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This article is just one in a series of articles called, “Architects As Developers.” We are showcasing 12 Architects that have taken the leap to stop building for others and start developing for themselves.

Real estate is an integral piece of everyone’s life. From the homes we go to every night to the shops we visit while we’re on vacation. And as such, those who develop these spaces have an incredible impact on our lives and what types of lives we live. Some developers build for the money, some for the fame, some do it just to do it, but regardless of the reason, each building has a history and a creator.

These are the stories of those individuals that have spent their careers conceptually thinking, designing, and planning all aspects of the building from window placements and viewpoints to the bolts and beams we never see.

We hope you enjoy these spotlights and that it brings inspiration and encouragement to venture on your own.

Kevin Cavenaugh

Guerrilla Development

Portland, Oregon USA



After completing architecture school at U.C. Berkeley and a 2-year stint building schools and homes for the Peace Corps in Gabon, Africa, Kevin moved to Portland, Oregon in 1993. Kevin designs and develops small commercial and residential buildings.  He uses inexpensive materials and always attains high energy efficiency in his work.

His Burnside Rocket building has earned a LEED Platinum rating.From hip restaurants to creative offices to wonderful residential renters, Kevin has been fortunate to turn his good buildings into great buildings by virtue of the tenants.  And because he builds with the intention of keeping each project, he also learns directly how his designs age as he maintains them year by year.Kevin was a Loeb Fellow in 2007-2008 at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

His current projects include micro restaurants in The Ocean, experimental lenticular art along 100% of the façade of The Zipper, social capital-turned-architecture in an adaptive re-use livery stable 4-plex (Dr. Jim’s Still Really Nice), and corridor-free creative office spaces in the Fair-Haired Dumbbell.

Kevin’s current obsession (and possible upcoming project) is to create a better version of subsidy-less affordable housing.


Guerrilla Development is a real estate company focused on creating inventive and experimental projects that use both hemispheres of the brain.  We make buildings that prove that good design and good financial returns are not mutually exclusive.  We serve all of our partners with equal care, from investors and bankers to tenants and neighbors to contractors and staff.  Our ideas are coded in walls and windows and concrete and timber, yet we measure success by the social capital our developments produce as well as by the asset value they generate.

Guerrilla Development is a 21st Century company operating within a mid-century model. Our work and products are forward-thinking, yet the inner workings of our company are rooted in a time where 5 o’clock means it’s time to go home, and where all employees from top to bottom enjoy similar benefits and compensation.





“Fine architecture at 35 MPH.”

The Zipper is what happens when we learn lessons from the Ocean and we’re eager to perfect and refine the concept.  4 micro-restaurants, a punk rock nail salon, a coffee shop, and a full bar feed into a common indoor seating area. The façade is activated by a lenticular art installation, grabbing attention from the 28,000 cars that roll up and down Sandy Boulevard every day.

12,600 SF site and 8,000 SF building 100% occupancy

The Ocean | COMPLETED 2012

Hungry?  Let’s hope the tides roll you to The Ocean in NE Portland.  In 2012, Guerrilla Development transformed a defunct car dealership into a sea of colorful storefronts that greet micro-restaurant goers. Grab a beer and enjoy the ample outdoor seating – a social hot spot when the sun decides to shine (and, because we’re Portlanders, even when it doesn’t…)


15,000 SF Site and 7,250 SF building.

100% occupancy4