Adaptive Reuse Oregon History Oregon Real Estate Portland historic preservation

Portland’s Galleria mall gets a makeover

Portland’s famous mall got a makeover and just celebrated it with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

Olds, Wortman & King department store

Portland’s famous mall got a huge makeover and just celebrated it with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

No, not THAT Mall, the other one: The Galleria (now called Galleria). 

A quick bit of history. Built in 1910 and originally known as the Olds, Wortman & King department store, in the 1970s The Bill Naito Company repositioned the building in 1976 and renamed it the Galleria Mall. 

It thrived through the 80s and early 90s but with the sparkling new Pioneer Place it saw traffic plummet. In 2018, Unico Properties LLC purchased Galleria. The acquisition was part of a joint venture partnership with Partners Group, which invested in Galleria on behalf of its clients. In 2021, Partners Group and Unico invested approximately $20 million to fully renovate the historic landmark, delivering state-of-the-art amenities and creative office space to the heart of downtown. That same year, Unico secured a new, 42,000-square-foot, 15-year lease for SERA Architects, Inc., a multi-disciplinary architecture, interior, and urban design firm committed to sustainable placemaking, at Galleria.

“We preserved the past while revitalizing this historic landmark and we’re honored to reveal a beautiful new building that creates a hub, with a modern and exceptional amenity package and reflects the epitome of sustainability and decarbonization, in this prime area of downtown,” said Charlie Floberg, Unico Properties Director, Market Leader. 

Here are some impressive factoids for the building (and energy efficiency!) nerds:

  • Completely new mechanical systems (HVAC, electrical and plumbing, fire panel) to maximize energy efficiency – the remodel was done under the Path to Net Zero standards which is an extraordinary step, especially in a building that’s more than 100 years old.  It’s a standard above current energy code. This historic building is meeting Energy Trust of Oregon’s net-zero standards and is targeting LEED Gold certification, with the possibility of getting higher.
  • All interior finishes removed – raw shell for office users to maximize for their visioning of space.
  • Infilled the atrium to maximize floor area.
  • Full modernization of the elevators in 2023.
  • New lobby with an homage to the historical fabric of the building – respecting Galleria’s history and respecting its place on the National Register of Historic Places – reused the marble floor where possible.
  • Dedicated and secure bike storage; full fitness center and shower facilities; common conference room.
  • Modernization of the parking garage – new automated equipment.
  • High-efficiency lighting throughout.
  • Galleria is now fully electrified and is pursuing LEED Gold certification, with the possibility of getting higher. Galleria is not only an example of decarbonization, but it is also a building that prioritizes health and wellness for its inhabitants. Galleria is also targeting Fitwel certification, which is expected in 2023.

My last memory of the space was in 2008 when the ground floor atrium offered tables and chairs and was a great place to bring over food from the (now-gone) food carts. As I sat down to eat I grabbed my pho from the lid and the container dropped to the floor spilling hot pho all over the place. Nice one, dude. What’s your memory of the place?

Color pics: Photo credit: Molly J. Smith / BW pics: Oregon Historical Society.

6 replies on “Portland’s Galleria mall gets a makeover”

3 memories stand out re: Galleria
-Mom taking me to the basement of Olds & King when I was a kid.
-My best college friend coming out (I was first person he told) while having drinks at – was it Pier 101? late ‘70s.
-Early ‘80s: parallel parked a large econoline van while moving so I could run up & get a “really good cup” of coffee at Coffee Ritz. Early ‘80s. My family made fun of me for years for that one!

I have a very vivid memory of visiting Santa Claus around 1958 when I was about 6 years old. He sat in a “holiday wonderland” in a corner window of the store. People lined up on the sidewalk to go through an entrance that was created through the window. It was magical to me. I went by the corner a few weeks after Christmas and the the magic had had been replaced by a clothing display.

To me this building was all about its atrium, and it was a terrible shame that Target filled it in. Hard to truly appreciate any renovation that doesn’t bring it back, and yet I know that’s unrealistic.

Barney Bagel and Susie Creamcheese. Chrystalship Records. The ice cream shop where you could get a scoop of lotus cream, which was lemon ice cream with almonds. All the import stores. Lord, I miss the Galleria of the 70s.

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