Outpost, designed by Skylab Architecture, is a phased, hybrid structure merging recreation, retail, and work environments to foster and reinforce a sense of community in a developing section of Hood River, Oregon.
As part of the city’s new Waterfront Masterplan, Outpost will eventually become a 5574-m2 (60,000-sf) development—a neighborhood of buildings that functionally connect the city with the Columbia River waterfront. The site, formerly home to an industrial wastewater treatment and processing facility, largely underutilized the waterfront but will now become a new paradigm for future development in the region.
Phase One is composed of two buildings, that together, result in a 2787-m2 (30,000-sf) complex that reimagines traditional mixes of spaces and how they are organized. Functioning as one large structure, each of the 1394-m2 (15,000-sf), three-story buildings are aligned within the exterior envelope to form what appears to be a simple bar-shaped building. The buildings, however, are separated like the hulls of a catamaran to create a central, shared open area for both buildings. The common area knits the two buildings together at each level and provides consolidated vertical circulation (elevators and stairs) and open spaces (exterior terraces) that function as gathering spaces and communal hubs. Largely open to the environment, this central area features an outside fireplace and an expansive partially covered pavilion.
The two buildings are unified through a shared exterior aesthetic with a mix of naturally finished cedar on the ground floor and charred cedar cladding on the upper two floors. The visual distinction between floors reveals the functional separations inside the building. The ground floor supports light industrial activities—a brewery, distillery, and maker spaces—with easy access and the opportunity for double-height spaces while the upper floors support retail, co-working, office, and recreation spaces. Circulation to upper levels is carved out along the buildings’ edges, providing weather protection and enhancing the experience for the visitor. Moving traditional street-level retail to the second floor activates these spaces in a dynamic way.
Built with efficiency in mind, the building’s structural framing is exposed to celebrate the simple means of construction. Locally sourced and sustainably harvested, laminated wood beams are complemented with infill walls and pathways made with Douglas fir decking. Outside, the oversized windows of the complex are based on traditional industrial proportions illuminating the building’s interiors with daylight. The windows provide an efficient, thermally broken commercial system with simple black aluminum frames. Inside, the warm wood interiors are familiar, conjuring images of early industrial buildings, barns, and mountain lodges. Daylighting and transparency within the building are also accentuated at the ground floor through glazed, double-height spaces that let visitors catch a glimpse of activity from within the building, conveying a sense of openness. Blackened steel handrails reinforce the industrial aesthetic.