Hugh Stubbins, the lead architect, started out with one goal in mind in 1984. Pacwest would be a delight to three distinct audiences: those people who see it from afar as a sculptural share on the skyline, those people who walk by it and see only the first floor or two, and those people who work inside and thereby spend half their waking hours in it.
Architect Hugh Stubbins had heard all about Portland well before he arrived. He was Dean of Architecture at Harvard when his friend Pietro Belluschi was Dean of Architecture down the street at MIT. He knew about the climate and the views and Portland architecture before he came. A clear aluminum façade was his choice, although it is not commonly used because its expense. As he explains, “Clear aluminum is a perfect façade material for a climate that is varied. On bright sunny days it dulls to look like a matte white. On overcast days it is luminous – it seemingly picks up and amplifies light rays.”
One of architecture’s favorite optical illusions is the use of lines. Stubbins used horizontal lines as a means to make the building appear slimmer than it actually is. He used the same trick when he designed the Citicorp Center in New York City.
Another illusion utilized in the design was the appearance of two separate towers. Stubbins’ term for the twin tower illusion is that they are “embracing rectangles”. This allowed for the fabulous sky-terrace design on the 25th floor, as well as the dramatic cantilever effect above the retail base.
The staircase: the structure was designed around a large removable area in each tenant floor. When tenants occupy more than one floor, now or later, the floors can be connected with a private interior stairway.
The glass in each of the corners is a massive pane, ½ inch thick, over seven feet high and curved on a five foot radius… they view a 270 degree continuous panorama of volcanoes, rivers and green hills. Hugh chose tinted white glass which allows almost twice the light to pass as compared to reflexive glass