William Neburka describes the founding of W.PA/Works Partnership Architecture, the firm he and Carrie Strickland started five years ago, as “kind of a shotgun marriage. Carrie and I didn’t really know each other when we started the office.” But a developer with a big project in his back pocket had been encouraging Strickland to start her own office so she could take it on, and when she expressed reluctance to go it alone, he introduced her to Neburka. The two aspiring firm owners got together over drinks to discuss the possibility of working together. Strickland adds that their first meeting was “totally like a first date,” with the two of them agreeing on two things, at least: They both wanted to start firms, and the firms they started would most assuredly be design-oriented. “The project was too enticing to pass up,” Neburka continues, and with a large project in hand, they set up shop.
To date the firm’s clientele have been developers in the commercial office and multi- and single-family housing markets. Taking advantage of the fact that Portland has intense competition for office tenants, meaning that developers must use design as a way to attract them, the duo have turned out bSIDE6 (opposite), their first ground-up building, along with the 172,000-square-foot Olympic Mills Commerce Center and several housing projects. To attract housing developers, they have invented manufacturing systems that allow some elements of these buildings to be economically prefabricated.
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