Portland Architecture

October 25th, 2006

The most recent edition of the Portland Tribune features a front page article on Portland’s best and worst buildings. The piece touches on something that has always bothered me about PDX, which is our tendency to play it safe when it comes to architecture. Portland had its chance at scoring Frank Gehry designed low income housing, but we totally blew it. Now, that’s not saying I’m a huge fan of Gehry’s work, but it would have been cool to have one of his buildings here since they are such icons. Portland can feel so second tier when places like Seattle managed to get Rem Koolhaas to do their central library. And while it’s not directly related to architecture, don’t get me started on the whole Maya Lin disaster in the Pearl. Yes, we do have that Michael Graves designed building from the ‘80s, but have you been inside? What a dump. You know, it’s really frustrating to see such uninteresting buildings going up along the South Waterfront when we have great firms like Skylab and Allied Works doing their best stuff in cities that appreciate their fresh approach. Anyway, below is the Portland Tribune’s lists.

The lookers and the losers (Portland Tribune)

Portland’s most beautiful buildings

1) Robert and Ann Sacks home, 2281 N.W. Glisan St.

Ned’s comments: Yeah, it’s a nice place, but I like the model home Skylab did in the West Hills better

2) Portland Art Museum, Hoffman Wing

Ned’s comments: Totally dig this Pietro Belluschi masterpiece.

3) U.S. Bancorp Tower

Ned’s comments: This building would look better in Miami. Circa 1985.

4) Belmont Lofts, 3442 S.E. Belmont St.

Ned’s comments: Great pick. Randy Rappaport is a total PIMP.

5) Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse

Ned’s comments: I don’t like the scale of this building. But it’s pretty cool I guess.

Portland’s ugliest buildings

1) Wells Fargo Center

Ned’s comments: I disagree. This is a cool building — even though it dominants the cityscape

2) Portland Building

Ned’s comments: Michael Graves is a hack.

3) 1000 Broadway

Ned’s comments: Affectionately known as the Ban Roll-On building. Stinky architecture.

4) Portland Marriott-Downtown Waterfront

Ned’s comments: Damn, this building hit every branch when it fell from the ugly tree. Even the architect said it blows.

5) Rose Garden Arena

Ned’s comments: Yes, this building does suck, but it’s not truly hideous. It sucks in a very underachiever kind of way…kind of like the Trail Blazers.

My best list (including PAM and The Belmont Lofts)

1) The Equitable Building (The Commonwealth Building)
Architect: Pietro Belluschi, 1948
A fine example of modernism, this building still looks fresh even today.

2) The Dekum Building
Architect: Henry Hobson Richardson, 1892
A great example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. This building use to be home to Weiden & Kennedy.

3) Wieden & Kennedy Building
Architect: Allied Works Architecture, 2000
A killer renovation by Brad Cloepfil has saved this great building.

4) US Custom House
Architect: James Knox Taylor/Edgar M. Lazarus, 1901
I always admired this building during daily commutes to work down Broadway in the past.

5) US National Bank Building
Architect: A.E. Doyle, 1916
Modeled after the classic Roman temple, this place is amazing both inside and out. Those carved bronze doors in front are the Shiite Moslem.

My worst list (in addition to those mentioned by the Tribune)

1) Slammer Tavern
Hey, this is a great bar, but horrible building. And why is it still standing? Seems like a strong wind would knock it down.

2) Lloyd Center Mall
God, what a depressing building. A potential stand-in for that mall in “Dawn of the Dead”.

3) Bank of America Financial Center
Hey morons, your neon lights on the roof looks like ass!

4) ODS Tower
WTF is that “sculpture” in front about?

5) The Pearl

Entry Filed under: Architecture

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brain  |  October 26th, 2006 at 6:15 am

    Ned dude. You MUST get Vol. 2 of Aluminum in Modern Architecture. It’s the best portfolio I’ve ever encountered of modern buildings. Go to Powell’s right away. Trust me on this one.

    Excellent post, BTW.


  • 2. Valarie  |  October 26th, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    I like your ‘best’ list much better than theirs, although I’m not sure where the Dekum building is. But - and this is one of the few things Brian and I argue about - but, I am no fan of PAM. It is a forbidding and uninviting place to me, and I think that’s a lethal impression for a public art museum. PAM is completely the opposite of his Equitable Building, which I love.

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