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this is one of the most gorgeous new buildings in portland. the selection of material and details are spot on. haters need to congratulate.


I like it too.

Frank Dufay

the Clinton is clad in core-ten steel, which is designed to rust over time

Installed rusted, the core-ten is already staining the concrete below with nasty looking orange lines where the rust is dripping off. Not such a classy look for us walking by as compared to the "gorgeous walnut trim" inside.

On the corner where the Clinton sits at 26th and Division, the surrounding buildings seem incongruent: a dingy Plaid Pantry store, and an abandoned small warehouse.

Gotta wonder why, at that intersection, the Clinton didn't replace "the dingy Plaid Pantry" or the "abandoned small warehouse" instead of the historic "Clay Rabbit" property? Imagine if the Clinton could've overlooked that last bit of open green space there on Division? (Hint: it wasn't about aesthetics but about buying land on the cheap.)

I know, I know...just neighborhood bitterness talking. But the little T bakery is a pleasant addition.


i wonder if the plaid pantry or warehouse buildings were ever for sale?

as for me, i've always enjoyed the rust/concrete visual. like an urban estuary?



Brian, this blog entry should be titled "Prism on 26th" not Division. The building intentionally turns a cold steel shoulder to Division Street. Had the developer not come along when he did, he would have had to orient the Building toward Division under the Division Green Street Main Street Plan - a plan that was well known and awaiting final approval when said developer went forward with his project. As one of the first major buildings to be constructed along Division after the new Green Street /Main Street plan was created, the developer could have made a shining example of new construction oriented toward Division - instead Division Street received what Coos Bay got several years ago - a hunk of rusty metal in the middle of what was once a wonderful view. Lucky for Coos Bay they are cutting up and finally removing their hunk o' rusty steel.

I will congratulate the developer on one thing however, he managed to create something that is bringing neighborhoods across the city together in hopes of enacting stronger preservation regulations and design guidelines. More than one group uses this building as a prime example of how the wonderful vintage neighborhoods of Portland are being systematically punched in the gut by those claiming to be our saviors through adding density - no matter the cost to the very things that make Portland such a wonderful place to live. There is no doubt that adding density helps curtail sprawl but when added using tunnel vision, the cumulative effects are enormous and destructive to not only the built environment but our landscapes as well.


val - maybe you could post a link to the similar coos bay building? to compare this building to a hunk of rusty metal (that possibly should be cut up and removed) makes you sound pretty ridiculous.

Brian Libby

Val, I love your principled stands for historic preservation that you regularly express on this site. Keep it up! But I've got to substantially disagree with you on this one.

While it's true that the Clinton is oriented toward 26th, it's not as if one stands on Division and doesn't get a sense of the floor-to-ceiling glass that wraps both Division and Clinton. Nor would someone on Division be unaware of the very open, glassy facade of the building on 26th.

I live just a few blocks from Southeast Division myself. To say that this beautiful modern building is a problem for the future development of the street--when there is a hideous Plaid Pantry across the street, countless decaying old cheap apartment buidings lining the street as well, and a host of light-industrial or other commercial spaces with no face to the street at all--it absolutely ludicrous!

Frank Dufay in a previous post also mentioned that the Clinton displaced a historic building instead of occupying the Plaid Pantry site. Maybe Plaid Pantry didn't want to sell. And besides, the south side of the block where the Clinton wound up is much better for the development because it becomes part of the Clinton neighborhood's fabric. And for god's sake: the historic house was moved. I wish I could say the same for the fate of other historic buildings like the Rosefriend Apartments downtown.

If you don't like the aesthetics of intentionally rusty core-ten steel, that's fine. But don't treat this as a cheap building material. It's expensive and very popular with architects and builders today. I know that in itself doesn't justify core-ten, but if you're trying to imply that this is a cheap material, and therefore indicative of a lack of design or construction integrity, well: that's just not the case.

And you also mentioned that the Clinton blocks what was before a nice view. As you of course know, however, this is what happens when a city densifies. This is a good thing.

If people in Portland are using the Clinton Condos as an example of bad high density housing that's destructive to the urban fabric, I truly feel sorry for their ignorance. Why don't they go take a look at the Graham Street Lofts on MLK Boulevard, a fluorescent orange colored, cloyingly neo-traditional monstrosity. The Clinton is going to be written up in major design magazines as an example of superlative architecture. You're barking up the wrong tree!

Brian Libby

Anon, Val is referring to the New Carissa tanker ship that's been aground on a Coos Bay beach for several years, which they're now dismantling. It was of course a joke, although this type of industrial shipbuilding has long been an inspiration for modern architecture and its materials. The New Carissa makes an embarrassing comparison to the Clinton Condos, but the other 99.9 percent of industrial ships out there are a good material comparison. Is it possible some readers out there just can't accept the idea of deliberately rusty material on a building? What'll these crazy kids do next, wear their T-shirts inside out?


The site is flat along 26th and makes it easier for the retail component. And I'm all for the rust on the sidewalks - check out Rick Joy's work sometime. It leaves a trace that tells you something about the materiality and processes of nature. What's the harm in that? Kudos to Holst!

And Brian - let's leave some room for fluorescent orange buildings, monstrosity or not...that will be some other blog writer's Checkerboard Building in about 40 years.

Frank Dufay

The Clinton is going to be written up in major design magazines as an example of superlative architecture. You're barking up the wrong tree!

Woof! I pee on trees, not concrete. The orange stains scare me. Not natural...

Peeing on "major design magazines?" Woof, woof, woof!

--Homz (east side dog)

SE Resident

Protect historic architecture, but don't let it dictate the style of modern buildings. This country needs to move forward. No more McCain/Palin/Bush/DeMuro/Val


First - SE Resident, I'm sorry but when did this become a politcal discussion? I personally find it offensive to have my name associated with McCain/Palin/Bush, so let's not go there, ok?

So, on to the real discussion. Brian I would hardly call the checkerboard of windows on the Division side of the building a continuation of the floor to ceiling glass on the 26th side.

Regarding the impact on future development: I don't think I was making a prediction so much as I was expressing dissapointment that the project was designed the way it was with FULL Knowledge of the Division Green Street/Main Street Plan design guidelines. The developer effectively ignored the hard work and time of a lot of people. This action is reflective of the attitiude both the developer and the architect expressed to neighbors from the beginning - The sort of I am all knowing and you are beneath our level of intelligence attitude was as offensive as the above politcial commentary.

I don't think I was treating Core-ten as "Cheap" but I do think it is ugly, especially on such a large area as the Division side of the building.

The loss of view that I was referring to was the loss of the ENTIRE Clay Rabbit property. I'm not just talikng about the house but also the outbuilding and several wonderful trees. It used to be you could stand at 26th and Division and view an almost park-like setting (the Clay Rabbit House and property). Now you are left with no landscape whatsoever. Again I would argue that DENSITY IS GOOD - it just should be accomplished with more sensitivity - something that the developer in this case certainly lacked. And to naysayers who will claim I am promoting "historicist" architecture you are wrong too. It is certianly possible to build decent - size appropriate mixed-use infill that blends well with its surroundings without being historicist - it just takes additional thought - outside of the steel, glass, and concrete box.

Thanks Brian for pointing out other unsightly infill. I'll make note of the property you mentioned. I think the Clinton is being used by many as an example -not so much because people don't like its design but because of the huge impact the building had on the neighborhood. When you compare the before and after photos of that corner at 26th and Division, there is no mistaking the impact and loss. I will email you a before photo that you can post if you want, so people can decide for themselves.

Randy Rapaport

Given the bleak economic reality of real estate housing projects going forward it is likely that there will not be another
quality project that disrespects your division vision.

Instead, your street will attract developments of wooden buildings that look bad from the beginning, but after 10 years will begin to deteriorate, just like those apartments scattered around the eastside and up and down division street.

The developers will make them cheaply, but they will "fit in" so the neighborhood association and the fearful will be sure to be happy.

Brian Libby

I have posted at Val's request a picture of the house that used to occupy the Clinton site. I totally agree it was a wonderful house, which is why it's great the building was moved instead of destroyed.


Thanks for the bleak prediction. I think developers/architects can build/design cheaply or expensively and still obtain a poor result. It is not the size of the wallet that determines quality of design but rather the pusuit of creativity - creativity that sets aside arrogance and pretension.


Thanks for posting the picture of the house but remember there was so much more than that structure on the property. Yes, the house was moved (and sits now completely out of context - but that's another issue). This was the loss of an entire "package" of local character - a vintage house, a vintage outbuilding, wonderful old trees - a corner walk with the original homeowner's name etched in the concrete, etc... all of this is gone or scattered to the winds and effectively neutered of significance.


Since you're discussing buildings on Division, and other infill - anyone know what the story is with the orange/red building at 44th and Division? They've been pulling the cladding off the building to do some work. I thought I remembered Holst's sign on the fence when it went up but don't see it on their website.


now i'm confused. this house looks like every other house on a typical residential portland street. being that this is a signaled corner on a fairly busy transportation corridor - am i the only person who thinks the pictured house is probably better suited for a less busy/commercial street?

the property was for sale. the house was moved to another location and not demolished. the new building doesn't conform to a division street plan that was public knowledge, but hadn't been approved/implemented at the time of the project. several mature trees were removed (never great to lose trees, but doesn't explain the level of uproar). why the tremendous animosity? where is all of this hate coming from?

Val finds the architect/developer to be pretentious? i'd like to meet an architect/developer who isn't. not creative enough? this is a matter of opinion. her wishes for the project weren't met and therefore the building is categorized as unsightly infill? likely.


This is one of the better infill projects done in PDX. The problem is what it replaced. THis is an ongoing issue. Quality newer buildings are replacing quality older buildings leaving a bad vibe that really shouldn't exist (remember the rosefriend property had a more suitable spot for the new apartment right across the street). What we should try to figure out is how to make it much easier to replace a Plaid pantry and parking lot then a beautiful old house or building (asphalt tax?). If this project had replaced any other property at that intersection, we'd all be bragging about having a great developer building quality housing. Instead we are stuck blasting something that really shouldn't be blasted. Its a super nice building, stuck in the wrong spot do to economics.


"It's expensive and very popular with architects and builders today."

So what? You can say that about a lot of styles (Portland Building, anyone?)

It is already hideously ugly, and is not going to age well.


I like this project. It elevates a common, mundane material as a steel plate to precious metal status on a prominent street. There is much inspiration to draw from the concepts that this building embodies.

This building challenges to look at it for artistic merit. When I pass this building I am reminded on a small scale of a geode with it's course and crusty exterior juxtaposed with its crystalline interior and that makes me feel good. It makes me think about holding opposite or contradictory ideas in balance. A larger scale analogy would be the beauty one sees at a pristine snowfield surrounded by dark and rough boulders. That rusting steel is an everchanging natural material. There is more rich color variation in one square foot of that material than in entire building facades of flat painted Hardi-board which many less committed developers use. That rich surface or varied color makes me picture an aerial view of some rugged canyon landscape. And if you see a rust stain on the concrete, it's just a reminder to look up at the world above you. While detractors could argue that using brick may have been more palatable to everyone, just observe that rich rusty red catching the diffuse light on a gray Portland day before complaining to the Design Review committee.

And nobody so far has mentioned the pleasing proportions of the rationally organized, stained wood, east facade. A lot of care and expense has been taken in making sure this building is visually pleasing and varied from all angles. This aesthetic obviously appeals to a certain number of Portland residents who chose to live there so to say it doesn't belong today on Division street really isn't true.

Buildings are serious and risky financial endeavors that don't leave much room for innovation or artistic exploration. It's amazing that this building made it through the process intact. Congratulations to the Holst/Rappaport team.


I haven't yet been out to Division to see this new building, but I've been following the controversy surrounding its design approval and construction for some time. From the pictures alone, I can see it's not quite the cheap crap a lot of developers race to build in the frenzied profiteering efforts invited by densification.

Sounds like there's some validity to the objections people are raising about the building being oriented to 26th rather than. I'll take a look myself before deciding on that.

I like Core-ten. Sculptors...Serra's one...use it for free standing metal sculpture. The big blocky sculpture up in the S Aud blocks near the towers may be of Core-ten...I've never found it to be looking so good. I'm not sure I can think of an example here in Portland where, exposed to the weather over a number of years, it's beautiful, but it seems like a good idea to try it this way on housing to see what happens. Leaves stain sidewalks, so I'm not sure the stains are such a big deal unless the residue starts to kill something we want to keep living.

I'd seen the Clay Rabbit house in its original location before it was messed with. Sorry Val, appreciate the effort, but you're picture does not do it justice. The dark shadow in the foreground completely obscures the expansive front garden surrounding the house. It was a beautiful residence, redolent of old Portland neighborhood, and probably shouldn't have been sacrificed so soon, at least not for this building.

It's unfortunate but not at all surprising that market forces direct a lot of construction decision in Portland, as they have here on 26th and Division, rather than good sense, keen aesthetics, and good planning. The South Park Blocks; the Ladd Tower and Moyer's tower now being built on PB4 are other examples of this happening.

Frank Dufay

the property was for sale. the house was moved to another location and not demolished... why the tremendous animosity? where is all of this hate coming from?

The property's zoning was changed from residential to commercial explicitly and specifically to allow the Clay Rabbit to move there. The Clay Rabbit owners never did what was required to earn that commercial zoning, and for all the years that business was there, it was assessed as a residence. (That's a Multnomah County Assessment & Taxation record available to the public.)

The sale happened without any public process. Mr Rappaport came to the neighborhood association to tell us what he was doing, not asking how he could be a good neighbor. To squeeze every available centimeter of developable space out of the property, the building doesn't even provide bicycle parking, let alone parking for guests, shoppers, or even some residents. That's become a responsibility of the neighborhood.

No one hates Rappaport or Hulst. It's just sad to lose green space --and an old farmhouse-- which was an anomoly in this very urban neighborhood. "Put this elsewhere in our neighborhood" we asked, but that didn't pencil out, we were told.

We move on, but when we destroy history, when we destroy historic context, it leaves a bad taste. Not hatred, but a bad taste.

If anyone --including Mr Rappaport-- wants to show me an architects rendering of what would be the orange rust stains left behind...I'll be happy to accept this was part of the grand design. In the meantime, my sense of aesthetics doesn't think rust on concrete is all that attractive. And, meanwhile, the bicyclists that come to get their slabs of bread at little T lock their bikes around trees, not available bike stands.


wait, the sale of private property happened without any public process!? hold the phone!

deep breath...deep breath.

over twenty new residents now live in the neighborhood, adding vitality and density to a neighborhood and city that wants it (for the most part).

history was destroyed and portland was never the same after the farmhouses that occupied downtown blocks were demolished for the buildings that now stand. or when the trees were cut down for the farmhouses.

the world changes, life goes on. and i'm sorry but the clay rabbit house and the corner of 26th and division was not something to behold, regardless of what you think about holst's architecture. i'll take quality density over irrational nostalgia every day.

and pdot will install bike racks soon enough, i'm sure, so you can stop with the inane argument that your red herring bike parking is somehow the end all be all mark of a good project.

and by the way, my house doesn't have a garage, does that mean you hate my house too?


i wasn't aware that the sale of private property was required to have a public process.


"The property's zoning was changed from residential to commercial explicitly and specifically to allow the Clay Rabbit to move there. The Clay Rabbit owners never did what was required to earn that commercial zoning, and for all the years that business was there, it was assessed as a residence. (That's a Multnomah County Assessment & Taxation record available to the public.)"

i would think that most property along this portion of division should be zoned to allow for commercial uses? isn't division kind of a commercial corridor? shouldn't we be glad to activate this street with activity, shops, bars, coffee houses, eateries, and the like?


First, nit-picking: that's COR-TEN steel, a trademarked brand of "weathering" (aka rusting) steel. There is no "core" involved.

As far as the rust stains... haven't noticed any on the sidewalk so far, but the steel is staining the concrete of the building structure, and some of the stucco. I'll be curious to see it after a full winter's rains. Stains on the stucco certainly don't look intentional to me. A little sloppy, a detail not very well thought through, but not the end of the world (not mine anyway; if I had paid top dollar for a condo I might feel differently).

The prismatic green glass? A little ridiculous. Would have been more interesting if the interior spaces actually made use of those angled panels, but they're just stuck onto the front of the building. Why bother?

I didn't know the neighborhood (I live here now) when the Clay Rabbit building was there, so I can't speak for what was lost. But I'm not convinced that we've gained much. The new building, I think, is--like much of Holst's work--very flavor-of-the-moment. Oooh, it's getting written up in major design magazines, it must be good! It's not a bad building, but superlative it ain't.

Yet another failed opportunity to do density in a way that's simultaneously contemporary, interesting, and respectful to its context. That IS possible, isn't it?


Sorry--I should have said appropriate to its context, not respectful. I'm definitely not saying we can only do shingle siding (with maybe some fake brick thrown in?) in "traditional" neighborhoods.

Brian Libby

In retrospect that "design magazines" comment I made in an earlier comment was silly and I wish I'd worded it differently. In the context of the argument being made, I was trying to say it was a building with a real investment made in its materials and design, especially in comparison to some of the shabby old apartment buildings along division.

But obviously no building gets branded as somehow special without holding up to public debate. And being in a magazine doesn't christen a building or give it reason to be considered special. I mean, of course.

It was somewhat of a rocky road to completion for the Clinton on the neighborhood-relationship side, but hopefully that will change over time. As someone who lives within easy walking distance, I'm very happy to have it.

Also, I've heard that flavor-of-the-moment comment made before. But if it works, it works, at least from a visual, compositional standpoint. That's a very subjective thing, of course. I certainly don't mean to treat the Clinton as a masterpiece by any means. But I think it's natural to feel defensive as the disagreements mount. It'd be unfortunate, though, for feelings about this building to become polarized into a love-it-or-hate-it kind of scenario. And of course, the building needs a lot more time than it's so far had to integrate with its environment.


"And to naysayers who will claim I am promoting "historicist" architecture you are wrong too. It is certainly possible to build decent - size appropriate mixed-use infill that blends well with its surroundings without being historicist - it just takes additional thought - outside of the steel, glass, and concrete box."

Being an architecture student myself, I am curious as to residents' complaints regarding architecture not "blending well."

I believe most architects believe that neighbors are toeing the "NIMBY" line so often seen in places like San Fran, where they want Victorian detailing ticky-tacked onto the side of a concrete box. But this doesn't seem to be your complaint here...

would you say that treatment of the landscape is important? What if there was a small plaza on the corner, with trees, a bench, and maybe a fountain? I would agree that many projects just completely avoid the treatment of the streetscape/landscape in these infill projects.

If you want a really bad example of infill, however, see those shitty buildings along 39th & Belmont and a couple blocks to the south. They are awful renovations - you'll know what I mean.

Frank Dufay

wait, the sale of private property happened without any public process!? hold the phone!

I'll repeat for the reading impaired:

The property was zoned and assessed and taxed for nearly a hundred years as single family residential. It was STILL being assessed and taxed as single family residential when Rappaport bought it.

It was a public process that changed the zoning to commercial to "save" the Clay Rabbit as the historical site it was, with the full support of the neighborhood. To have a developer come in and then use that zone change intended to save this historic homestead site to destroy this historic homestead site is not a little ironic, and maybe deserving of further public process.

Was it "irrational nostalgia" that put this site on the historic register? (And that the developer could simply call null and void.) And not one of many sites of this type that once characterized the neighborhood...the last one, gone forever.

Does that matter? Does history matter? Sure, "life goes on" and who needs trees and green space anyway. What we value as a society changes from year to year and from person to person, so this is pretty subjective stuff. New development trumps history all the time, and mostly we're fine with that.

But as Randy Rappaport points out above "fitting in" --i.e. respecting the fabric of a neighborhood-- is for losers, so we'd best all get out of the way for whatever the next developer deems to put in our neighborhood, whether its the crap that Weston threw up where he bought old homes on the cheap and threw up ghastly apartments (as Rappaport acknowledges) or the superior architecture that we rubes just don't seem to get.

PDOT will put in bike racks? Thats actually a developer responsibility, in City Code, that you can buy your way out of, which this developer did claiming "no room, no room."

We move on. But I defy anyone to tell me how the rust stains at the garage entrance to this gated community enhance the neighborhood. It looks, well, cheap.


I live in the neighborhood, and like this building from a design perspective. From a construction perspective, they have a few issues with this building. At some point the home owners will have to address the rust etching issue on the glass, as well as on the vinyl window frames. The lower facade will either be painted or replaced since graffiti clean up on natural wood is impossible without a major amount of work. I'm going to assume that the lath work will need to be reworked as well because of inadequate fastening. Other than that, it's not a bad building for what it is.


Zilfondel, Good questions. Phony details tacked onto new buildings to appear historic are aweful and I do believe that landscaping is important - even in an urban environment. It would have been nice if some of the old landscape at the Clay Rabbit property could have been re-worked into the design.

Also, That poor apartment building at 39th and Belmont has been ridiculously bastardized so many times over the years it is unrecognizable and fairly heinous.

Regarding the Clay Rabbit and the old zoning issue Frank is right. Documents regarding the zone change in 1995 or 96 clearly state that they wanted to change the zoning to Commercial mixed-use because this would be the best way to ensure the preservation of the historic property. So the zone change went through (even though the owners of the Clay Rabbit never completed some details they were supposed to) and a decade later the same City that argued for a zone change in 1995 (in order to save the property) now argued the zoning was intended to allow a four story, built out to the extreme edges, mixed-use building. When you combine these actions by the city with the attitude presented toward neighbors by the developer of the Clinton and his architect - I hope folks can see why there is still a bad taste in many people's mouths.

It would be nice if, as someone stated earlier, we could figure out how to target specific properties - like the Plaid Pantry at 26th & Division for re-development, rather than simply letting anything goes. I realize in a capitalist society that may be difficult at best, but I certainly think in an urban environment it is important that all stakeholders are at the table, involved, and heard in the "densification" question.


i think that in areas like this, where residents rightly feel a sense of ownership of their neighborhood (a good thing!), it will be difficult or impossible to satisfy everyone all of the time.

sure, it would be great if the city facilitated a process with incentives to redevelop targeted/blight properties.

i'm glad brian is covering this project on his blog. i think the building is quite beautiful and a unique visual amongst a more traditional style of architecture in the area. i appreciate both the design, craftmanship, and selection of materials (ESPECIALLY the steel). but most importantly, the clinton highlights the fact that we are all seeking different things from infill projects and new density in our close-in portland neighborhoods. in terms of location, size, city zoning laws, aesthetic preference, etc... i agree to disagree!


On the topic of targeting blighted properties for redevelopment... I guess this is an indication that we've come full circle in the redevelopment / historic preservation argument. I understand that this is not what the commenter intended, but the redevelopment of "blighted" neighborhoods (Boston's West End perhaps most famously; in Portland, the Auditorium District) is exactly what led to the development of the historic preservation movement in the first place. The problem lies in who gets to define "blight". I'm betting the people who run that Plaid Pantry and the little bento-lunch place next to it don't consider their businesses blights and eyesores. And the folks who live in that crappy apartment building across Division from the Clinton condos call it home.

I'll come down on the side of preferring more stringent historic preservation restrictions.


Some final developer thoughts on the Clinton Condo mixed-use housing project:

1. Bike racks have been installed on the side walks by the city. We paid into a fund that supports this city-wide program.

2. Lots of bike parking for the residents
in the large bike room that we built (I think over 2 times what the code required) in the garage.

3. The retail tenants are looking into constructing a city approved bike corral or what i call a "bike pen" on the street in front of the building. I am supportive of this proposal, but am trying to get the city to improve design of these.

4. We created 25 parking space on site for 27 residences....a far higher unit to parking ratio than most projects get.

5. The local tenants such as the bakery and yoga studio have already become meaningful community amenities. I am delighted that I was able to keep the promises that I made to the neighborhood regarding my intention for local tenants. The fact that we were able to attract a great baker/cafe and a beloved yoga space goes beyond what I thought was possible.

6. The project is becoming what I had hoped it would be: An urban planning model of what is possible regarding infill development that raises the benchmark.

It is not perfect, but I did the best I could to create the most useful and beautiful mixed-use housing development for our community. I have lived in southeast Portland for 10 of my 15 years here and this is my home.

I will probably not be developing any more housing projects in Portland. So the haters and the fearful can take comfort in this.

Randy Rapaport


Portland density upzoning plans are developed with copious public process. Division is an example. People like to live near those streets because they can walk to the businesses on those streets. As a result, property values have risen substantially there. I can tell you that in the purely residential neighborhoods of SW, property value increases have stagnated. So if you live on, or a block off, a street like Division, Mississippi, Alberta, Interstate expect 4-5 story half to quarter block-filling density, maybe taller. If you can't accept that, move.

Development is supremely risky. Once the land is purchased, the clock is ticking, construction costs are rising and the sales and rental market is changing. Design by committee is never successful, or timely.

I like the building and like the developer's selection of tenants. I especially think steel cladding, with a drained airspace is a much more NW friendly skin than stucco, so susceptible to water damage. I think rust stains are fine!

Most of the developers I know are very connected to the community and much more sensitive to design than Seattle or much of California.

Certainly people can like or dislike a particular design! But increasing density is here to stay and it's clear where it's likely, Clay Rabbit or no Clay Rabbit.

Eric Cantona

those of us familiar with this blog, and others like it, have heard similar discussions before. modern, dense, new buildings vs. existing neighborhoods. i would propose to offer a different frame to view it through that val touched on earlier:

this is a capitalistic society.

bottom line is that this is PRIVATE property, and it has been presumably developed within all applicable codes and laws. in Portland we (the people) have a comparatively strong public voice when it comes to private development. i know because i work in the development world. from my experience this project has done a great deal to meet many of the neighborhood's needs and desires. certainly not all, you simply could never please everyone, but the alternatives on this site to that of Randy and Holst could have been much, much worse.

there is so much crap that passes for architecture in the city, some of it very near this building, that it's a wonder that this project generates so much heat. if Randy is getting out of residential development because of this very issue then i have but thing to say to the collective whiners: thanks for nothing assholes. you're shooting yourselves, and the rest of us in the process, in the foot. we're going to end up with developers that REALLY don't care what you think, and will throw up the most god-awful garbage all in the name of profit. they'll also follow all (or at least most) of the rules. but if you think that Randy doesn't care what you think, just wait.

this is just the beginning of the densification of this city. first come the pioneers like Randy. they pave the way for the big boys to move in, by proving that it's possible to make money on small lot development. you want to guess how much Trammel Crow or others like them will pay attention to the neighborhood groups?

best of luck on that one.


amen, Eric Cantona. amen.


"So the haters and the fearful can take comfort in this."

I would like to think that in our society it is ok to disagree about things - from building design or developmenet to historic preservation to our politcal beliefs. It is ok to disagree about such things but it is also ok to have meaningful discourse about our differerences of opinion. Calling people "haters" as has been mentioned by at least two people in the course of the discussion on the Clinton, does nothing but fuel further animosity. I can't speak for others but it's not hate that drives my opposition to the loss of our building and landscape heritage. It is a personal belief that in our consumer society we should do more to preserve our past, not just for the sake of itself but as a means of preserving our future. What better way to preserve the earth, than finding ways to re-use, adapt, renovate,etc... the existing built environment. Not only does that save our "heritage" it saves countless tons of natural resources and energy. This is my belief and I don't consider it hatred.

Also, yes we do live in a capitalist society - but does that mean alone justify the end result? It's fairly thin soup if the only basis for support of new development of any kind is that we have a capitalist right as an American property owner.

Frank Dufay

this is just the beginning of the densification of this city.

Sorry, Eric, but this area --and Division Stret-- used to be filled with farmhouses. They have all fallen to the developers wrecking ball...this site was simply the last of them. Densification of our neighborhood has been going on for a long, long time, especially with the building of those nasty looking Weston apartment complexes that replaced old homes in our neighborhood.

This is just the next wave of this movie. (With the Flaming Lips providing the sound track.)

Some things are just history moving on, some things are history being destroyed. There was an old Italian deli on Powell, by 39th, it was razed to put in a strip mall. Whatever you think of our first urban renewal district --and opinions vary-- a substantial working class neighborhood was destroyed in the process in what we now call the South Auditorium area.

No one hates you, Randy. Get over it, and stop playing the victim. My son in law, an artist who lives in Brooklyn with my daughter, really likes your building. I'm sure many do. As they'll love the four story condo building proposed for across the street from your Clinton, though I guess it will block some views. At any rate, the little T is a nice little bakery...


val & frank,

the fact that you are "haters" doesn't really have all that much to do with the conventional meaning of "hate." dude, it's 2008, do we have to explain everything to you? see urban dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hater. thanks for the effort anyhow.

in closing, i would like to pay tribute to the great philosopher Ice-T, who once said: "don't hate the player, hate the game."



Respect your history, but could we please move into the modern world?


conventional, literal thought must transform
and evolve in the face of the challenges before us.

the clinton project was intended to be and is a visual symbol of hope and possibility on the urban landscape. creating beautiful form was our first intention.

the dudes in tv on the radio band were interviewed in the ny times last week and the following quote sums up their feelings about their work as artists.

"I was trying consciously to
create a utopian world inside
a pop song. I don't think that
three minutes of music on a commercial
record is going to bring paradise, but
I feel like there is power in music
and power in our words and power in
what we put out into the world."


"...bottom line is that this is PRIVATE property,..." Eric Cantona

It is that, but private property located within a citizen community and neighborhood, that has developed character defining values and aesthetics over a period of many generations. Building and design codes aren't arbitrary obstacles put in place simply to make a developers life miserable. They're means by which to preserve the livability of a neighborhood and retain some sense of humanity in a business atmosphere that seems to make dismissing livability concerns on the part of residents, an expedient thing to do.

The notion of 'PRIVATE property'....it's MINE, MINE, MINE, can and does often take on a certain madness. Developers will see a lot better sense of co-operation from neighborhoods if; they do a better job of attempting to see their private property from the perspective in which it exists; if they work to serve the community's needs rather than subvert them.

Eric Cantona

a bit of socalism is great. i'm all for it. yet i have two thoughts relating to ws's (and others) comments:

1. if you own your home, what color is it? does everyone on the block think that it's the RIGHT color for the neighborhood? is your garden well-tended and neat? or is it a slightly wild organic garden? do you view every choice you make about your home through every neighbor's eyes? do they hold veto power over your plans? who makes the final call on issues like these? i'm guessing it's the homeOWNER.

2. you bring up codes. these are the laws with which the developer must adhere to. presumably they reflect our shared desires and values (and that includes more than just the neighborhood). if they don't, they should be changed. what are YOU doing to make a difference, other than complaining about what someone else has done on their property? and what makes you think that YOU reflect ALL of your neighbors desires and values? what makes you so sure this project does not serve the community's collective needs? what about the city's collective needs?

personally, i think this project does a great job of reflecting what i want to see for this city. but that's just me. i'd welcome a counter argument if it were stated with a little more maturity than frank dufay's usual brand of whine. BTW: i've seen no instance of mr. rappaport claiming that everyone hates him. he doesn't appear, based on his comments on this blog anyway, to need to "get over" anything. by my reading of this whole situation he's been rather articulate and helpful. mr. dufay on the other hand...

now that's not to say that there haven't been any constructive comments from the "haters". ws's comment above is an example of a well structured and presented argument. i happen to disagree, but that's what forums like this are for. my basic point for ws, and others, is this: where do you stop? how much say does the community get to have in the development of private property? and who is it that will define the community's vision?

Brian Libby

Mr. Cantona, it's an honor to have a former Manchester United star commenting on our humble little blog.


Props to King Eric for his wisdom.

Eric Cantona

merci. i score zee goals. it eez what i do.

go united.


Planned communities exist, having covenants that dictate exactly what Eric refers to; paint color, roof type, use of front yard and so forth. I don't think they're universally popular or common, but they represent one means people use to ensure the integrity they recognize and associate with with their neighborhood. 'Planned Community' if I understand it correctly is more a concept than it is a neighborhood, designed to maintain property values and keep out unwanted types of residents. It's dictates are too rigid for the lifestyle many people want to enjoy.

What I think both have in common that's important to the discussion here, is that each: planned community and neighborhood, are occupied by residents that become neighbors. They live with each other in some sense, 365 days of the year. Yes, in a neighborhood, the neighbors may have quibbles about the addition Joe wants to build, or the color Tom's wife Janice wants to paint their house, but in a good neighborhood, the neighbors eventually work to come to a resolution that respects the interests of each other.

Neighbors confronted by ambitious developers are an entirely different thing. The developer is there to make money and scoot. Whatever the developer builds, the neighbors got to live with it for a very long while, move, or die. That doesn't seem very neighborly to me. Often it seems, developers will be 'neighborly', as it expedites their project's timeline, but if that doesn't work out, they often retrench and fight to use 'their property' as they choose to, despite the fact they never lived there or were never a part of the neighborhood.

When can we see this done a little differently? Something like, 'Hey we're developers and we hope to make some money adding something worthy to your community...tell us what we can build you that will allow us to do that.'. Then do it, and don't whittle away on your promise to do so once you agree to do it.

Frank Dufay seems smart and responsible to me. If he would just drop the petty sniping, his arguments would probably carry a lot more weight. We all live and learn though...over the years, I think I have.

I can't follow sports for beans, but since others here seem to be aware you're a soccer star, good luck with that! Dumb as I am about sports, soccer makes more sense to me than american football.


I am one of 27 families that has choosen to live at the Clinton Condominiums. I am a long time resident of inner SE Portland. I sold my residence to a couple eager to bring their energy and ideas too our city.

This is my personal residence that is under debate. Thank you for the welcome to the neighborhood.

I have choosen to stay in the inner SE because of the augmented quality life that projects such as The Clinton are creating. I hope that the Nay Sayers can find a way to put as much energy into welcoming the new residents to their neighborhood as they have put into their criticisms of our new home.

Rex Chapman

This building is a Monstrosity and an Atrocity.

He is my input: First of all, both sides of the building look like rusted crap. After seeing the building a few times, I said when are they gonna finish the sides. It was then that I was informed that they were finished. Orange Crap Drips everywhere off the sides of the building when it rains. Nice touch! Also, the building is too tall and to wide for the lot, and this build towers over everything in it's path. Look at the poor homeowners on each side (one house was sold 50K below market value in a Fire Sale once the building started going up. Also it's called Clinton Condos, but it is NOT on Clinton. Why didn't Randy called it the Divison Condos? Also because of it's height, it also blocks out a lot of the nice natural light that would pour into The Clinton neighborhood at certain times of the day. If you stand at 26th and Clinton and look towards this Monolith, it blocks the sun, the light and the lines on the neighborhood. There will also be parking issues once this building opens, because there are not enough parking spots built into the building. The Clay Rabbit used to be the gateway to the neighborhood, not its just a hunk of rusty blah


I have lived in the Richmond neighborhood for 35 yrs now. That wonderful house at 26th and Division was a lovely landmark that helped give our neighborhood its character and was just plain nice to drive by and enjoy. There are plenty of eyesore properties on Division that no one would have objected to redeveloping, it is astonishing that any architect with genuine respect for context, aesthetics (insert appropriate architectural lingo) would consider this corroding,industrial looking hulk an improvement.

Frank Dufay

it is astonishing that any architect with genuine respect for context, aesthetics (insert appropriate architectural lingo) would consider this corroding,industrial looking hulk an improvement.

It's important to remember that the developer --not necessarily the architect-- argued that there WAS no "context," that the neighborhood was crap and there was no responsibility to fit in whatsoever. That WAS the aesthetic...something radically different.

As a fan of the Georges Pompideau Center in Paris, with its inside out architecture, and radical break with its surroundings, I'm sympathetic with that radical rupture --as they say-- of the status quo. The porblem is that of all the places on Division to "replace"...this historic site made a poor choice, as it was driven by financial --not aesthetic-- considerations.

The owners who sold the property were tax cheats who sought a zone change to "protect" the Clay Rabbit, then used that zone change to sell it to a developer as "commercial" property even as they'd been paying taxes on it as a single family residence. The neighborhood, Multnomah County Assessment & Taxation, and City Council were all conned.

At any rate...it's there, this monolith in our neighborhood. We're learning to live with it, and certainly welcome the new residents with open arms. But rust is rust, it's corrosion, and it's not pretty...it looks cheap, and rust stains on concrete are nothing like the shadows of leaves imprinted on pavement, washed away with winter's rains.


4 stories does not a monolith make.

the division corridor (like many other streets in portland) is ripe for redevelopment and added density. and i guarantee that this added density on streets like division, interstate, etc. is going to be 4+ stories.

on another note, this conversation about the corten steel is SO PLAYED OUT. regardless of where the ideal site for this project coulda/woulda/should have been, i feel sorry for the people who can't appreciate the aesthetics of this great building.


"4 stories does not a monolith make." anon

...unless considered as sited without regard for aesthetics or effects of the barrier they represent, within the context of a neighborhood of residential and commercial one and two story buildings. Appreciation of the architectural beauty that some people will see this building as having does not by virtue of that fact, necessarily counter the negative consequences related to where and how it was sited where it is today.

Roy Bilings

Monolith: Something suggestive of a large block of stone, as in immovability, massiveness, or uniformity.

I would say that it does qualify as a monolith. Also, I notice that you are not arguing the fact that is an Atrocity.

Frank Duffay, I ask you this: Tell me honestly that the Clinton Condos are an improvement over the Clay Rabbit on this corner in this neighborhood.

Regardless of whether or not if you think this is a great building. (I for one think it is hideous) It is a FACT that it is not an improvment for the neighborhood, but rather quite a LARGE step backwards in several Factual ways that can and have been named on this blog.


note to the collective complainers: if this is the atrocity/monolith of your neighborhood, then you are all very spoiled.


Dan Hammer


If the light was blocked to your whole street you might feel differently. This project made the neighborhood worse. That indicates a shitty project.

I met Randy. He is a self serving douchebag!


Underlying this argument may be our personal aesthetic tastes. Some find modern architecture to be a clean, bright, rational relief from dingy old bungalows. Some see buildings such as this to be a rare gem amidst a sea of backwards looking design. Others may prefer to live in the style of their grandparents. I say, bring on the glass and steel. Give me a breath of fresh bright air in February!

James Madsen

"I don't like change if it is not an improvement"

Ivan Baksay - Legendary Executive Recruiter

J. Valentine

Thank you, Craig, for the most rational and consensus-oriented comment posted:

"What we should try to figure out is how to make it much easier to replace a Plaid pantry and parking lot than a beautiful old house or building."

I have the same reaction to many of the debates on this site. Local government has a great deal of power. Municipalities have been flexing this newfound might in a number of different ways – anti-plastic bag ordinances, anti-hydrogenated oil ordinances, anti-smoking, etc… I hope that we can look to the new leadership of this city to help us infill in more rational, inventive, and conscientious ways. A lot of valuable land is wasted with surface parking or generic franchises. If we want to assert our independence on a national scale and retain our status as environmental front-runners, I think we need to re-think this aspect of our land-use policy. I’ve heard that the downtown surface lots, aside from being a family monopoly, have a semi-frozen tax rate that can only increase a fixed amount per year. Therefore, the property taxes on these lots do not reflect their true value. Regardless of whether or not that is true, it is obvious that the overhead is low and demand high enough to keep these blights viable. However, I feel that externalizes the cost to the surrounding community. The problem is that the externalized costs come in a variety of areas that are hard to quantify: aesthetics, livability, desirability, and missed development opportunities. Some costs, however, are quantifiable: the rate and degree of sprawl, the number of historic buildings destroyed, the habitable area per acre of our municipal core, surrounding property value, etc…

Somehow the leadership of our city should incentivize the market to develop parking lots and franchises into urban in-fill, possibly with a deal to keep the franchises as tenants, but with an urbanized location embedded in a mixed-use building. This will prevent the destruction of irreplaceable historic buildings and leave neighbors with a good taste in their mouth when they greet the new residents.

Pasadena Condos

Interesting post. I randomly came across it. Well written.

Dick Johnson

I could not agree with James Madsen more. The problem is not with the building itself, but the corner it was chosen to place it on.

You have 4 corners at the intersection.

1. A crumbling wherehouse
2. A crumbling Plaid Pantry Eye Sore
3. A terrible Cramped Apartment Complex
4. A Beautiful 100 Year Old Victorian with a beautiful yard, white picket fence and fruit trees.

The Developer left 1,2,and 3 and Destroyed #4 to build this Building.

An absolute HORRIBLE Mistake, and a terrible decision by the city, and the planners of this Condo Building.


Just came across this entry looking for something else....two comments from architects I know in the neighborhood: 1) this is a building with 1 front and 3 backs; 2) this building gives a big middle finger to the neighborhood. They both have a point and in Brian's text he never really points out what makes the building so good. Someday it would interesting if Brian would lay out for the world what his qualifications are for a "good" building, other than that Randy Gragg liked it, or that it appears to be new, hot and different. There is more to architecture than that.

Brian Libby


I agree with your assertion that the building doesn't address Division Street well enough. I can see why you say it's a building with one front and three backs. However, I found the geometry and formal qualities of the building and its details very beautiful, particularly the materials and how the CORTEN steel contrasts with the more jewel-like front facade. It's not a perfect building and I hope I didn't argue that it was. Even so, overall I find this a fine piece of architecture because of these formal, spatial and material qualities.

Saying I only like this building because Randy Gragg liked it is, while maybe not at the level of a slap in the face, certainly an unnecessary slight. I don't know what your line of work is, but what if I called you nothing but a blind follower of one of your colleagues? Let's have an intelligent conversation here and keep the light sabers off.


best ground plane on the east side. best skin on the east side.

name a mixed use that is better...besides belmont lofts.

Randy Mastiff

Looks like an abandoned building with new windows from the North and South sides.

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