Architect: W.H. McCaully/remodel: SERA Architects, 1922,
1936; remodeled 1986
If you are well-traveled, this reinforced-concrete building may look familiar to you, as there are seven others like it in the country. This was M. Ward's first West Coast warehouse, and that's what it looks like from afar: nine spacious stories of M. Ward merchandise. A closer look belies this, as in 1989 the building emerged from what was supposedly the biggest renovation project west of the Mississippi. For $32 million, the old warehouse became the impressive and spacious home to a nine-story atrium, convention/event areas, and office space.
The building was originally built in an "L" shape, with the final wing added in the 1930s. Its steel-framed roof sign (with two letters switched out) is the largest in Portland and can be easily read by the naked (or clothed) eye from the other side of the Willamette.
Since you're in the neighborhood, take a quick bike ride northward on 30 and look at the moldering Portland Gas and Coke Company Building (circa 1915, a.k.a. Pacific Gas and Electric Building, 7900 NW St. Helens Rd). This splendid mess of a structure has gone unused since 1957. It's the former headquarters of a now-unused natural gas plant, and is sited next to one of the most polluted spots in the Portland area. This explains the nickname that former workers gave the site: "Portland Gasp and Choke."