Bud Clark Commons - CODAworx

Bud Clark Commons

Submitted by Xylia Buros

Client: Home Forward

Location: Portland, OR, United States

Completion date: 2011

Project Team


Dave Otte

Holst Architecture

Landscape Architect

Michael Reed



As a centerpiece of Portland, Oregon’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, Bud Clark Commons (BCC) represents a new approach to providing dignified housing and comprehensive services to help those experiencing homelessness. The 106,000sf LEED Platinum project includes a walk-in day center with access to services; a 90-bed temporary shelter; and 130 efficient, furnished studio apartments for homeless men or women seeking permanent housing with support services. BCC achieves a perceivable balance between the rigorous programmatic requirements of a coalition led by the City of Portland, a progressive design approach, and innovative sustainable building practices.


The goal of integrating artwork into the gate was to provide inspiration, connection, and relief from the institutional program. After dozens of precedent studies and team trips to facilities across the U.S., it became clear that there would be a need for both security and inspiration at BCC. As the design progressed, the idea of using words as graphics, and the concepts of safety and inspiration, all come together at the entry gate to the public courtyard, which then leads to the day center.

The 16-foot-wide gate is the first part of the building many people will encounter, so it was important that it set the tone for the rest of the building and how an occupant experiences it. The gate, on the northeast corner of the building, leads to a public courtyard that offers a peaceful refuge from the chaos of the streets, and a dignified place for homeless individuals to wait for services and socialize. Holst Architecture collaborated with Mayer/Reed on environmental graphics for the gate, which contains inspiring quotations that are waterjet-cut from recycled weathering steel. The result is a powerful and welcoming entrance that establishes connections to the community and to the shared human condition.


Holst Architecture led the multi-disciplined design team to create a landmark welcoming gesture. Mayer/Reed landscape architects studied the courtyard space planning and access points, which led to the solution of a 16-foot wide threshold. Function, structure, details, and integration with the surrounding fence and fence pattern were the responsibility of Holst. The letterforms were intended to provide a softening and visual relief from angled forms in the architecture and the geometric fence pattern.

The design team worked with the client to generate content that captures an inclusive spiritual message, with multiple voices, faith backgrounds, and cultures represented. In the final typographic layout, the multiple perspectives become stacked—creating an artful and unexpected word and idea association. Mayer/Reed developed the final graphic layout; Holst oversaw fabrication and installation, ensuring a seamlessly integrated final piece. It was a very collaborate process, made better by each group’s input and expertise.

Additional Information

Gate quotations: What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want; it has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. – Saint_Augustine Be a lamp, a lifeboat, a ladder, help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd. – Mevlana Rumi When you were born you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice. – Cherokee Proverb