Hub 9 at Orenco Station in Hillsboro, OR

The Hub 9 apartments are located at the center of a new pedestrian-friendly transit plaza with bus and commuter train stations and bicycle storage surrounded by several other new apartment buildings. Hub 9 attracts young tenants, mostly Intel employees and students from nearby Portland State University. Farmers’ markets and other community events take place directly in front of the building, which has become a landmark. With a prominent steel arch, a unique gable roof and a Back to the Future-style clock, the brick and steel base of the building exudes a historic feel while a more contemporary structure, clad in Nichiha ArchitecturalBlock™ Panels, rises above, providing modern appeal.

With 124 apartments, the 168,204-square-foot mixed-use project was the first in Oregon to be built using a double concrete podium topped by four floors of Type V wood-frame construction. The base of the building includes parking, retail and management offices; the four floors above consist of apartments, community rooms and other amenities. Contractors installed approximately 18,000 square feet of Nichiha ArchitecturalBlock™ in Tuscan color to the exterior of the four residential floors.

When asked what other products were considered, Baxter said he doubts that Hillsboro City Planners would have approved the other commonly-used medium-density fiber cement panel product. “The other panels look more ‘suburban;’ they use a metal reveal system that encapsulates every panel,” he said. “Unfortunately, when the sun hits it just right, you can tell if it’s not really square or if the panel doesn’t fit flush across the face. But because the Nichiha system is fully integrated with beveled edges, you don’t have that problem, especially when the product is applied in a stack bond pattern like this. We also liked that it laps into itself, creating clean, contemporary lines. Plus, material dimensionality is consistent and keeps its form.”

Both moisture management and dimensional stability were key considerations. The design team took great care to detail the building joints and transitions from the Nichiha panels to the other siding materials used, which included brick, steel, metal and precast concrete. “All of these products have different dimensions, so flashing everything together was complicated; there was a lot of attention to detail,” said Baxter.

He quickly added that they knew they could count on the Nichiha panels to stand up over time. “There’s enough ‘give’ between the panels to allow for expansion and contraction, so they hold their dimensional shape. That was important because Hub 9 has large fields of uninterrupted panels, and we wanted really nice, clean lines.”

Installation went smoothly. While this was the first time Leeb Architects had designed with Nichiha, both Holland Construction and Exteriors Design, the installer, had experience with the product, having recently installed it on Tessera, a nearby four-story apartment project.

With Hub 9, Baxter said they wanted to honor the history of the area by creating a building with permanence. “We achieved that by using more traditional materials at the base,” he said. “But we also created a contemporary building at the same time, rising up to provide apartments and amenity spaces above. We decided to use Nichiha there because it didn’t call more attention to itself than it needed to. Nichiha helped us tie everything together, using a clean palette that allowed us to blend with the other materials.”


Leeb Architects, LLC


Holland Partner Group


Holland Construction


Hillsboro, OR


Nichiha ArchitecturalBlock


The solution required less than a dozen emails between the architect, the structural engineer, the contractor, and Nichiha’s engineers, and it was all resolved within a week. The revised system easily met code requirements.


Leeb Architects worked closely with Nichiha’s technical team to develop a customized engineering solution. The modified clip attachment system reduced the distance that the panels projected off the building while still maintaining the clear space required for good moisture management.


The design team originally designed the system using Nichiha’s 10mm clip, which provides an adequate rainscreen that would protect Hub 9 from drenching Pacific Northwest rain and winds. However, at six stories, the height of the building had additional wind loading requirements, which did not meet the standard clip performance ratings.
“This was our first time using Nichiha panels, but the detailing wasn’t overly complicated and Nichiha’s representative came to explain how it works. We easily decided it was the right product to use for Hub 9.” Charlie Baxter - Leeb Architects LLC

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