Many see Portland as a progressive city. No event venues are likely more in line with that world view than the two run by Ecotrust Events. Ecotrust, the events branch’s overarching nonprofit, leads a staggering number of social equity, economic opportunity, and environmental programs, from supporting Native American land rights to building intergenerational wealth for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) individuals. What does this have to do with hosting a corporate meeting? Everything. “The revenue we bring in from renting the venue goes directly toward our programs,” says Shauna Noah, the senior sales manager at Ecotrust. “Ecotrust has such a heart and a mission behind it that I always tell clients: You are partying with a purpose when you rent [a meeting space] from Ecotrust.”
Ecotrust’s two Portland event venues are the Natural Capital Center, which offers 11,000 square feet of indoor and rooftop event space in the Pearl District on Portland’s West Side, and the Redd on Salmon Street, which features 33,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor event space on the industrial East Side. Both are gorgeous, historic buildings with modern conveniences and a focus on sustainable architecture.
The Natural Capital Center
The Natural Capital Center was the first historic renovation in the U.S. to be LEED Gold certified, a globally acknowledged recognition of sustainability achievement and leadership. With the thought Ecotrust gives to composting, recycling, and rooftop solar panels, the 1890s warehouse is now a stunning event venue covering a city block with three distinct event spaces.
The Irving Street Studio has 7,000 square feet of space, enough for 350 people sitting or 500 standing. “For weddings, our Irving Street Studio is a favorite,” says Noah. The attached catering kitchen makes meals convenient. It is also popular with planners scheduling daytime meetings; they use the integrated audiovisual equipment and a private, attached boardroom.
The smaller Billy Frank Jr. Room accommodates 150 seated or 200 people standing in 1,800 square feet of event space. Renters can choose banquet tables or rolling workshop tables, and the room has an attached staging kitchen.
Most glorious of all—if the weather cooperates—is the 2,200-square-foot rooftop terrace. Guests can take advantage of the wet bar or gather around a wood-burning fireplace while enjoying views of the surrounding Pearl District. This neighborhood is known for its art studios, shopping scene, and renovated historic loft buildings—and on a clear day, rooftop revelers will see snowcapped Mount Hood poking up into the sky to the east.
On the other side of the Willamette River, the Redd features a small boardroom and a big hall with a community kitchen. Open the doors and the party flows into the parking lot, which is also available for rent.
When you step into the Redd’s Main Hall, you will notice two things: gorgeous hemlock cladding and a huge, teal-colored piece of machinery that practically reaches the tall ceiling. It’s a steel press used to make ship and car parts, a remnant of the East Side’s industrial past. “We make it a three-sided bar,” Noah explains. “That roots it as an art piece that is useful in terms of the flow of the event.”
The state-of-the-art kitchen has built-in cameras for cooking demonstrations. “It adds that element of showcasing and storytelling from the chef,” says Noah. Given the kitchen, the big, open indoor space, and the rentable parking lot, the Redd is a natural site for food festivals. Events like the Bloody Mary Festival and a cheese-centric fest called The Wedge have found a home at the Redd.
The Redd is just over a mile away from the Oregon Convention Center, so it’s popular for corporate parties. “Many clients arrange buses or shuttles from the convention center,” Noah says, “or they use rideshare services.”
The Internal Ethos
Ecotrust works with organizations that resonate with its mission: those seeking venues that “have their internal ethos of what they want in their event,” says Noah. “And when they find out about ours, it’s exciting to them, and it’s a big draw.” For Ecotrust as a nonprofit, meetings and events are part of an important human service. “We just love bringing communities together,” notes Noah. “That’s a core mission of Ecotrust. And that is what events do.”