The tallest building in Eugene, Ya-Po-Ah Terrace, stands 18 stories high, serving the area’s retired community with 222 individual units. Initially built in 1968, designers re-envisioned this strong modernist architecture by changing the façade patterns and modernizing the building to last another 50 years.
Standing tall amongst the rich green backdrop of Skinner Butte, Ya-Po-Ah Terrace’s new façade pays tribute to this hillside and the indigenous cultures in Eugene.
“Ya-Po-Ah” means a very high place in the language of the Kalapuya Indians who inhabited the Willamette Valley before the arrival of the Euro-American settlers. Ya-Po-Ah was the name used by the tribe for what is now called Skinner Butte.
The existing building façade emphasized the height of the building with tall vertical mullions and protruding mechanical units. The new façade introduces horizontal bands and alternating vertical fins that balance and enliven the otherwise vertical massing.
The new color palette plays off the forested hillside. Variations of blue-greens and gray are woven across the façade in a basket weave pattern, paying tribute to the indigenous history of the Butte. The woven exterior elegantly balances horizontal and vertical with color and relief, creating a dynamic and harmonious pattern across this new façade.
The primary structure was left in place to begin renovation, and the aluminum window walls were removed. In their place, MWA developed a thermally broken metal stud wall system with aluminum rain screen cladding, increasing the overall thermal comfort and performance for the residents and reducing external train noise adjacent to the site.
Air conditioning was added throughout the building, providing significant benefits to residents and eliminating the need for individualized AC units previously seen from the façade.
MWA focused on supporting the function of each space to promote an active lifestyle for older adults. After moving back into her apartment post-renovation, one resident said, “the overall design is way better for seniors.”
Expansive interior improvements included upgrades to all 222 units and community areas.
During design, the team met with residents, presented ideas, and received feedback to inform the decisions. While MWA didn’t modify the existing program extensively, designers pulled the spaces together with clear intent, connecting spaces through consistent color and material palettes. After the renovation, a resident spoke to this effort, stating that “all the common areas are more cheerful.”