DeSoto Building

Portland, Oregon

Originally built in 1915 - 1916, the DeSoto building was originally the Lombard Automotive buildings. Home to a number of dealerships throughout the 1950s, the building became a short-lived DeSoto dealership that closed in the early 1960s. Its uses varied over the decades but by the time LRS viewed the building in 2005, it was vacant and dilapidated.

A New Purpose

A longtime client was interested in repurposing the building and breathing new life into the changing community. As a gateway to the Pearl District, a creative arts and shopping district in Northwest Portland, the client believed the DeSoto Building would function well as an arts-based building. Art galleries and a museum were planned for the ground levels, while LRS offices would occupy the upper stories.

Good Bones

With a plan in place, the project team was tasked with evaluating the building. It was in a state of disrepair, but its structure was intact. The building had many street-facing windows, and there were also architectural vestiges of the era found in the detailed cornices and other exterior materials. The LRS team was determined to renovate and modernize the building while expressing its history by keeping the original components that gave the building its character.


LRS designed improvements to the core and shell of the building, strengthening it seismically to comply with current code standards. They also added entry canopies and restored the exterior brickwork. One of the major steps the team took was to connect the DeSoto building to the adjoining building, providing more office space.

Inside, designers wanted to keep as much as the original industrial feel as possible. Original wood beams were reclaimed for interior wall finish. Historic mechanical equipment was incorporated into the décor, including a large pulley wheel from the original car lift.


While newly constructed buildings are energy efficient and use resilient materials, there’s nothing greener than saving an old building. With LEED tenant improvement certification in mind, LRS used products made within a 500-mile radius, and reused onsite materials where possible. The bike storage room features charred timber, and all of the wood was re-milled.