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I would have to go with that Station Place is my least favorite. Nothing seems coherant, and unfortunately it just went up. However the Portland Building comes in a close second, its looks like something you would see under the tree come christmas time with a bow and everything.


I have always loved the Portland building. Inside it's not so great, but I think it is beautiful outside - my favorite building in the city. The building I think is the ugliest in Portland is the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. It feels like a cold prison cell inside - no color, just ice.


Hey, I liked the Portland building when it first went up. People forget how new and different it was.

I hear that it is badly constructed, and yes, it hasn't worn very well on the eye, but it was one of the first "post-modern" buildings in the US if I recall and God knows we needed to move beyond the obscenity of sterile modernism.

I thought the garlands were an OK idea back in the day... people forget that they were originally designed to be flowing curvilear structures that would have echoed the classicism of the Lady Portlandia sculpture... but they got truncated to squarish boring formalisms, lost the contrast with the linearity of the building, due to budgetary limitations if I recall correctly.

You can go around lamenting the Graves building, or you might celebrate that fact that right here in Portland it marked the death of modernism and the birth of post modernism. Sure birth is a messy process, but it's way better than the alternatives.

I raise a glass to Graves. His building (and probably a few others from the period, was it early 1980s?) marks a turning point in American design, and it's right here in our city.

I still think it's an interesting building.


As for the bad stuff, well that is a category that is endless.

The One True b!X

Now there's an idea for a Portland Walking Tour: The 10 Buildings You Most Don't Want To Go To.


I agree with the last couple posts. Mistakes were made with the Portland building, that's for sure. It's very cheaply made, which you can blame the city for, not Michael Graves. But I remember being at a lecture by Graves in Portland a couple years ago - his first in the city since the building was built - that was pursuasive. Graves showed a slide of the Portland Building in its neighborhood context and said something to the effect of, "The rest of the city's downtown buildings are either gray, white or black. This is the city of roses. Why not have some color?"


I can't remember the name of the building (I think it's some insurance company?), but the big black box near the Civic Auditorium (or Keller, or whatever people are calling it nowadays) is hideous. Such a morbid eyesore on an otherwise lovely skyline...

The One True b!X

FYI, I'm on board with the liking of the Portland Building (setting aside, since I don't work there, the issues people who work there have with working there).


The Pearl District - 1 or 2 lofts are OK, but row after row makes these seem like some Eastern European housing project.

If you disagree, let me know which one of those apartments looks any better/worse than any other. Totally devoid of personality.

Not a lot of creativity in space planning, very efficient though.


Big pink. Hands down.

no one in particular

The Standard Insurance building at 900 SW 5th (the one with "the quest for the breast" statue outside... not the smaller one a few blocks away).

Other ugly buildings in Portland at least tried to be distinctive or different or at least interesting in SOME WAY. The Standard Insurance building is just BLAND. There's no reason to even bother to look up.


My vote would be for Shriners Hospital on Marquam Hill.

The Portland Building never bothered me because you don't really notice it unless you are next door. And I like the Portlandia Statue.

I also do not like the KOIN Tower. For some reason it doesn't work for me.


Every time I walk by the Wells Fargo building I cringe. It's a clumsy immitation of Chicago's truly bold and elegant Bank One Plaza (60 stories, built in the mid-60's by C.F. Murphy Associates).


My vote is for the "Black Box" as well.


Definitely - the KOIN tower. Somehow, it's oddly phallic.

Jack Bog

Actually, the correct name for the statue at 900 SW Fifth is "Three Groins in the Fountain."

Jack Bog

BTW, can we hold off on this until they top off the South Waterfront condo towers? They will be among the five or six very tallest buildings in the city, and eventually, the five or six most reviled.

The One True b!X

I drop my vote for the KOIN Tower as well. I can't stand that building.


I disagree about South Waterfront. The Meriwether condos and the John Ross are pretty nice. The only people who revile them are West Hills residents concerned about their view, for which they do not hold a monopoly.


"Ugliness" by itself is too broad and subjective. Instead, I'm thinking in terms of missed opportunities. Topping the list in my neighborhood is the Hawthorne Fred Meyer... the way it meets the street is just plain awful, and the fake urban facade only stands as a constant reminder of how nice it would have been to continue the ped-friendly scale of buildings down the block.


My choice is the Lloyd Building with the cheap looking curtain/facade (checkerboard top to bottom) that is boring. The older building with the linear columns has scale and something to it. The Lloyd district buildings should also have more step back roofs for hanging gardens since the blocks are larger and so the bases (parking and retail) could then be scaled back as the structure goes up. Lack of a vision by the planners/politicians there. Set back supers towers would also save views from the westside.



I'm voting for the KOIN tower as well. It blocks the view of Mt. Hood when you come out of the tunnel and it doesnt seem to fit with the rest of the buildings that surround it.


In short response regarding the Standard Insurance Center comment, it's probably fair to recollect that Standard didn't build that building, it bought it from Georgia Pacific, which should be saddled with any architectural criticism.

Across the intersection at 5th and Salmon from the Standard Ins. Center is the big black building now called something like the "Congress Building," in memory of the attractive, old buidling that got bulldozed to put it up. That building is an even uglier one than the black box across from Keller Auditorium.

P.S. I look out at the Portland Building every day, and continue to like it.


I love the Standard building. It's actually one of my favorite in Portland. While there is indeed a lot of concrete to it, the building to me has a poetic simplicity to its form. All of which is why it's in the official photo for the site in the top right corner.


Do we get to count the row houses in NW Portland? How about Lloyd Center Mall? Maybe you should just wait until the E Burnside Bridgehead is done; I hear they are working on some more car dealerships!


I think the Rose Garden is ugly as sin. Almost any other design would have been better

Bubba Van Der Rohe

I concur with Mr. Libby's assessment of Bank of America Financial Center. The building worsens at dusk and night when the garish green neon is lit. Tracing the building's roofline (seemingly more appropriate to a Hillsboro office park), the neon screams against the otherwise subtle lumination of the Portland skyline.

Mises van der Rot

So many downtown. You guys are missing
the ugliest thing in town. It is a brand new building just
west of 205 next to the Shell station
on Division.

Just plain damn ugly which is no wonder it is vacant.
M. R.

The One True b!X

I know this is about ugly (and I know some people do find this one ugly), but I adore The Weatherly.



I'd agree with JB above that the Fred Meyer on Hawthorne is probably one of the worst because it just turns it's back on this great walking street and seems to say "we're big, we don't have to relate to you."

Yes the Lloyd Center is bad... but strangely invisible... it's a parking garage from one side, a wall from another.... one is hard pressed to hold it as a building in mind at all. It's bad news, but it's part of a whole neighborhood that is all but devoid of design or aesthetic thought.

Fred Meyer on Hawthorne is particularly jarring because it is part of something so nice.

All the worst buildings tend to have one thing in common: they ignore the sidewalk and street, present a blank wall, or a wall of windows, and somehow declare that they don't want to be connected to the very place in which they stand.

A building must relate to the street, provide points of interaction all along every facade. It's the difference between being a good citizen and ... not being one.

My two cents.


The Portland Building inspires conversation, and is one building in Portland I continue to be drawn to even though I know it is filled with fault. As for the ugliest building in Portland, I'll nominate all the ones which are being built to appear as though they have been here for the past hundred years. I would much rather build a building that fails miserably, than one that holds us back so completely.


I think the Portland Building is awful. It's a huge square block with gody, and cheap looking, decoration all around it. I love Portlandia but I think it's a digrace that she is attached to the cheap looking tile entrance of the building.

I however don't think the Portland Building is the worst. The Louisa Apartments that were just completed in the Brewery Blocks is hideous and takes my award for not only the ugliest, but also the most dissappointing recently completed building too. It looks like an ugly boring office building suited more for the Boise skyline than Portland. I think the architects should be banned from any new P-town buildings.

Angie Lawless

I thought I was the only one in town who actually likes the Portland Building. Glad to see I'm not alone. I love its sense of humor, it reminds me not to take things too seriously and to lighten up.

Although I do detest the Standard Insurance Building I can't believe no one has put in a no-vote for the ODS Tower, AKA the Odious Tower. The artist who had the unmitigated temerity to destroy that AMAZING tree and then prop it's lifeless carcass up with huge ugly metal brackets (see the play by play of destruction in the lobby)...let's just say death is too good for that person. It defies all reason.

Nuff said.

Eric Berg

I don't claim to know much about architecture, but my vote goes to the Bank of California Tower (SW Broadway & Washington). The Marriot (SW Natio Ave.) is a close second.


"Yes the Lloyd Center is bad... but strangely invisible... it's a parking garage from one side, a wall from another.... one is hard pressed to hold it as a building in mind at all. It's bad news, but it's part of a whole neighborhood that is all but devoid of design or aesthetic thought."

That's my point exactly; the Lloyd Center is the absolute center of everything you can do wrong in urban planning. The whole are is a monstrosity, with streets that are designed to pilot you around and around this god-awful Mecca of the worst kind of capitalism (is there ever anything you actually NEED from that place?). Occasionally I find myself stuck in that hell and it's like a struggle to get out of there.

I do get your point, however, about Hawthorn Fred Meyer, but Lloyd Center gets my vote, and not just because it is a sprawling mess of ugliness, but because I'm actually filled with dread at the thought of going in that place.


I meant to say: The whole area is a monstrosity.


If you think about the portland building and what Graves said, even he didn't have anything good to say about it other than "this is the rose city, why not give it some color"...

Gee, why don't we all color our building pretty pinks, red's and greens and dress them up with bow ties, then call it good.

C'mon now!


Excuse me for wanting buildings other than black, white and gray.


Brian I agree... for all it's faults the Portland building is playful. It makes me smile. Someone tried to do something fun there.

The problem with selecting the bad is that it endless. We have strips like Halsey at 118th: http://www.portlandground.com/archives/2005/07/halsey_at_118th_1.php#more

We have gas stations on 82nd: http://www.portlandground.com/archives/2004/10/black_and_white.php

I hear you on the Lloyd Center Glen.

For a building to be bad in a way that is worth talking about there has to be some kind of contrast...

...bad considering how much money they spent on it.

...bad considering how nice everything else around it is.

...bad considering that there is no way for people to avoid it.

And I'm with Eric on Bank of California Tower (SW Broadway & Washington)... a special place in design hell for whoever did that one.

Oh, but there are endless faceless blocks that seem half empty downtown, are they not worse? Well they are worse than the Bank of California tower... but unlike the tower they don't look like they had any design budget to start with, whereas somehow you know some thought went into the Bank tower... and yet look at the result.

Money badly spent hurts more than money unspent, almost. At least it's more fun to be snarky about.


And yes I know the difference between its and it's. It's just that my fingers can't remember its proper form.


I think the suggestion of the Hawthorne Fred Meyer is brilliant, but there's also that huge brick monolith across the street from it, too. I don't even know what it is - maybe a shopping bazaar for college hippies? And I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Hilton tower.

And if The One True b!X can pick a favorite building, I want in, too. I love the Dosha building in NW. It's elegant yet open, sleek but tranquil. I'm such a sucker for it.

James Tata

It's not usually the gratuitously ugly that catches my eye, but rather the humdrum. I think few buildings in town are uglier than 511 SW 10th, ("Portland Medical Center") mostly for being an unimaginative example of the fairly dull International Style. Give me a spectacular failure any time.


I've had a hard time narrowing down the field. I have 3 nominees:

1) The new mixed use building at NE 16 and Brodway that will house Zupans. Given the public input this project received I am amazed that this train wreck was ever built. The materials and language of this folly are totally out of character for the neighborhood. If you have not seen this one, hold your nose as you approach this steamer.

2) The granite monolith at Park and Burnside occupied by AT&T. This building presents its cold windowless backside right to the curb of Burnside, choking off all pedestrian activity at this pivotal location adjacent to the Park blocks. The few ill proportioned windows that exist in this eight story bunker are all located eight feet or more above the sidewalk. To top it off.... an enormous antenna array.

3) If I was forced to tag one building as the ugliest in Portland, it would have to be the ODS tower. This building is rife with missed opportunities. The massing is clumsy and unrefined, the detailing insensitive. It meets the street coldly and has an uninviting presence. One major retail tenant has already abandoned this relatively new space. I think the masochistic dead tree sculpture at the main entry says it all.


My Top Ten Ugly Portland Buildings:

1) KATU on Sandy Blvd.
2) Rose Garden
3) MAC Club (especially the back side that faces PGE Park)
4) ODS Tower
5) Main Post Office at NW Hoyt St.
6) Wells Fargo Tower
7) New mixed use building at NW Broadway & 16th
8) Lloyd Center Mall
9) Most of the Lloyd Center towers
10) Most of 82nd Avenue


If you count bridges in the building category as well, then the Marquam Bridge takes the cake without any question.


"If you have not seen this one, hold your nose as you approach this steamer."

Brilliant. And so true.

Ken Bauer

As a lover of mordern architecture, Portland can be a frustrating place. Way too many stumpy wide buildings that are not the so call "pedestrian friendly". I agree with the ods critics. The KPF designed Morrison Tower would have added much more to the skyline. I agree some of the views from the west hills need to be preserved but not all. More streamline tall buildings would preserve views. The Portland Building is an example of how Portland falls short in it's vision. Michael Graves Humana Building in louisville would have been better. The Rose Garden is one of the finest designed sports arenas in the world. Way ahead of the curve and what the rest of the world is designing. Fox Tower almost got it right but it is 200 ft too short. I'm very depressed by the lame slab arch. and vision in the Burnside Bridgehead. Cities always have their ugly buildings but as long as the vision falls short in Portland, more ugly buildings will be on the way for "stumptown".


A lot of people may disagree with me on this one because this building is quite pedestrian friendly. But the newish mixed-use condo/retail building on 34th and Hawthorne (Noodlin', American Apparel, etc.) looks like some sort of alien ship from Betelguese landed in the middle of 1928. Sort of a weird "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" episode or something. Of course, it could have been worse: This is where they wanted to put a McDonalds.


Wells fargo may not be pretty but it's all business. Gotta disagree with Brian Libby on with the BOA financial center, but since this isn't Vegas the green neon should go. "Big pink" should be renamed big stink, but the building that gets my vote for ugliest is city hall. Those pillars out in front are hideous! Industrial size tinker toys would make for a better replacement.

Eric Berg

"The Rose Garden is one of the finest designed sports arenas in the world."????

I much prefer going to events at Key Arena in Seattle or GM Place in the Canadian 'Couv. Hell, I'll take the Memorial Coliseum over the RG for hockey any day.

One of the things I dislike about the RG is that it's overtly very segregated. The suites at the RG stand out way too much. In many arenas and stadiums, suites blend in. Rails separate sections in the arena bowl. This also makes it hard to make one's way around.

I've been going to the RG since it opened and I still can't figure out how best to go to and from the third level.


1. Wells Fargo Tower
2. Standard Insurance Building aka Standard Plaza
3. Standard Insurance Center (Georgia Pacific Bldg)
4. Days Inn Downtown (near PSU)
5. Sheraton Four Points (Skidmore District)
6. Columbia Management 1300 SW 6th Ave.
7. Many PSU Buildings (like Neuberger Hall)
8. Bank of California Tower
9. South Auditorium District
10. Keller Auditorium


my vote is for the disaster at 6th and oak. sandwiched betweeen big pink and the bidwell (across 6th from the old wells fargo building), i don't think this monstrosity has even ever been occupied. unfortunately, i have to look at it everyday.

another (which i'm surpirsed hasn't been mentioned yet) is the "ban roll-on" building on broadway. it's another one, tom me, that just doens't seem to fit in our skyline.

no one in particular


That brick building across from Fred Meyer on Hawthorne is an old masonic temple, hence all the brick. It's been a lot of things over the years. I even went to a rave in it once in like 1996. After that it was an internet cafe (not b!X's, though), now there's a head shop, a bar, and an indian restaurant in there (and probably some other things)...


I can't tell you how glad I was to hear you rip on the Bank of America Financial Center. My office is in One World Trade Center (not really a beauty in its own right) and I have to stare at that ugly-ass building every single day. It not only annoys me with it's hideous color scheme, but it also blocks out my view of Mt. St. Helens. Hmph.


I don't agree that the Bank of California is on the top 10 ugly list...while the precast is heavy handed and clumsy the building parti and execution and quality of materials is much more powerful than any of the other office boxes in town.

We may never agree on the top 10 (or bottom 10)...the list of ugly buildings is way too long.


jeez--no one has suggested the Convention Center expansion (the original, with the two pyramidal towers, was nice by itself)?
how about the freaking Red Lion building next to the Rose Quarter (the one that is now "Rose Quarter employee housing")? Or for that matter any of the hotels next to the Convention Center?
Last, how about the greena nd beige monstrosity on the west side of SW 12th, north of Jefferson? (I am looking at it out my window in the 1000 SW Braodway Building (the ban roll-on building), which though itself is not great to look at has nice views from inside.


Another one I'm amazed no one has mentioned is Montgomery Park... all right, it's out of most people's way, but if you're there, wow, it's ugly. And there's a great big sign on top advertising how ugly it is! It inspired Mr. Burns! Can't say that about the Wells Fargo tower :-)


The Mark O. Hatfield Federal Building is a pretty big eyesore...or it will be, in a decade or two. It may be hip and modern today to have crazy jutting angles and curved things and useless arches all over the place, but give it about 20 years, and we'll be saying the same thing about Hatfield that we do about the hideous Portland Building.


Questions for: The One True b!X
Have you been to Eastern Europe or have you worked there? Are you talking about present or past buildings? How do they compare to the NY project buildings for example based on the time and era? Setting some criteria standards would a lot better than just gripe at something that you may or may not know.


In order of floors:
Edith Green - Wendell Wyatt Federal Building
Benjamin Franklin Plaza
ODS Tower
1000 Broadway
Bank of America Center
Pacific First Center
1515 Market Square
Pacific Tower
Ione Plaza
Hollywood East

Zachary Moran

Of the downtown buildings, the Cascades is the worst, The Portland Building, Wells Fargo and Koin tower all had their heyday, like a vintage car. Their only crime is being out of fashion. The Cascades building as part of Pioneer Place is truly weak and seems painfully mediocre, cheep and thoughtless in its appearance. At least people know of the Koin Tower. The Wells Fargo Tower is gorgeous when compared to other buildings from the early 70’s. Portland Public Services Building, no matter who had designed it, would still be a cheep building; at least Graves gave it some color and distinction.

Edward Campbell

I nominate a new winner, and the building is still under construction - the new Courtyard by Marriott on SW 5th avenue and Oak. I thought it was a prison going up, but didn't understand the lone window in each cubical cell – so I went to investigate up close. Portland does have a prison high rise downtown and it, very literally, is a more attractive building. This building makes me want to drown puppies and kick small children.
I can find beauty in the ban roll on building, the R2D2 building, wells-Fargo plaza (and lets be fair, it’s nearly 40 years old), the Bank of America center. The only explanation for this atrocity against Portland I can imagine is that someone at Marriott is wicked ticked off at Portland...and this is our punishment. That or a group of intoxicated spider monkeys were set free on a construction site of prefab Lego elements.
For those of you who haven’t seen this horror, it’s simple enough to describe. Imagine a flat cement wall square. Now put a glass rectangle 1/12th the size of the square in the middle. Now repeat 720 times stacking 8 wide by 6 wide by 15 high. Paint it brown-grey. Genius.


thanks to EC i just discovered this post. i strongly agree with the bank of america being perahps the ugliest building in town. but if we're not restricted to large commercial buildings, then i would have to say hands down that hideous apt/condo building at the corner of se 20th and morrison. terrible design and cheap materials - i've never seen so much efflorescence on a single builiding.
every time i go past it i'm embarrassed.

J. Valentine

I agree with Zachary. The Cascades is insidiously mediocre. The Standard building next to it (not The Standard building in the heading photos) is ridiculously unimaginative and austere. Interestingly though, I’ve come to like the Wells Fargo Building, which has almost the exact same design as the Standard Building, because of the beautiful marble and other high quality building materials. I think it has aged well.

name and address are required

With nearly all of these buildings, I can see SOMETHING, some kind of art, some kind of creativity that makes them, maybe not my cup of tea, but there is some artist value.

We have a hands down winner that is just awful, zero artistic value, zero creative value – very honestly I find it offensive - The courtyard by Marriott city center. I seriously thought it was a prison when it was going up and even then I was angry.

The new Sera Design looks like the nightmarish morning-after twix many mobile homes, a hurricane and a colossal trash compactor. If you haven't seen it - imagine a concrete square; now put a trailer window in the middle. Now – ka chunk ka chuck ka chunk – just keep repeating that design into a gigantic box. Paint it grey or beige…. for personalized whimsy. It’s a chicken wire and concrete dream, with the whole grain goodness of particle board.

In the immortal words of Nancy Kerrigan, Why why why, dear god, why would anyone, I don’t care how 'green' it is, allow, permit, pay for this? Whoever the architect at Sera is - clearly you hate your job; please find something that isn’t tormenting your inner child so you can stop taking it out on society.

What’s perhaps just as sad, is that here is another example of “well gorsh, shur’in ita ugly but its green”. Didn’t Tesla teach us anything with the Model S. It can be green AND sexy. Half flush toilets can in no way justify this. Really. Ever.

And who approved this and said good job? Evidently vodka isn’t the right morning beverage for everyone.

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