otak architects, lake oswego, ore.

Orderly and urbane, Center Townhomes was designed to fill a hole in the local market for young professionals and empty-nesters. For Otak Architects, it was a welcome chance to design a series of contemporary buildings in a city that caters to architecture of other eras. Architect Dennis Haden created a clear rhythm with three materials: white and black stucco, wood windows, and steel railings and decks. "I was trying to skin the space as straightforward and simply as possible," he says. "If you squint, the volumes are just big rectangles."

Each set of buildings wraps around a central mews, which doubles as an auto court and common plaza. "It's a good solution in the jumble of an urban setting," the judges said. "You have some sense of public and private space."

The units feature three bedrooms, two baths, a single-car garage, and a ground-floor terrace. Stained-concrete entries, open stairways, and sustainably harvested birch flooring contribute to the urban flavor. The judges noted the buildings' "amazing clarity," and that "the detailing on the interior is consistent with the exterior."

project architect: Dennis Haden, Otak Architects
land planner: Jerry Offer, Otak, Inc., Lake Oswego
developer: Ralph Austin, Innovative Housing, Portland
general contractor: Larry Didway, Seabold Construction, Portland
landscape architect: Kerry Lankford, Otak, Inc.
project size: 1,524 square feet per unit
site size: 0.75 acre
construction cost: $85 per square foot
sales price: $199,000 to $239,000 per unit
units in project: 26
photographer: Richard H. Strode