The Fair Haired Dumbbell is composed of two 6 story buildings with a combined 56,000 SF in total open collaborative office space. The distinct layout and design of the two buildings are connected together by sky bridges at each floor, a feature that lends itself to the “dumbbell” moniker. The project is located at the East end of the Burnside Bridge making it an instant attention grabbing icon as you cross over to Portland’s East side. In collaboration with Andersen Construction and FFA Architecture + Interiors, WPI installed the Dryvit Outsulation Plus MD System as the building’s exterior envelope. This envelope system acted as a blank white canvas for the brightly colored hand painted artwork on all 8 elevations.
This project is very unique for a plethora of reasons. First, the project construction was partially crowd funded through the management of Portland based Guerrilla Development company. This made it possible for unaccredited investors (average people) to invest in the development of this property. This project is also unique for its design. Not only is shaped like a dumbbell, the footprint of the 6th floor is 3 feet wider than the first floor on each side of the building. This means that the walls are canted outward from the ground up, giving it a very distinctive and almost cartoonish looking shape. This project is also unique because it is hand painted with a multicolored artwork mural. Thus making it stand out like no other building in the City of Portland.
There were many challenges during the construction of this project, mostly stemming from the buildings unique shape. The canted angle of the walls made it a challenge for WPI’s plasterers to work as the exterior wall sloped outward 1 foot for every 20 feet of vertical rise. There was also no grooves on the elevations other than the floor line expansion joints. This meant that the work was completed each floors elevation without any breaking points. Another challenge on this project was the use of a new innovative product by Dryvit called called Starter board. Starter Board is a pre-mesh embedded EPS starter strip and it was a completely new product that had never been installed in the Northwest before this project. The WPI team was able to overcome all of these items and complete what will surely be recognized as one of Portland’s most iconic buildings. The Fair Haired Dumbbell was awarded the 2018 NWCB Exterior Project of the Year Award.