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Portland skyscraper
The plans for a development project in Portland include skyscrapers connected by a glass-enclosed bridge. (William + Kaven rendering)

A proposed redevelopment project in Portland would reshape that city’s skyline, with plans that include, among other things, towering skyscrapers connected by a glass-enclosed botanical bridge that would be 680 feet in the air and span a distance of 236 feet.

Portland-based William Kaven Architecture and Kaven + Co. unveiled the plans Monday for the Pearl District site of a soon-to-be-demolished United States Postal Service headquarters.

The project, which is in the conceptual design phase, would provide approximately 5 million square feet of new development, according to a news release. Multiple high-rise buildings would offer a mix of uses including retail, office, hospitality, and residential.

Of the two tallest central towers, one would exceed 970 vertical feet, which would eclipse the tower height of the West Coast’s current height leader, the Wilshire Grand hotel in Los Angeles. A 295-foot-tall spire attached to that building in September 2016 brought its overall height to 1,100 feet. The Salesforce Tower under construction in San Francisco is projected to have a roof height of 970 feet, and overall height of 1,070 feet.

The Portland towers would be interlinked by an enclosed bridge which would cross high over the North Park Blocks, a tree-lined green belt in the city.

Daniel Kaven, a William / Kaven partner and Kaven + Co. founder, called the proposed development a “dynamic, modern neighborhood” in an op-ed published in the Daily Journal of Commerce.

“The towers are large enough to serve as a headquarters for a Fortune 100 company, such as Amazon, and would anchor the entire district both architecturally and financially,” Kaven said. “The towers and interlinking skybridge would be an iconic addition to Portland’s skyline and a destination for locals and tourists alike. The elevated garden would be a tropical respite from the gray of the city at any time of the year and provide breathtaking views of Mt. Hood and the entire city skyline.”

Kaven also wrote that Portland is devoid of any “iconic buildings” and said that “great buildings drive tourism and generate money.” He cited “destination monuments” such as Seattle’s Space Needle and the Freedom Tower and Empire State Building in New York City, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The proposal also calls for integration of a “marquee transportation hub for high-speed rail and underground public transit innovations, such as Hyperloop, with the transportation facilities in the vicinity such as Amtrak’s Union Station, Greyhound Station and the local streetcar and bus.

“This is our opportunity to lead the effort to build a bullet train network that links Portland to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver from the heart of an already-existing downtown transportation hub,” Kaven said. “There is no better place, nor a better time, than the opportunity that is upon us, with this huge site next to our historic train station.”

The Willamette Week newspaper called the vision “not likely” to happen on Monday, thanks to the fact that the proposed height is more than double what Portland’s City Council is considering for the site. The newspaper called the Post Office site one of the most desired pieces of real estate in Portland.

Kaven + Co. and partners intend to submit a formal proposal to the City of Portland’s development arm, Prosper Portland, in the first quarter of 2018.

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