Home Tour Alert! Step Inside Portland's Most Stunning Modernist Houses

The popular annual AIA homes tour unlocks eight gems of contemporary home design.

By Alex Madison September 28, 2015 Published in the September 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

H2 exterior 01 orq7s4

H2 Home. Image courtesy Deca Architecture.

Eight of Portland’s sharpest modern homes open their doors for self-guided tours on Oct 3, as the American Institute of Architects’ popular curation of design eye-candy returns for its sixth year. This year’s tour includes renovations, additions, and new construction on already-existing infrastructure, tapping into the dialogue about reuse, reinvention, and expansion rampant among new Portland home owners.

 “Portland has become a center for renovation and design and this tour represents the pinnacle of that design movement.” says Cornell Anderson, architect and 2015 AIA tour curator. From mid-century to ‘80s, each home reflects a balanced blend of traditional aesthetic, modernized efficiency, and progressive architecture. As AIA’s Amy Sabin says, “This year each of the homes had unique architectural challenges that illustrate to the public why design really matters.” Tickets are sold online in advance at or the day of the tour at the AIA office located on NW 11 Ave for $40 per person. Tickets purchased in advance can be picked up anytime at the AIA office.

Arlington heights 01 c59dhp

Image courtesy Scott | Edwards Architecture.

Arlington Heights, Scott - Edwards Architecture: Nestled above the Washington Park Rose Garden, this new home was built on the site of the old Canterbury castle, a once-iconic structure that perched on the edge of a steep and challenging site. The two-story home cantilevers out over the steeply sloping side, taking full advantage of the stunning views of Mt. Hood, while the exterior of the home seamlessly blends with the historical character of its surrounding neighborhood.

Do house malcolm lee photocredit pz3bux

Photograph by Malcolm Lee.

Do House, Architecture W: Designed to compliment the home’s existing mid-century characteristics and its landscape in the most natural way, a renovation resulted in a traditional Portland lap-siding wrapped exterior and a modernist palette of white walls and walnut accented interiors. An open floor plan designed around a core stair engages the views of the Cascade Mountains.

Five Square, Lever Architecture: An aggressive remodel shifted the volume of this erstwhile traditional Portland four-square home slightly off center and added space above the second floor to capture views of the West Hills through large windows on all four sides of the space. Inside, walls were removed and structure was added to create a large living/dining/kitchen area where the modern, striking white walls soak up the natural light designed to immerse the interior of the home.

Five square jeremy bitterman  photo credit one8qp

Photograph by Jeremy Bitterman.

Garden exterior sally schoolmaster photocredit qgihcr

Photograph by Sally Schoolmaster.

Garden House, Waechter Architecture: The accessory dwelling unit added to this SE Clinton home was designed with minimalistic and streamlined architecture to compliment the sculptural quality of the home. Exaggerated eaves cantilever ten feet on both sides of the ADU creating protected outdoor living spaces below, while the gutter-less detail makes for a smooth “knife edge” profile. Windows sprawl across entire walls, looking onto maple plywood interiors and smooth concrete floors.

H2 Home, DECA Architecture: This new construction project on a two-story 1980s home was sculpted to draw natural light into the home’s major spaces, using high clerestory windows for direct and reflected light off of light-colored concrete walls. To engage views, the floor plan places the major living spaces on the second floor and the interior design evokes modern simplicity and fine detailing.

H2 interior 01 lkyffi

H2 Home. Image courtesy Deca Architecture.

House C, Office 52 Architecture: Fire damage to this Belmont neighborhood home prompted an overhaul, adding a third floor and exterior spaces. The design incorporated a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces while sensitively blending into the neighborhood vernacular. Pursuing an Earth Advantage certification, the home was designed with sustainability features including heat recovery ventilation, an on-demand water system, high-performance windows, and infrastructure for future photovoltaic installation.

Office 52 house c eight square bittermann qywbw9

Photograph by Jeremy Bitterman.

Myrtle Midcentury, Giulietti/Schouten Architects: A complete renovation to this 1957 Van Evera Bailey home resulted in a second-level addition and two extra bedrooms while retaining the midcentury aesthetics and large overhangs. A tapered upper level floor plan was used to diminish the scale of the addition, while the centering of walls allowed for optimal city views.

Myrtle midcentury 1 txyym5

Image courtesy Giulietti / Schouten Architects.

Nims/ Bezaitis Residence, Paul McKean Architecture Surrounded by thick forest in the West Hills, this 1962 home was renovated to restore its existing natural material while simultaneously modernizing all the functional aspects of the home. The exterior was given a raw cedar siding complemented with fir paneling while the interior includes an upgraded kitchen, bathroom, and family room for a rustic, yet contemporary cabin feel.

Exterior 2 final dn5wpj

Image courtesy Paul McKean Architecture.

Show Comments