As the Rose Quarter Stakeholder Advisory Committee gathers this evening (January 26 from 5-8:30pm) at Memorial Coliseum, I'd like to continue looking at some of the proposals. In the last four posts the focus was one project at a time, but with 95 proposals in all and presentations coming today, I'll present several this time.
First there is the "Light It Up" (pictured in renderings at top and immediately below), a concept described as bringing natural light into two zones within the existing Coliseum building. "The convention space located beneath the Main Entry Plaza has been identified and described by many as being dark and uninviting," its summary reads. So they propose an addition of two sculptural skylights: one centered before the building's main entry canopy and the second in the plaza. "In two other areas, natural light can be avoidably brought into the Convention Space by creating large punched opening along the space's western walls on either side of the main entry and inserting a glazing system. This will bring in light and afford conventioneer's views of the fountain and courtyards while also letting the public view inside to see what is happening."
The Light It Up concept also poses a replacement of the Coliseum's main roof to let in expansive daylight. The proposal explains that "the roof decking would be removed and replaced with either a translucent panel system or glazing system."
Personally, I really like half of this concept, where skylights are cut into the Coliseum's underground exhibit hall. This is something the Friends of Memorial Coliseum has suggested from the beginning of this process: enlivening the exhibit hall with natural light and using this area as the focus of new development and programming.
As for cutting a gigantic skylight into Memorial Coliseum proper, the arena itself, I'm more skeptical. Much of the building's structural support comes from the roof, so I'm not sure it is possible to do. But even if it is, there is already substantial natural light brought in from the four glass walls. The skylight above could amount to expensive overkill.
Another concept, which I admittedly find a little silly, is the Car Memorial Museum. "We propose to re-purpose Memorial Coliseum in a way that will foster Portland’s evolution into a model sustainable city of the future," the proposal says. "Our concept begins with the counterintuitive conversion of the Coliseum into a colossal robotic parking garage. And it ends mid-century with the launching of a museum that celebrates the bygone era of the automobile."
"The Coliseum building is well-suited to hold a modular robotic parking system," the proposal continues, "and could accommodate roughly 5200 cars. Ideally, it would be one of several such 'Mobility Centers' that would ring downtown. Over time, as the city grows and reliance on cars declines, these facilities would be relocated to less urbanized areas. Eventually, when parking is no longer needed in the Coliseum, we propose convert it back to a civic use, namely the 'Car Memorial Museum.' The robotic parking apparatus would then be re-purposed to store museum 'specimens,' and to retrieve them on demand for close up display to museum patrons.
The people behind the Car Memorial Museum aren't just parking magnates. They explain on the proposal's website that while parking is a lucrative endeavor, their real purpose is to celebrate the end of the automobile.
Even so, I can't help but feel a robotic parking garage is an slap in the face to Gordon Bunshaft (the legendary Skidmore Owings Merrill architect behind the design) and Bill Walton, and to the Coliseum's place as a landmark building. It would gut the interior of the Coliseum and devote it to automobiles in a city where bicyclists and pedestrians are king.
Then there is the Peace Garden (below), from local architect Bill Badrick. "My proposal is to turn a former sports building into a garden/hotel/indoor gourmet center," Badrick writes. The entire seating bowl will be converted to personal garden boxes. Each former seat will become a private high tech planter for lease to city gardeners for their prize lilly or rose bush.
"The building," Badrick adds, "will have a sun-filled inflatable insulated dome added. The centerpiece of this garden bowl is a ferris wheel which rotates to allow dramatic garden viewing. The concourse around the seating/planting bowl will be made into a boutique green hotel. The building will create all of it's [sic] energy needs with a Water Wheel in the adjacent Willamette River."
Badrick has been a regular Portland Architecture reader and commenter for a long time, and I've always appreciated his insights as well as the watercolor paintings he creates for all of his design ideas. In the past he has also submitted ideas for the Willamette MAX bridge being built by TriMet, as well as the Columbia River Crossing bridge, each focused around the idea of adding park-like spaces to the bridges.
So I want to give Bill the utmost respect when I say this: A ferris wheel? An inflated dome? The seating bowl converted to garden boxes? Are you kidding?
Like I said, with 95 submissions there isn't enough time in my day (or month) to write about all of the proposals. If there's a great Coliseum/Rose Quarter proposal among the 95 that someone things I really should look at and present in more detail, I'm happy to oblige. But you can also read about each of the proposals here, on the Rose Quarter Development Project website. And again, at 5PM tonight at Memorial Coliseum, presenters will be making presentations in their own words.