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Duo makes oddities palatable

Designing a full-service restaurant in a space that once housed a two-story brewery is the latest challenge for Sid Scott and Kelly Edwards, principals in Scott/Edwards Architecture LLP. The 5-year-old Portland firm has gained a reputation for turning odd spaces in old buildings into see-and-be-seen eateries.

The restaurant, still in the early-design stage, will occupy the space where Blitz-Weinhard once brewed beer, in one corner of what is now the Brewery Blocks.

Scott/Edwards is designing it for Portland-based Pacific Coast Restaurants, a steady client of Edwards', and later Scott's, since the mid-'80s.

In fact, Edwards and Scott have designed nearly all of Pacific Coast's restaurants, including the always-jammed Portland City Grill on the 30th floor of the Unico/U.S. Bancorp Tower downtown Ñ formerly the fussy, infrequently visited Atwater's. Another success has been popular-from-the-start Manzana Rotisserie Grill in Northwest Portland's trendy Pearl District. That space had been an antiques store.

The firm's portfolio also includes Pacific Coast's Portland Steak and Chophouse in the Embassy Suites Hotel building downtown and almost all of the Stanford's and Newport Bay restaurants.

'It's a big challenge putting (restaurants) into existing buildings,' said Scott, who left Portland's Architects Van Lom & Co. in 1997 to start his own firm. 'You have to find a graceful space to put things like kitchens and supplies and (stove) hoods and all those amenities.'

With the brewery site, the challenge is to keep the space's 'superscale' character while creating a crowd-pleasing eatery, said Edwards, who left Van Lom in 1998 to join Scott.

Their firm also is designing a Newport Bay for the west end of the Holladay Market complex in Northeast Portland's Lloyd District. Its 'urban flavor' will fit the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, Scott and Edwards said.

Though Pacific Coast is a major client, Scott and Edwards say their firm's diversified client base is the key to its steady growth.

About half of Scott/Edwards clients come from the private sector; the other half includes 'community-based' groups, mostly nonprofits. These projects include several clinics for Cornelius-based Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center; Head Start facilities for migrant families in Cornelius and Woodburn; and farmworker housing in Hermiston.

'Our philosophy is, you can't design a project until you get to know the people involved,' Scott said. 'To design something purely as a design isn't valuable. It's how you work with the clients.'

Ñ Mary Bellotti