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House of the Week: A Portland House by America’s Hottest Architect

Allied Works Architecture is where it's at.

Price: $1,950,000 Details: 4,255 sq/ft. 4 Beds, 4 Baths

Neighbourhood: Raleigh Hills (overlooking downtown Portland)

The Skinny: My guess is that if you polled a cross-section of North American architects and asked them to name an architect on the rise that a whole bunch of them would say Brad Cloepfil and his Allied Works architecture practice. A few years ago they were known  mostly as a regional presence around Oregon, but since then a series of very high profile projects—The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, the addition to the Seattle Art Museum, the soon to open national Music Centre in Calgary—has raised their profile nationally, then internationally. The upside of this is that the firm’s rise has been so quick that there are still quite a few of their recent houses kicking around at prices that don’t have a huge supplement for their architectural pedigree.

The Pros: Portland is seriously undervalued when placed in the San Fran, Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary matrix. This is a modern house, which are invariably more expensive to both build and buy, that not only has near-perfect views of downtown and the Willamette river but is easily walkable to both. Cloepfil worked with the famed Swiss architect Mario Botta in Switzerland before founding Allied Works and the faced of this house with it’s unorthodox use of brick sort of harken’s to Botta’s design for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It’s modern, but with the brick and the extensive use of wood inside, it’s a warm modern.

The Cons: While this may be a deal by Vancouver standards, this is still a lot of money in Portland where for 25% less you could get a 1913, 7,500 sq/ft mansion in a slightly better neighbourhood. There’s little or no yard either, and the furnishings are way down-market for a house this expensive (though the hardware seems fine, if not overly swish). Also property taxes in Portland are insane—this one was $19,353 last year!

The Verdict: You’re paying a lot for the pedigree here but good luck finding a modern house but a soon-to-be modern master for much less. Portland is a amazing city, and being able to stroll down to Tasty N Alder for breakfast or the Multnomah Whisky Library for a nightcap is appealing. But if you shop around you could probably buy a nice house by Seattle’s Tom Kundig—who enjoys maybe even a loftier reputation that Cloepfil—for the same money in a more expensive market. Still, if you selling up here and moving down there you’ll get some sweet modern bang for your buck.

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