Portland Art Museum

Portland, OR
Re-discovering a Temple

Knot Studio’s visual patterning unified two historic buildings in a single mission to showcase fine art in a light-filled, open environment.

The oldest art museum in the Northwest, the Portland Art Museum, marked its centennial in 1992—the same year it announced the purchase of the Masonic Temple for an expansion. The expansion meant another 50,000 square feet of exhibition space. The Masonic Temple was a similarly historic building with vastly different design cues. The logical move was right next door when the Portland Art Museum realized it had outgrown its own classically designed building.

For Knot Studio, the challenge was a placemaking and wayfinding program that complemented the art museum’s existing style while reflecting the subtle design differences between the two structures. Knot Studio’s solution was elegant and understated and created a visual pattern honoring the integration of multiple architectural styles. Bronze dimensional letters help unify the museum campus, complemented by bead-blasted stainless steel panels which convey identity and provide wayfinding for visitors. Knot’s design also reflected the museum’s addition architect’s vision of re-creating the Masonic Temple from a heavy dark space to a more light-filled open environment.

50,000 sq ft
Portland Art Museum
Ann Beha Architects + SERA Architects