Montgomery Park

March 29th, 2009

montgomery_park_01.jpg

As some of you may or may not know, I have a new job with WebMD in Northwest Portland. One of the benefits of this new position is the upgrade to a far better office environment on the seventh floor of Montgomery Park, a building renovated by Bill Naito back in the ’80s. The structure is an old Montgomery Ward warehouse offering large, open floor plans and over 800,000 square feet of largely occupied office space. I believe the building is also the inspiration for one of The Simpson’s character names: C. Montgomery Burns. Finding historical information online about the building has been difficult, however, there is signage in front of the main entrance detailing some of the structure’s back story. Apparently, the building was constructed by Montgomery Ward and opened on January 1, 1921 as a shipping center to serve the growing west coast mail order market. The picture that accompanies the signage text shows train tracks entering the westside of the building. According the Oregon Historical Quarterly, two sets of railroad tracks allowed freight cars to be loaded and unloaded inside the building — a unique and useful feature in rainy Oregon. Montgomery Ward operated the building as a warehouse until 1976 and when Naito purchased the building in 1984, he changed the sign on the roof to read “Montgomery Park” instead of “Montgomery Ward”.

montgomery_park_02.jpg

The architecture firm SERA did the redesign, and while some of it has a definite ’80s feels like the Portland Building, it also offers a level of craftsmanship not seen in other projects from that era. One of the designs elements that bothers me on a daily basis are the doors on all the elevators. They have this v shaped brass pattern that is probably suppose to look classy, but it just looks tacky. A more simple, even industrial, design would have better complemented the building.

Entry Filed under: Architecture

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brain  |  March 30th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Poor Montgomery Ward…always playing second fiddle to Sears & Roebuck.

    How funny that you work in an old MW shipping facility and I work in an old Rich’s Department Store building. WTF?

  • 2. Eric  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Hey Ned, congrats on your new job! The Montgomery Bldg was my old haunt when I worked for Con-Way (which has moved down the road to the CNF Bldg on 21st) at the end of the 90s, when you could get an IT job if you merely had been in the same room as a computer. I still remember hearing the Toastmasters do their thing in the Central Court in the mornings while I rode up the elevator. There was also the occasional weekend vinyl record swap held in one of the large meeting rooms on the first floor.

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