Portland-based Central City Concern believes housing must provide much more than shelter for low-income individuals undergoing substance abuse rehabilitation. It must help ease them back into society, safely and effectively. So to practice what it preaches, the group commissioned SERA Architects to design 8NW8th, a project that provides transitional housing and rehab assistance.

“[Central City] had a specific program,” says John Echlin, AIA, principal with SERA. It wanted a warm non-institutional building that had a strong residential feel to it, he says. To that end, the firm located private units in the wings of the L-shaped building and supplied each of them with a small refrigerator, sink, and hot plate. But they placed the shared kitchen, showers, and balconies at the corners overlooking the park. “They encourage the residents to use the communal spaces to foster interaction,” says Echlin.

Clad in brick for residential appeal and quality, the project consists of 180 units in two sizes—120 SRO units with support services and case management, and 60 larger studio apartments for long-term residents. Residents on the first two floors share space with support services and a conference room, television room, and library.


SERA Architects, Portland


Central City Concern, Portland

general contractor:

Walsh Construction, Portland

project size:

81,000 square feet

site size:

0.2 acre

number of units:


construction cost:

$160 per square foot