This project was featured in the July / August 2021 issue of ARCHITECT.

Nesika Illahee was designed to send a message. With a name that means “Our Place” in the Chinook language, this affordable housing development in the Cully neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, honors the city’s Native American community. Twenty of the project’s 59 units are reserved for members of federally recognized tribes, and the building itself features colorful cladding and prominent artwork, including an intricate mural by the nation’s artist Yakama Toma Villa and a basalt sculpture by Lillian Pitt, a Native American artist from the Pacific Northwest. With funding from the Confederate Tribes of the Siletz Indians, the 53,024-square-foot, $ 10.1 million project marks the first time that an Indian housing block grant – funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for affordable housing in indigenous areas – was used for off-reserve housing.

Designed by local company Carleton Hart, Nesika Illahee was developed in partnership with Portland community development partners, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA) and the Tribes Confederates of Siletz. Indians. The project builds on Generations, a tower of 40 affordable housing units, completed in 2017, which the company designed with NAYA. We learned “the importance of bringing the community to the table early in the process,” says Brian Carleton, AIA, Co-Founder and Chief of Staff.

For Nesika Illahee, Carleton Hart held weekly meetings with community representatives from NAYA and NARA during the schematic design and design development phase and bi-weekly meetings during the construction documents phase. The company incorporated comments, such as the importance of support spaces for tenants, which were carefully collected “by an Indigenous consultant who has a ton of experience working directly with clients,” says Oscar Arana, director of community development for NAYA.

Carleton Hart based his design on organic forms, drawing inspiration from the salt outcrops of the northwest for the interior and exterior mass of the building. “It’s about the community, the context and the links… with each other, but also the links with the territory”, explains Julia Mollner, AIA, partner and project architect.

Hoping to ensure the project was “open to many tribes and cultures,” the company favored neutral tones and natural materials, avoiding colors and patterns that might show “preferential treatments for Chinook, Siletz or n ‘anyone else’, explains Martin Segura, AIA, partner and project manager at the firm.

Inside, the design team adapted the wood-frame project to formerly homeless and recovering residents, designing wellness rooms for private counseling and an airy community room on the ground floor. – floor. Accordion doors in the room blur the line between interior and exterior, emphasizing a connection with the exterior. The team organized the community areas with care, placing the Resident Services Coordinator’s office near the main entrance. “We were trying to create spaces where the resident services coordinator had to engage with tenants as they arrived,” says Arana. One of the questions was: “How do you create a space where people constantly see each other, meet, talk and communicate with each other? ”

On the upper floors, birch panels with room numbers adorn the individual units, which accommodate intergenerational families. The design team included the frame for the connecting doors between multi-bedroom units and neighboring studios, allowing easy connection between adjacent rooms.

Since its completion last year, Nesika Illahee has filled up, with 93% of its resident-headed households identifying themselves as members of the Native American community. “What we’ve learned from working with NAYA is the success of bringing a culture to be visible and tactile,” says Carleton.

Project credits
Project: Nesika Illahee, Portland, Ore.
Client / Owner: Community development partners, NAYA (Native American Youth and Family Association), NARA (Native American Rehabilitation Association) (sponsor)
Architect: Carleton Hart, Portland. Brian Carleton, AIA (lead), Martin Segura, AIA (project manager, partner), Julia Mollner, AIA (project architect, partner)
Mechanical engineer: Systems Design Consultants (MEP)
Structural engineer: Consulting Engineers TM Rippey
Electrical Engineer: Systems Design Consultants (MEP)
Civil engineer: Humber Design Group
General contractor : LMC Construction
Landscape architect: Ecotone Environment
Radon: Radon green
Surveyor: Chase, Jones & Associates (Owner Consultant)
Geotechnical engineer: Black Mountain Consulting (Owner consultant)
Cut: 53,024 square feet
Cost: $ 10.1 million

Materials and products
Acoustic system: Armstrong Cirrus Second Look III
Adhesives, Coatings and Sealants: Excelsior WB-600; Armstrong S-599; Patrol 410; Tarkett / Centiva SP6000; Patrol 5000; Shaw / Patcraft 1000; Moistop sealant and liquid flashing; OSI Quad Max
Appliances: Whirlpool Small Space Dishwasher – WDF550SAH; Whirlpool 190CFM 30in Large Under Cabinet Range; Shoe with incandescent lighting – W10646400A; Whirlpool Countertop Microwave – WMC30516H; Whirlpool Over the Range Microwave – WMH31017H; 30 ” Whirlpool Freestanding Electric Range; General Electric 30 ” Slide-In Electric Range – JD630DF; Whirlpool under-counter dishwasher; Whirlpool Top Freezer Refrigerator
Bathroom facilities: Gerber; Sloan; Moen; Chicago faucet; Woodford
Tiled carpet: Mat’s Inc Connexus Super Nop 52 – Tweed Brown color size 19.69 “x19.68”; Shaw Diffuse 59575 color Climate 75765 24 “x24” format; Patcraft I0500 Rebalance color Tree Line – Strataworx Support
Carpet in sheets: Patcraft PDQ Basic Pace I0250 Parade color – wide mat
Cabinets: Lanz Face Frame Cabinets
Ceilings: Armstrong: Cirrus Second Look III
Exterior wall systems: Fortifibre; Fortiflex; James Hardie; Henkel
Resilient Sheet Flooring: Armstrong DecoArt Abode – “Raw Linen” and Almond Gray color; Armstrong ColorArt Medintone – color ‘Rock Dust Light
Luxury vinyl tile flooring: Patcraft Woodland View 1300V hazelnut color; Commons – Tarkett / Centive Event Shinko color Natural Cherry
A glass: General Glass Co.; Kawneer; Vitro
Gypsum: Hamilton Drywall Products; United States Gypsum Co .; CertainTeed GlasRock Shaftliner Type X
HVAC: Amana – Air Conditioner / Heat Pump Terminal Conditioning; Transport companies; Panasonic – Fan
Greenheck – Vents and Fans; Titus – Grilles, registers and diffusers; Pottorff – Shutters; King – Thermostat
Insulation: Thermafiber – Mineral fiber insulation
Kitchen appliances: Moen
Lighting control systems: Lithonia lighting; Gotham lighting; Gammalux lighting systems
Lighting: Progress lighting; Fanimation; V2 lighting group; Lithonia lighting; Holm lighting; Lumenpulse

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