Semi-Cylindrical Steel Buildings Set the Stage for Skylab’s Office

05.08.24 | By
Semi-Cylindrical Steel Buildings Set the Stage for Skylab’s Office

After outgrowing their previous space in an old building in downtown Portland, Oregon, Skylab Architecture sought to find to a new home that could address their concerns: How can our studio evolve from a dedicated workspace to a playground for the art and design community? Where can we find a space to integrate gardens, an event venue, and a fabrication shop, as well as our studio? Three years later, they unexpectedly arrived at an answer in the form of two semi-cylindrical steel warehouse buildings originally constructed in the 1940s situated on a triangular corner lot in a northwest industrial neighborhood. Skylab renovated the 10,000-square-foot structure and reworked the space into a dark and moody, yet inspiring, and undeniably cool modern office.

Modern architectural office with employees working, featuring large models and plants, enclosed by glass partitions under an arched ceiling.

Modern office interior featuring a large wooden cubicle with glass walls, a conference area inside, and architectural models on display

The existing 40-foot-long skylight was extended to 60 feet, bringing natural light into the new rows of workstations. Nearby, a wooden cube encased by glass walls on two sides offers privacy while maintaining visibility. A custom table displays models of the practice’s work.

Modern office meeting room enclosed in a glass and wooden frame, featuring a large table, chairs, and unique overhead lighting, surrounded by an open workspace

Modern office print station with a white multifunction printer, a large format canon printer, under soft lighting and black storage cabinets, surrounded by wooden walls

Modern office conference room with glass walls, wooden panels, and a long table with chairs, overlooking an outdoor view

An enclosed walkway links the two buildings and connections to the surrounding environment are supported by floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

A person working late at night in a modern office with glass walls and wooden panels, surrounded by indoor plants

A person working late at night in a modern office with large glass windows, illuminated interior, and visible green plants. a parked car is in the foreground

The raw but refined interior aesthetic, reminiscent of Nordic wooden cabins, is established through materiality. The textural concrete floors, aluminum windows, and exposed steel roof are balanced by the warm wood cabinetry, the lush greenery found both indoors and out, and the cross-laminated timber (CLT) of the conference rooms. The dark furniture and fixtures offer continuity with the moody environment.

Modern office kitchen with large round table, oversized pendant light, and blurred figure walking by. a woman stands at the counter in the background

A modern dining area with a sleek black table and chairs, oversized pendant light, and an outdoor view through glass doors

Four 10’ x 10’ window walls separate the expansive kitchen and dining room from the outdoors, but can be fully opened for special events to foster community togetherness and peer collaboration.

Modern office kitchen with wooden cabinets, neatly arranged shelves, and hanging plants above a black counter, in a clean and organized design

office area with black cabinets, wooden bookshelves, a countertop with books, and plants in a well-lit space

View through an open door of an office kitchen with employees chatting at the counter

People interacting at a modern office kitchen with wooden paneling and ambient lighting at dusk

Modern outdoor patio with gray furniture and lush green plants, featuring a wooden ceiling and black walls

Various outdoor spaces, including a covered patio, lounge areas, an event area, a cultivation garden, an outdoor cooking zone, and a fire pit provide additional opportunities for connection. With that, Skylab’s goal of designing an innovative and inspiring space for both its employees and Portland’s creative community becomes fully realized.

Two grey chairs sit in front of a vibrant floral wallpaper, complemented by a modern lamp and guitar amplifier in a moody, stylish setting

A man sitting at a wooden desk in a modern home office, with a laptop, books, and personal items. the room has dark walls, wooden ceilings, and a fireplace

Modern bathroom with black fixtures, including a toilet and sink, lit by a backlit mirror on a textured dark wall

View from a dimly lit bike storage room looking out to a brightly lit stadium full of spectators; bikes hang on the right

aerial view of a triangular lot of a modern office

To learn more about their practice, visit

Photography by Eric Fortier.

As the Senior Contributing Editor, Vy Yang is obsessed with discovering ways to live well + with intention through design. She's probably sharing what she finds over on Instagram stories. You can also find her at