Mercy Corps’ new global headquarters in Portland, Ore. reflects the charitable organization’s mission to create more secure, productive, and just communities in a unique and tangible way. GBS was honored to partner on this LEED Platinum-certified project that embodies the interconnected core concepts of sustainability the environmental integrity, social equity and economic stability.
The headquarters are a physical reflection of the organization in multiple ways. Set in Old Town, Mercy Corps’ decision to consolidate several offices and locate in this part of the city catalyzes redevelopment momentum and revitalizes this re-emerging neighborhood. Directly adjacent to downtown, the urban locale leverages existing infrastructure, offers employees an array of alternative transportation options and concentrates development to protect agricultural and natural habitats in the outlying areas while infusing the adjacent district with long-term investment and ownership.
THA Architecture and their consultant team designed a thoughtful response to programming needs through appropriately sizing the facility for its employees and reclaiming a historic structure that comprises half of the new facility. As an organization that frequently provides services in regions where there is significant resource depletion, the building’s advanced energy and water-saving measures will prudently conserve resources for decades to come. The measures – along with durable construction materials – demonstrate a commitment to financial responsibility.
Social equity is a core competency of Mercy Corps, as the organization seeks to understand how people live, relate to and are affected by their bioclimatic region. Inspiring local participation, the teams bring tools, techniques, technology and processes to partner with on-the-ground stakeholders and help them sustain themselves. The global headquarters’ embodies these principles with passive and integrated strategies and technology that addresses and interacts with the Willamette Valley’s bioclimatic conditions to lower energy and water use. Drawing upon local and regional materials helps support community manufacturers and services and lighten climate impacts from transportation of goods. The influx of employees brings economic activity to this micro-region of the city. Within the building, daylight, views, green measures and spaces for collaboration spur human interaction and staff wellbeing with a healthy, inspiring and productive work environment.
The Action Center opens its doors to our community and invites us all to see the imperatives we face across the globe, to experience the work of Mercy Corps first hand and to engage in solutions at whatever level we can.
Mercy Corps describes the people who work for them as “activists, optimists, innovators and proud partners of the people we serve.” These qualities mirror the professionals at GBS. Clearly, it’s a large part of why this project is so important to us. We have a deep affinity for the people, mission and work of Mercy Corps as it dovetails with our values. Working with building owners across the nation and in places like China and Peru, we bring insights, tools and resources to our partners. Our hallmark is a process of collective participation to motivate stakeholders toward more environmental, economic and socially sustainable outcomes. Within the built environment, we strive to assist owners, facility managers, asset managers, tenants and occupants make choices that enhance their lives and the lives of those around them to promote integrated thriving communities. We are proud that the new Mercy Corps world headquarters achieves these objectives.
By Ralph DiNola, GBS Principal, Associate AIA, LEED Faculty