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Urban Forest

Hyatt Centric Downtown Portland offers a bold, singular design that reflects the culture and beauty of The City of Roses while also serving as the perfect jumping-off point for guests and visitors to explore the local hotspots and landmarks that define the region. Designed by SERA Architects Hospitality Studio in partnership with Mortenson Construction & Development, the 15-story, 220-room Hyatt Centric Portland, which opened its doors on Feb. 20th, delivers a unique take on the city with a design that puts guests in touch with nature and pays homage to Portland’s colorful history. The hotel features a Catalan and Spanish-inspired restaurant, Masia, helmed by celebrated Portland chef Jose Chesa.

“The Hyatt Centric brand caters to savvy travelers who want unique, place-based experiences,” said Lisa Zangerle, principal, SERA Architects. “In a city deeply connected to its ecology, the Hyatt Centric Portland was designed as a gateway to the most recognizable Northwest experiences—the hotel embraces biophilic principles like the spectacular framed views of city icons, references to majestic forests, use of native materials, and a constantly changing character in response to daily and seasonal cycles of the micro-environment. The hotel mass appears to be supported by a colonnade of irregular wooden trunks, creating an ‘urban forest’ sheltering public areas.”

Led by SERA Principal Jeff Roberts, the design team focused on the natural landscape and history of the region, with a nod to the pioneers and Chinese immigrants who occupied the Tanner Creek Watershed where the hotel is situated. Inspired by the historic basket weaving techniques of the early settlers, SERA designed an undulating exterior that creates a series of moves between the vertical and horizontal components of the building.

This weaving, combined with a distinct geomorphic façade, which mimics the basalt colonnades of the surrounding area, emulates the urban forest, playing with the changing daylight to create a unique experience throughout the day. The sense of movement produced by the exterior panels and references to historic buildings and the region’s many trestle bridges establish a deep relationship to the fabric of the city and deliver a truly place-based experience.

“Known for its dynamic geometry, the volcanic rock provides a shape-shifting appearance as daylight hits it from different angles; the shifting light alters its character and shape throughout the day,” Zangerle said. “The Centric’s skin is composed of tapered panels to mimic a similar geometry of basalt along the Columbia Gorge. At times, the hotel appears reserved; the panels can even look monolithic under cloud cover or shade. But when the sun rakes across the face of the building, the façade comes to life, resulting in dynamic shifts of light, shadow and sculptural artistry. This playful dance varies every day under sunny conditions and even continues during the rainy season, as secondary light sources reflect on the wet surfaces of the building. Such a dynamic change in the building’s appearance is a symbolic metaphor for the city of Portland, a city where the most unique craft or accessory is hidden in plain sight by the most ordinary shop.”

SERA grounded the hotel’s design in biophilic and biomorphic principles, putting guests and visitors in contact with natural elements, from the timber colonnade on the exterior of the building to the views of the Portland skyline and angled slats of light in the hallways that evoke rays of light coming through the forest. The hotel’s design uplifts the spirit while also providing a safe, comfortable respite for weary travelers.

“The interior design of the hotel embraces Portland’s natural wonders while immersing guests in the exploration of the spirit of the local community,” she said. ” The building encourages visitors to discover local art, patterning, materiality, craftsmanship, color and cultural references and mementos—“Easter Eggs”—which are hidden throughout the hotel. The PDX adventure begins street-side, inviting visitors in through the modern timbered forest to join guests and locals in the intimate dining room or to have a drink around dynamic gathering spaces such as the lobby’s ‘base camp’ with its colorful, locally made neon tent. The environment encourages sharing stories of travel and exploration. The guest experience continues to evolve as guests make their way through the hallways up to their rooms.”

Based on the concept of expedition, the interior takes the exterior concepts—the natural forms, history of the area and the craftsmanship of the early settlers—into the building and energizes them with a vibrant, rose-dominant palette, a reference to Portland’s Rose Test Garden. The interior casework, lighting, artwork and angled furniture mimic the basalt-inspired exterior. The hotel lobby, which is dominated by a bright, neon tent, acts as the base camp where guests can congregate before they explore the city or wind down before settling in for the evening.

“I love the interaction of the exterior design, which to me is very kinetic, with the interior design. There are so many synergies between the two, which makes for a pretty holistic design. It was very rewarding to be part of the design process,” Zangerle said.

The rooms give every guest a unique experience through original artwork made with found and reused material by local artists and noteworthy amenities, including a vinyl record player and 24-in., handmade felt chickens in the hotel’s 13 suites, and other surprises to delight guests and enhance the user’s experience. Guestroom casework pieces, which have an inlay of a penny head and tail, and copper finishes throughout the hotel, are inspired by the 1845 coin toss that determined Portland’s name.

Additionally, Hyatt Centric Downtown Portland is pet-friendly and welcomes its pet guests with a bowl, treat and in-room bed. The hotel features a 24-hour fitness center and three meeting spaces, including the 1,368-sq.-ft. Pettygrove Room, which can be divided in half to accommodate smaller groups and 428-sq.-ft. technology-driven boardroom, Lovejoy, named after one of Portland’s founders.