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casey

the ladd tower is going to be pretty sweet. why do all the buildings in the SOUTH park blocks have to be low or midrise? i think the sleek wall of tall reflective glass is going to make the park block trees in front of it stand out more. the tower is going to add a whole new dimension to the experience of the south park blocks, a new silhouette on the city's skyline, and a lot of residences in our urban core. too bad for the rosefriend, but i think its awesome that they're saving the carriage house. in most american cities both buildings would be bulldozed to the ground.

Dennis H. Coalwell

I agree, Casey...

jerry

I attended the design review meeting this afternoon. I thought the person heading the meeting was extremely unprofessional and blatantly biased in favor of this hulk soon to loom on the frontage of this narrow park space. When a neighbor was up giving her comments he demanded of her something like "well, where WOULD you like to see density." Very contentious and out of place in this meeting. The architects' presentation was faintly nauseating as well: they seemed to think that they should be credited not only with the preservation of the LCH but, inexplicably, sparing the First Christian Church -- their clients! -- from being destroyed.

By the way, Casey, the reason the buildings along the park are all less than 1/3rd the height of the Ladd Tower exists in city codes, the intent of which was made clear during this meeting. And apart from present compatibility we have to consider the future. Were the narrow greenery of the park blocks to be surrounded by similar 21 story buildings we'd have a distinctly unpleasant and dark, if not infertile, South Park Blocks.

Thumbs down to this poor choice of location, and thumbs down to First Christian for giving the Rosefriend residents the boot so that Opus et al can make their millions turning downtown Portland into a carbon copy of every other city in America.

ws

The commission was reasonably expedient, making efforts to ensure that certain confusing points were understood. In an initial explanation of the results of their study of the design to date, one point about which they had concerns related to the lack of setback on the Park Ave side of the block. This echoed concerns of those testifying, even though the applicants claimed that city codes do not require a setback on the park blocks.

It’s distressing and embarrassing that people from Portland would not automatically make such a setback considering the consequences of not doing so, upon the South Park Blocks, and the experience of those who visit them.

A commissioner asked of one person, introducing themselves as an architect, and opposed to the tower, where, as an architect, they would like to see density. I didn’t note any disrespect or contempt in the voice of the person questioning. Maybe it’s because I was in the back of the room.

Some interesting points were made: (1) the applicant, for some reason, has elected to not use the total allowable height for the block (260’ as opposed to a possible 300’). (2) A person testifying in opposition submitted the idea of orienting the tower north to south on Broadway, rather than west to east on Jefferson, thereby alleviating the abrupt tower to park blocks situation (carriage house would go to the NW corner).

This seems like a viable proposition if the tower were to ascend in setbacks starting from Columbia at the height of the Carriage House, and reaching max height of 300’ at the NE corner. Of course, the applicants would likely be opposed to such a suggestion as it would mean some condo tenants would be looking out over the roof of the Carriage House for their view of the park tree tops.

Personally, I continue to think of a design in which the Rosefriend stays in its present location as a free standing, completely refurbished building, or with its shell incorporated as the exterior of the tower base. The tower, Park Avenue side would step back from 3 stories up to whatever 300’ gives it on the Broadway side. Move the Carriage House to the Park/Jefferson corner, and the tower, could still work, but with a different shaped footprint.

Positive things should be noted in the 3 story base of the base of the tower; a nice courtyard entry on the Broadway side, pathetically, appropriately so, using the Rosefriends arch as a decorative feature; real stone cladding instead of something cheap looking. The rest of the tower nonetheless, remains an unimaginative, uninspired, 90 degree cornered glass box.

At the very least, considering that this design does not presently utilize its maximum 300’ allowable height, the roofline might have been given an angle, tipping towards the Park Blocks and rising towards Broadway. That would have lowered the Park Ave side by 40’, making it actually less than 210', since the 260' figure factors in some kind of doo-dad on the top of the building center.

A most disconcerting observation, was that in their lengthy, drawn out presentation, the applicants offered virtually nothing to suggest that other design configurations possibly incorporating the Rosefriend Apartment building or its façade into the tower base, were explored. Also, nothing was offered to suggest that other exterior tower shapes were considered, employing curves, angles, or bevels that would have aided the passage of sun into the park, thus lending sensitivity on the part of the design, to that resource, and exploiting an opportunity to create a world class, extraordinary beautiful and interesting building.

Also, this design would appear to make no provision for residence accessibility by people with income levels equivalent to those people displaced by loss of the Rosefriend.

It’s wonderful that the applicants would lavish such attention upon the Carriage House, but difficult to fathom why they would not at least exert the effort to produce some really inspired design alternatives to this one, that weren't so obviously constrained, either by lack of dollars or imagination, or both. Is this lack of doing so, what they would have us remember them by?

I regret that I was unable to address these points to the commission personally.

thedude

Jerry, Never forget that the basis of this decision is PARKING, not the actual tower. The tower allows the church to build the massive amount of parking they need. The reason that two historic buildings are threatened is because the church needs to dig most of the site for PARKING. If it was about the tower then a quarter block tower (see the benson) could easily be done on the se corner and the carrage house moved to the nw corner, but that would not allow the church to build the huge amount of parking they need. I hate the fact that high density housing is going to get the blame when parking for suburban church members is the real issue.

jerry

'thedude,' what you say about the church's parking is important to keep in mind. And planning questions of 'where' and 'how dense' probably aren't what a design review is for. The situation is this: dig a new parking lot and pay for it by putting 190 affluent and therefore likely car-owning tenants on top. The church's needs were somewhat out of proportion to the resulting proposal, and considering the value of the condos (more than 60 million) it isn't hard to develop a suspicion of an out of town based developer leading this church by the nose to the big-profit conclusion. Considerations of the historical building being razed, the low-rent tenants therein being displaced, and the clear height restrictions on Park Block frontages have not been subordinated to the need for church parking; they've been subordinated to the developers' profit motive.

One last thing regarding the Rosefriend: The project architects' statements indicated that they came into this project in 2003. The staff report shows that 1st Christian took the Rosefriend off the city's Historic Resource Inventory in 2004. The decision to destroy this irreplaceable piece of architecture must certainly have been behind it. Alternatives, therefore, don't appear to have been explored for some time.

Jeff Joslin

Just a brief clarification on the Historic Resource Inventory removal. The Inventory is not a designation. It's the result of a "windshield survey" done in the mid 80's to identify properties potentially worth considering for future historic status. Today, the Zoning Code has a built-in delay for projects on the Inventory for which demoltion is intended. However, state statute requires that anyone owning a property on the inventory can be requested to be removed. When such a request is made, the delay cannot be imposed. As you might imagine, this is the typical approach for the owners of such properties with a demolition intention.

Jeff Joslin, architect
Section Manager: Urban Design, Design Review, Landmarks Review
Bureau of Development Services, Land Use Services division

dfriedman

Thanks for the clarification on the Historic Resources Inventory. I have sympathy for the Ladd Tower's architects and developers and owners since they're facing public opposition to their plans at what must seem like the eleventh hour. However, it's worth noting that--had the owners not circumvented the demolition delay process by removing the Rose Friend from the Historic Resources Inventory (presumably in contemplation of developing the property)--there would have been public notice many months ago and an orderly and timely process would have been followed for discussion of the historic impact of their plans.

ws

Here!Here! dfriedman! Walked by the block tonight. Ran into a vistiting architect from San Diego who's been fighting sneaky plans by developers to develop a former military base there. He'd just got through looking at the developers's artist rendering billboard with the "Disgrace" and "-----unacceptable" stickers still attached. It was his opininion, from what he could tell by the illustration, that the tower was poor concept. I took the liberty of informing him about the plan for the Rosefriend to be demolished so this tower could be erected.

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