Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info


Gray Purcell Construction Inc. (Gray Purcell) originally purchased the Balfour Guthrie Building with the intent to develop it for a local ad agency. However, changing circumstances forced the ad agency to pull out of the project after plan development and Gray Purcell found themselves with a project and no tenant. Soon thereafter, a real estate agent identified Thomas Hacker Architects (T·H·A) as one of three potential partners interested in sharing half ownership and occupying the historic building. T·H·A’s lease was up for renewal, and the firm wanted to locate within downtown Portland’s active urban environment. The two firms shook hands, formed Balfour Guthrie LLC, and began what Mike Purcell calls their "blind date" pursuit to rehabilitate the building.
T·H·A and Gray Purcell had never worked together and, before the project could progress, they spent a lot of time familiarizing themselves with each other’s objectives and ways of doing business. President and senior estimator of Gray Purcell Inc. Mike Purcell notes, "We started meeting often to get to know each other and this delayed the project a bit." The mutual trust that developed was essential, however, and the two firms took what Purcell describes as a "partnered approach to the construction". T·H·A, who had never worn the hat of developer, served as project designer and Gray Purcell managed all of the development and finances.
LEED was just beginning to gain popularity in the design community and both partners shared an interest in gaining practical experience with the fledgling green building rating system. Neither team had done a LEED project but Jonah Cohen, principal at T·H·A, notes that, "We have a core value of sustainability…it’s just how we do things." In addition, Cohen points out that most of their building designs in Portland inherently meet the LEED certified level due to comparable objectives between LEED and City building codes and ordinances. Despite a complex mix of project conditions and objectives, the team decided to utilize the fledgling LEED system and go for a silver rating, making it the second LEED certified building in Portland to be on the Historic Registry.
Keys to Success - Pre-design:
  • Designate time to discuss and align development objectives with partner(s)
  • Use the LEED green building rating system to help measure project performance