Cathedral Village Affordable Apartments

    The Willamette River and the hills of Forest Park are the backdrops for Cathedral Village, a 110-unit affordable apartment building in Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood. Cathedral Village is a catalyst project transitioning the area from an industrial riverfront to a vibrant residential neighborhood. The project supports families, with half of the units being two- and three-bedroom apartments and a variety of community spaces designed to promote connections.



    The growing community of St. Johns is working to create a thriving riverfront and increase affordable housing opportunities. The previously industrial site commands views of the historic St. John’s Bridge and is a block from Cathedral Park, home of the annual Jazz festival. The client’s driving vision was to ensure that Cathedral Village reflects the musical culture of the community.

    The new building creates a strong street edge and cradles a southwest-facing courtyard, providing bridge and river views for residents. A large community room opens to the courtyard plaza. Resident services and management offices anchor the ground floor street corner, with an adjacent music room and teen room activating the street, celebrated with a tall mural.


    Cathedral Village’s entry plaza leads directly through the building with views to the hills beyond. This transparent gap in the massing orients to nature and views as you move through all levels of the building lobbies.


    Inspired by the railroad tracks that run along the western property line and the Pacific Northwest landscape, Cathedral Village’s plan reflects the movement of a turning train car as it cants open to the hills at the riverfront, bringing daylight into the corridor.

    Along the façade, stacking horizontal train cars inspired the alternating 2-story bays that dance around the corner of the building along the major streetscapes.

    The acoustic challenges of the nearby railroad tracks were resolved with a brick façade. The brick was installed economically in offset vertical panels, rhythmically animating the façade with a nod to the neighborhood’s musical history. The rust-colored brick continuing to reflect the saturated colors of PNW train cars.

    The mix of brick and metal composite siding reflects the property’s industrial past as the area transitions to a residential neighborhood.


    With art and music as a cornerstone of St. Johns’ culture, the client used this as the avenue in which to engage with the community. Partnering with the local non-profit VIBE of Portland, Cathedral Village incorporates a music studio in the community space where an instructor will help kids record music.

    A flexible community room flanking the courtyard fosters community gatherings and provides a venue for resident music performances.


    Cathedral Village’s Apartments are built for families. Resident Services offices partner with the community spaces on the ground floor to support families.

    50% of the apartments are two- and three-bedroom family units with a large kitchen and ample storage space.


    Awarded with the PGE Renewable Development Fund, Cathedral Village received a full solar array and is certified as Earth Advantage Platinum.