Shower rooms on two levels coupled with bike storage facilities provide flexibility for users.

A new storefront façade responds to the era of the building, providing transparency to those on the street and a point of entry for the entire building.

Witherspoon & Sons
Witherspoon & Sons
Witherspoon & Sons
Witherspoon & Sons
Witherspoon & Sons


To make sustainability a key consideration with every project, we organize our efforts into the following categories: Energy Efficiency, Embodied Carbon, Human Health, and Resource Conservation. Each category is associated with goals, processes, and metrics that we use to hold ourselves accountable to our clients, our community, and to current and future generations. In alignment with our sustainability benchmarks for projects, the following features were implemented at the Witherspoon & Sons building:

Energy Efficiency

  • The first-floor storefront façade provides increased daylight into the space; Daylighting has been increased by opening these floors to the existing light well at the rear of the building

  • Improvements include electrical service replacement and HVAC improvements

Embodied Carbon 

  • Access to public transportation: the building is within easy walking distance of multiple light-rail and bus stops, making mass transit a convenient option for building users 

  • For commuters, bike storage is provided in the basement 

Human Health

  • A new elevator provides improved access for building users

  • A new plan improves access to the first floor tenant space and creates consolidated access to the upper floors via a main building entry and lobby area

  • The second and third floors are accessible by stairs and the new elevator 

  • Interior materials have been also selected to meet stringent VOC requirements

Resource Conservation 

  • The project’s urban location provides many sustainable benefits for the project. Rather than building on a greenfield site, the owner chose to capitalize on an existing site to keep development centralized

  • Efforts were made to keep as much of the existing structure as possible to save valuable resources and eliminate construction waste 

  • Much of the construction waste generated on the project was recycled or salvaged for re-use  

  • Interior finishes focus on sustainable, natural building materials such as reclaimed wood flooring 

  • Much of the existing brick, concrete, and wood structure have been left exposed to highlight its natural beauty and reduce use of additional finish materials

To read more about sustainability at LSW, download our Sustainability Action Plan here.

Energy Use Intensity

Witherspoon EUI

Witherspoon & Sons