Hassalo on Eighth | From Urban Blight to LEED Platinum Neighborhood

Honor Award

Residential Design

Portland, OR, USA
Client: American Assets Trust

"This multifamily residential development in Portland, Oregon, is a model of sustainability, environmental sensitivity, and urbanism. Using green roofs, extensive rain gardens and constructed wetlands, and a pedestrian “water street” that collects and conveys stormwater to its own Natural Organic Recycling Machine, it’s the first and largest project of its type to treat one-hundred percent of its wastewater on site. With parking for 1,200 bikes, as well as pedestrian-friendly amenities and gathering places, it makes a significant contribution to the urban fabric, demonstrating the power of landscape architecture to blend both green and social virtues in a seamless whole."

- 2019 Awards Jury

Project Credits

  • PLACE (Landscape Architect)
  • GBD Architects
  • Glumac Engineers – M/E/P Engineering
  • KPFF Engineers - Structural Engineering
  • HHPR – Civil Engineering
  • GeoDesign – Geological Consulting
  • Biohabitats - Green Infrastructure
  • Turner Construction Company - Contractor

Project Statement

Envisioned with ethos of an "eco-district," Hassalo on Eighth is LEED Platinum urban development with innovative sustainable technologies and amenities for renewable and clean energy, green roofs, a bike hub, and access to mass transportation. It is also one of the first and largest North American neighborhoods to treat and recycle wastewater on site. NORM, Natural Organic Recycling Machine, diverts away from the municipal sewer 100% of the wastewater generated in the three residential buildings. The system lessens the burden on public utilities, saving costly repairs and infrastructure expansion and garnering considerable support from the City and State DEQ. NORM treats 45,000 gallons per day through a series of trickling filters and constructed wetlands integrated into the design of the park-like pedestrian water street, an epicenter of the landscape. Unused treated wastewater is injected into dry wells for crucial groundwater recharge in a largely impervious urban area, ensuring that no element of this new 'waste' stream is wasted.

Project Narrative

A LEED ND Platinum community, Hassalo on Eighth transformed Portland's underdeveloped urban commercial zone into a vibrant, eco-friendly, 24-hour neighborhood. Redefining the superblock as the "ultimate revenge of the pedestrian," Phase 1, Hassalo on Eighth, is a 1.1 million square foot, the city's largest-ever residential development with more than 650 sustainable housing units in Portland's Lloyd Eco-district and anticipated 1,000 market rate four-block Phase 2, the Oregon Square. Located at the nexus of transportation near Portland's entertainment and shopping district, where eastside meets central city, Hassalo on Eighth is one of the continent's most significant bike parking projects encompassing 1, 200 below-grade stalls with showers, lockers, valet and repair services.

Three new multifamily housing buildings of varying density: Velomor, a 6-story, 177-apartment mid-rise on the southeast corner; The Elwood Building, a 5-story, 143-apartment mid-rise on the northeast corner; and Aster, a 21-story, 337-apartment tower on the southeast corner replace existing surface parking with 820,000 square feet of residential space and 50,000 square feet of commercial area with an exciting lineup of local entrepreneurs. Street level retail includes an anchor grocer along with immediate access to both the Portland MAX light-rail and the Portland Streetcar systems while the community plaza and water street contribute to the district's increased human cityscape. The disposition of massing on the four-block development was carefully analyzed to preserve access to sunlight to the central plaza and water street.

At the forefront of the National Resilient Cites' trend, the Hassalo on Eighth manages all the water via the largest onsite decentralized treatment and reuse system in North America, a Natural Organic Recycling Machine (NORM), located in the community's 13,000 square feet main plaza and along the water street, the district's heart and soul. The water street engages multiple green roofs covering over 38,000 square feet into an expressive recycling system redirecting flow away from stressed city sewer infrastructure and having a net positive impact on stormwater. NORM treats and recycles 100% of the grey and black water through a series of trickling filters and constructed wetlands designed to meet 100% of the toilet flushing, cooling, and landscape irrigation demand. As a result, wastewater is diverted from the municipal sewer system with NORM generating no waste and bio-solids reducing water usage for the four buildings by 50% or approximately 7.3 million gallons of water per year.

The system handles 45,000 gallons of waste water per day and treats it to State of Oregon Class A reuse standards through a series anaerobic tanks, trickle filters, tidal wetlands, filtration, UV treatment, and storage. All of this constructed beneath the four-block district's pedestrian water street creating an exposed look wholly unique from the surrounding neighborhood. Excess treated wastewater is stored in dry wells for groundwater recharge through infiltration, which, in addition to helping prevent wastewater from being futile, is critical to the surrounding urban area covered largely by walkways, buildings, and city streets. The area's wastewater system was in such need of innovation that the city discounted its system development charges by 60 percent, typically assesses to projects requiring infrastructure improvements. Natural Organic Recycling Machine (NORM) not only conserves water for the area, it is also a cost-saving solution that frees the city from any further strain on its infrastructure. In all, the reduction in system development charges, operations and maintenance, required testing, and capital investment resulted in a 2.4-year payback to the project.

Transforming daily experience and perception of this underutilized district in the heart of Portland, Hassalo on Eighth places emphasis on livability with sensitive planning, outdoor comfort, and enterprising urban ecological infrastructure. Along with NORM, the green roofs and rainwater harvesting gardens are part of the stormwater capture system, a symbol of the development's progressive environmental identity, a model of green design, and Portland's first Eco-district. The green roofs also reduce peak flows during large rain events by retaining stormwater and preventing runoff from overwhelming the system. A 60,000-gallon cistern harvests rooftop rainwater and recirculates it through a riverine water feature within an entire block of water street. Due to the innovative placemaking strategies the project was allowed a refund of the system development charges, water and sewer fees, totaling $1.48 million. In all, the reduction in system development charges, operations and maintenance, required testing, and capital investment resulted in a 2.4-year payback to the project.

The Hassalo on Eighth landscape framework incorporates principles of biophilic design creating a nest of eco-roofs, extensive stormwater gardens, and at its core, a pedestrian water street. Landscape improvements restored the site's water cycle to pre-Lewis & Clark conditions, lessening the burden on aging infrastructure, reducing peak flows, and recharging aquifers. The site's green infrastructure backbone, the water street, collects, conveys and treats stormwater as part of larger integrated system. Its flowing waterways are sourced from harvested rainwater; its formation brings joy to people and quenches the thirst of the growing urban ecosystem. The large planters create a linked network of green islands, which along with the eco-roofs, quadrupled the site's vegetated footprint. Planted with a diverse native and naturalized palette, the water street and associated gardens support migratory song birds and create a pollinator pathway. A dense, walkable community, the development taps into a superb transit system and promotes cycling, allowing residents to leave auto-dependence.

Science is put on display with civic open space of respite inherent to creative design. Eco roofs were used throughout to mitigate heat island effect while also insulating the buildings beneath to help reduce energy consumption. The existing 1970's office building underwent an energy retrofit to target over 50% energy savings. The 270,000 sf skin was re-sealed with the Central Utility Plant equipment replaced. Synergy was found in the new mechanical systems with the ground level retail uses by the sharing of heating and cooling load connecting the uses through water loop to heat pumps within the new construction. Reclaimed water from the on-site wastewater treatment facility is used to replenish water lost within the cooling tower of the office building. LED lighting is used throughout the project to realize additional energy savings in excess of 30% of current code requirements.

The landscape, integral to the experience, is also a place where one learns about the sustainability. The knowledge is shared with the occupants via feedback dashboards displaying shared energy savings, water savings, local transit times and with hopes that similar solutions are transferable to future local developments.

Hassalo on Eighth ultimately represents a model of environmental and social sustainability. The development has added housing to a transit-served area with over 25,000 jobs in the walkable vicinity. Weekend markets, movie screenings, and seasonal festivities in the central plaza contribute to district's attractive image and establish a community which celebrates the Eco-district ethic within a livable metropolis.


Product Sources: SOILS

  • Clackamas Compost, ProGro

Product Sources: HARDSCAPE

  • CalPortland, Mutual Materials, SynLawn (synthetic turf)

Product Sources: LIGHTING

  • Selux, Lumec, Meteor

Product Sources: FURNITURE

  • Creative Pipe (bike racks), Forms+Surfaces, Landscape Forms, Tourensol Siteworks, Viking

Product Sources: DRAINAGE

  • Nyloplast, ADS, ACO Drain

Product Sources: FENCE/GATES

  • Instafab Company, Inc., Pacific Metal Works

Product Sources: IRRIGATION

  • Cresline, Ridgeline, JM Eagle, CertainTeed, Ipex, Lasco, Spears, Matco-Norca, Apollo Valves, Rainbird, Irritrol, Toro, Amiad

Product Sources: LUMBER/DECKING

  • Columbia Green (metal edging)


  • Deep Root (Silva Cells), JM Eagle (Gravity Sewer)

Product Sources: GREEN ROOFS

  • Malarkey, Columbia Green

Plant List:

  • Trees: Redbud, Columnar Linden, Black Birch, Natchez White Crepe Myrtle
  • Stormwater: Slough Sedge, Spreading Rush, Juncus Balticus, Red Twig Dogwood, Dwarf Tufted Hairgrass, Dwarf Virginia Sweetspire
  • Water Reservoir: Soft Rush, Bowles Golden Sedge, Japanese Rush
  • Other: Caesar’s Brother Siberian Iris, Autumn Moor Grass, Boxleaf Honeysuckle, Creeping Rosemary, American Smoketree"