Photos by Lincoln Barbour
Ground Kontrol Arcade
We were flattered and excited to be called in to remodel Ground Kontrol, Portland’s favorite classic arcade. We were asked to update the main space, add a lounge to serve the new full bar, add a small kitchen, and remodel the very dated bathrooms. We had a tight timeframe and a limited budget. . .but the end result was a real transformation of this beloved Portland hang-out.
Our concept for the space was to blur reality and turn the space into something a little less concrete, almost like stepping into a wireframe drawing of a space in a video game. Once we started doing image research we realized that the Tron aesthetic was exactly that, and that helped shape our design as well. We started by painting the space a dark flat grey, to blur details and turn walls into shadows, then we defined the lines of the architecture with fiber optic cables that punch out the frame of the space.
In the lounge we continued with our concept of blurring reality, the table tops are made of a translucent resin material that glows from the LED lights below. Faces are transformed as they are lit from below. Drinks turn into strange glowing liquids.
Stackable, moveable cubes in various shades of blue provide comfortable seating but also allow the space to be configured differently for different events.
In the restrooms we took our cue from the most classic of all classic arcade games; the men’s restroom floor is a to-the-pixel accurate rendition of pacman, the women’s is ms. pacman. The sink counters in both restrooms are made of the same translucent resin as the lounge tables, but the LED lights below shift from green, to turquoise, to blue (See video on YouTube). These may be the coolest restrooms in town!
The new floors throughout are made of rubber recycled from tires. The pendant lights, are modeled upon the Tron bit and were made by Clay Cowgill, one of the Ground Kontrol owners. You can watch Clay and his dad building one of the fixtures here.
The project manager for Ground Kontrol was JHID designer Emily Knudsen Leland.