I wanted to mention a thought-provoking exhibit on view for another couple weeks at the AIA about imagining the Portland area as a Hurricane Katrina victim. “Waterlines” was created and developed by PSU architecture department head Rudy Barton, a New Orleans native, and his son Greg, an architecture student at Tulane University in New Orleans. It helps us imagine a flood in the Portland-Metro region stretching from Sherwood to Camas, or every house in Beaverton replaced with a 28-foot FEMA trailer. Or imagine this: if 1 out of 2 Portlanders were now living elsewhere.
Barton and Barton have included numerous photos in the exhibit, and of course some of them are incredibly sobering. But somehow I feel most affected by simple map showing the flooding in New Orleans spread across our area. I think it's because it's a trigger for contemplating what it might be like if disaster on the level of what New Orleans and the Gulf region happened here. Not only would countless people be killed, hurt or their home and livelihoods taken away, but the physical fabric of the city would be damaged beyond repair. So many of our old trees would be gone, so many buildings.
This may sound unrelated, but as this spirit of contemplating what we have comes up, I'm reminded of my feelings yesterday walking by the Rosefriend Apartments, the beautiful historic building being destroyed by the First Christian Church to make way for the Ladd Tower project - and all in the name of parking. I respect the fact that we've gone through the process, and the owners/developers have every legal right to do what they're doing - namely obliterating terrific Portland architecture. And I respect the efforts of preservationists and co-developer John Carroll to preserve the adjacent Ladd Carriage House, the nice little anachronism sitting next to the very practical and viable Rosefriend. But standing across the street from this ill-fated beauty, I felt like I was going to wretch yesterday. There's even a little used surface parking lot across the street owned by the University Club that's begging for the underground parking the church needs. And still we bring in the *&%^$ wrecking ball? If there are any elected officials reading this (commissioner Leonard?), I implore you to consider some of the behind-the-scenes strong-arming Mayor Katz employed to help make the case for the Ladd Carriage house's rescue. For the rest of you, consider emailing the church here to make your thoughts known.
I bet a lot of architecture lovers in New Orleans wish they had just such a chance to prevent the loss of their historic architecture.