If you've largely been holed up in your own neighborhood for the past six months—walking the same blocks, stocking up on groceries at the same store—it's easy to forget that other parts of the city you once roamed haven't necessarily been preserved in amber. Even though it felt like much of the world curled up and hibernated last March, Portland's skyline continued to change, even if you weren't there to see it.
That's why regular MAX riders who roll through the Stadium District may find the sudden appearance of the new nine-story Canvas office building a bit jarring. It is, of course, an awkward time to add more square footage for desk dwellers when work is likely to continue remotely for the foreseeable future. But there is hope for this gleaming glass tower: At the very top lies the latest outpost of Migration Brewing, which boasts a panoramic view unparalleled among the recent crop of rooftop bars.
And if it weren't for COVID-19, the average person might never have gotten to see it. Rooftop soirees were supposed to be a perk for office tenants, with beer drinking relegated to the ground level, where Migration had planned to open its fourth pub. The 10-year-old brewery suddenly flipped floors after co-founder McKean Banzer-Lausberg had a late-night conversation with the developer and property manager.
"The community needs more outdoor space right now," Travis Drilling, regional leasing manager for the Urban Renaissance Group, recalls telling him. "This will bring more attention to the building, so let's do this rooftop. Let's take this amenity space and open it to the public."
From the Providence Park MAX stop, you step off almost directly in front of the entrance to the Canvas lobby, where your porter awaits behind a Migration-branded stand. Employees downstairs communicate with those on the roof to find out when a table is ready before showing customers to an elevator.
Since the building is practically nestled in the West Hills, the deck offers a different perspective of the city than other bars and restaurants. From the collection of white oak tables and picnic benches constructed out of handsome gold iroko wood, the view northwest goes from the Montgomery Park building to the prominent arch of the Fremont Bridge in the northeast. To the east, downtown's mixture of high-rises and familiar skyscrapers resemble a jagged range. A trio of real mountains rises beyond that: St. Helens, Adams and Hood.
Sometimes, the patio can feel as windy as one of those exposed summits. Hold on to your plastic cups of beer tightly and wear pants—skirts and dresses get flipped easier than the glasses up here.
One more sight is worth noting: a massive screen inside Providence Park. While crowds aren't currently allowed inside the stadium for Timbers games, you may be able to peek in on the action from Migration's rooftop. The brewery already has some grand plans once games resume with fans in the stands.
"I might have to put a tifo up," says Migration co-owner Colin Rath, "because [the patio] is facing the opposing team seating."
Number of tables: 17
Space between tables: At least 6 feet
Additional safety measures: Menus accessible by QR code; an escort to the elevator and a table once on the roof; sanitation stations; floor markers to keep people 6 feet apart; guests are asked to bus their own tables.
Peak hours: 3-8 pm
GO: Migration Brewing Rooftop at Canvas, 817 SW 17th St., 971-291-0258, migrationbrewing.com. 1-10 pm Thursday-Sunday. 21+.