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Kai Jones

I much prefer the Emmons design; the changing angles to the windows make it more interesting to look at, and I like the delta wing shape on top--is it flying the building off into the sky, or bringing it in for a landing? Either way, it helps the building bring motion to the setting. The other building looks positively staid.

Eli Elder

I don' really care for either. The "modern" design seems too big and boxy (in a somewhat exciting manner I guess). TYhe "traditional" building is traditional only in the fact that it isn't trying to be modern and because it uses that every communities favorite material brick. I have no real problem with traditional styling (not my personal preference but . .) the problem is the massing and organization of the building LRS would do well to look at some actual examples of traditional storefront buildings and maybe leave the clunky octagonal towers on the drawing board.

Dan Toole

I agree. Both designs are not very anchored. LRS makes a faux-strip mall gesture with no scalar adjustments in the edges of the buildings. The person designing needs to go look at some of the mixed use buildings along the main drag in westmoreland (the library around there). The Emmons building is clean but does not celebrate this new context of undeveloped territory. LRS should set a precedent to be followed as this area begins new things here in the next 5 years. Wonder what Hacker would have done?


When left up to neighborhood selection committees we are going to almost always see a "bland" result.
Take a look at the Hawthorne Condominiums or the Belmont Lofts. Neither of those projects would have been built had they been subject to neighborhood approval


The Emmons building may have something. . . but it's hard to tell under all the graphics. . .there's a restaurant there somewhere??? Are overdone graphics the new ivy?


I personally get tired of neighborhood folks criticizing buildings that have a modern aesthetic. I think it is thoroughly appropriate to locate a variety of different styles of buildings in an area, particularly if they are being built in a largely commercial environment. These are areas where diversity in design adds to the flavor of a neighborhood. You would be hard pressed to find an area, even if most of the buildings are older, that is completely homogeneous. I don't love the Emmons design, but the LRS design is lacklustre. Additionally, MLK is not an area that has retained a whole lot of it's original character, so I say why go traditional?


I'm going to stick my neck out here... I'm currently a 3rd year achitecture student @ PSU, and have thoroughly embraced design. Modernism... green, contemporary; to me it doesn't really matter: materiality, building technology and how the thing is organized and communicates to people is more important than "style."

Which is a misnomer. The problem with the winning LRS design is that it wasn't really thought out. It looks like they stuck together a couple of prefab "historical" architectural pieces together and call it a "building."

It basically has no soul - no aspiration, no nothing. Older buildings have that: the architect at the time actually cared about it, and used the materials in a way that worked with the design, instead of fighting it... which is what, to me, a lot of current "historic" buildings are doing.

Plus, how many architects are really trained in historic architecture theories, including proportionality?

It would be like me designing a space shuttle.

Mike Conroy

I don't know, the LRS building reminds me of a Wilsonville Wallgreens and the Emmons seems like it was modeled after an Orange County rock gym. I particularly am not impressed with that roof. There seems to be a lot of that nasty roof overhang in Portland lately spoiling otherwise good architecture such as the new Hilton downtown. What is that about anyway?
Anyway, neither of the two designs seems very inspiring. If they really want it to blend in they should honestly try to replicate the surrounding architecture or if they want it to stand out they should look to Europe instead of the land of Disney.
Mike Conroy


Neighborhood folks aren't provincial bumpkins too dumb to understand the latest design theory, they're people who've been repeatedly burned by architectural fads. I think there might be a lot less opposition from neighborhoods to contemporary design if so much of it wasn't so god-awfully bad, and so terribly cheap looking. It's all well and good to push for cutting edge design when you don't have to live next to it.


moderism in not a style


Part of the issue with this site is that it straddles between commercial MLK and the residential neighborhood on a relatively small site. The fear ,and thus the request for "traditional", is likely regarding the housing towards the neighborhood and not the MLK face. But neighborhood leaders would be well to understand that MLK's best is turning towards the modern clean lines and facade activity (read NIKE outlet) and worst is psuedo suburban mall(read the still in sticks MID-MLK retail also with corner tower entry.....oh please). A design firm would be well to address both issues and stay away from a "style". While LRS is (in my opinion) a good firm, I think they may have gotten to much of the small retail market segment, and are resting on their laurels here. They should not be allowed another corner entry for 720 days and their octagonal rocket should take off.

Stuart Emmons

The reality is that our design had widespread community support - contrary to the personal tastes of the jury. We had a person very involved in the community on our team who showed our scheme to her many neighbors, and one comment stood out - 'you mean we can have this here?' They were really excited about the possibility that their neighborhood could have a place that brought the community together in a community family style restaurant that opened up to, and activated MLK Blvd. Streets named after MLK throughout the country are an insult to the words of this great man - he looked to the future to a world that was free of racial discrimination. In other words - 'don't look back'. We tried to put his words into built form.

the crow

pdc and neighborhood groups do not mix to make nice architecture. To be bluntly honest, i am all for the public participating in shaping their environment, but maybe, just maybe the public is given too much power in cases such as this? let the people trained help guide and shape the built environment. as it is i think both designs try too hard, one psuedo-historic from down the street, and the other a box whitewashed in graphics. how about getting some commissioned designs? a real site, with a real budget with a design chosen by a qualified jury of experts from various fields? invite some outside talent to contend with our local talent, and then the public will see the real playing field - in the end it may elevate our own designs and the opinions of joe-public.

Doug Klotz

Amy's comment (How many architects are really trained in historic architecture theories, including proportionality) is right on. Architects, up to the 1920's anyway, were taught the history of their profession, and the theories, conventions and heirarchies that have been used for centuries, at least in Western cultures, extending all the way back to ancient Greece.

The modern movement threw all that out, in a deliberate break with the past. Except, the general public didn't do the same. In the minds of many Americans, especially those who choose to live in older neighborhoods, the old theories, standards, and practices, are better thought out, more complete, and more rewarding than the Modern Movement ever delivers.

The architecture profession, with some exceptions, has failed to produce an alternative aesthetic "system" to rival traditional Western architecture. Modern is all over the map, and is just as faddish (the inclined overhanging shed roof?) as traditional architecture ever was.

"Modern" architecture has by and large failed to create places that people will fight to preserve. The buildings look distinctive from afar (or from driving by at 40 MPH), but are unrewarding up close. There's little of the heirarchy of details visible on older buildings. Think of the typical 1910 brick commercial building. From afar, a distinctive cornice shape, and perhaps a large archway in bricks defines the building. Approach closer, and the details of windows and door arrangement are apparent. Walk right up to the building, and you notice the small details; molded brick, shaped mouldings around the doors and windows. Perhaps a detailed bronze storefront window system, with classical bronze miniature columns.

Approach a modern building this close, and you are rewarded with the standard 2 inch by 4 inch rectangular aluminum storefront system. You see no additional detail by going from 50 feet away to 5 feet away.

Of course, the traditional-style buildings often also break down at the close range. You can't easily spec detailed storefront systems that were off-the-shelf items 100 years ago. Your only choice is rectangular aluminum. But certainly the architects who are truly trying should be applauded.


I agree completely that REAL architecture of the past is wonderful. The average 1910 building is much more detailed and architecturally sound than a building built today. My case for modern architecture over so-called "traditional" architecture of today stems from the fact that today's traditional-style designs aren't traditional at all when it comes to their overall attention to detail, structure and quality materials. But they try and re-create the basic forms in a manner that to me lacks integrity. Modern architecture is certainly no panacea, but I believe it has more integrity than faux-traditional design and is more appropriate for the streamlining of details that exists in both traditional and modern styles of today. Modernism certainly has its faults, but at least it's not pretending to be something it's not.

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