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its called architectural racism, if you dont look like us dont come to our community.
forget about the architecture for one moment, a community known for design and designers runs out Apple? beyond the backward sense of trying to bring businesses to a place, one thing to run out crack dealers but to run out a company like Apple who is know for quality design, - sad comment on the state of affairs for attracting not only quailty businesses, but maybe more importantly quality design.


My understanding is that the Portland Landmarks Commission reviews any development proposals that affect designated landmarks or are located within designated historic districts.

For the review guidelines for new construction within Portland designated historic districts
See Historic Resource Protection Overlay Zone, section 33.445.320


As Brian pointed out, the Commission is to be made up of a variety of individuals so that no one special interest rules. Developers and property owners should be full aware when their properties lie within a historic district and should therefore be prepared to follow design guidelines accordingly.

The Landmarks Commission represents the only review for historic properties and districts - so it is a necessary body, especially given the amount of development in Portland these days.

It's no surprise that Randy Rapaport is critical of the Commission, he is also quoted in the same DJC article as saying we can "no longer look to the past for our answers." The interest seems to be that if a building was designed by one of the "great architects" of the past, then it should be preserved, otherwise its expendable.

Just as developers like Rapaport have an advocate for their causes at the city level in the form of the BDS, so do Portlanders in general have an advocate for preserving historic districts in the form of the Landmark's Commission.

My only wish is that they had more power, then buildings like the Rosefriend could maybe be saved.


Val, I agree and disagree with you.

I think it's great if the HLC can help preserve historic buildings. I agree the Rosefriend could use their help.

But I don't think the HLC should be weighing in on the aesthetics of a new building. I like historic architecture enough that I don't think it needs help standing on its own next to modern architecture.


I believe the intent of having the Landmarks Commision review new design in historic districs is try (often ineffectually) to prevent buildings that are poorly designed from degrading the character of a historic neighborhood. I think this is very important. It usually involves architectural monstrosities that are not thought through with respect to their context. That said, I'm not familiar with the particulars of the Apple project, but it sounds like the Commision may be straying from this intent. I think Commisioners need to understand that being "modern" can be compatible with historic contexts, if done well. Unfortunately this begins to tread on some very subjective ground, which 'design guidelines' could not begin to define. I hope that your complaints are at least brought to the attention of the Commission so that they can discover a more nuanced view of what is appropriate in hisortic districts.


I see your point Brian, but without some sort of design/esthetic guidelines in historic districts, the consequences could be devastating. I say its ok to have a mixture of modern and old architecture, just not within designated historic districts, where the goal is to maintain the historic integrity of the district as a whole.


history is made everyday.
i think the goal of the commission should be to save and preserve good historic architecture where ever they are. why not make people who live in these historic districts wear clothing appropriate for the period or not allowing them to drive cars or use cell phones. (doesn't parking a new bmw in front of the 19c house also disturb the historic integrity of the district?) the city should evolve with the times. perhaps the commissioners don't understand what make good architecture and can only see architecture as styles. by not allowing good modern architecture (that is architecture that reflects the time in which we live) is to create disneyland.


"why not make people who live in these historic districts wear clothing appropriate for the period or not allowing them to drive cars or use cell phones." This is a rather absurd comment. A historic district is created with the intent of preserving otherwise endangered built aspects of our city's past. Buildings are often the only physical elements of a community that can be preserved. The intent is not to lock an area into the past but to maintain as much as possible the physical historic character of the buildings -after everything else has changed (culture, technologies, etc). Historic districts only create "Disneylands" when their design guidelines are poor or lack enforcement.

Besides, the bottom line here is what? Apple - which is rapidly creating a bunch of chain stores across the country - wouldn't in it's eyes - lower itself to meet historic district design guidelines. Do we really need more chain stores, I mean really, you can buy Apple products throughout the city already. Perhaps it means you are cooler though if you buy from the actual Apple store. Give me a F'in break!


Some of the best cities in the world
contain a diverse mix of building styles within the same neighborhood. I agree that this is a example of " architectural racism" and HLC overstepping its role based on emotional reactions rather than concrete, logical, educated decisions.


Remember Planet Hollywood. All those Downtowns fought to put one of these stores with its distictly NEW look in the center of the city. They are a joke now. How do you re-use an apple store design in 50 years? I think anytime a building is designed to sell a specific products marketing campaign you end up with trouble. If the store was designed to maximise the use of the product from the street then we could have a winner. Apple stores are like Tiffany, the buildings they use sell an idea rather then function like a store.


"architectural racism"? I guess if we're going to start throwing out hyperbole then I can call the destruction of historic buildings Architectural Genocide. That seems to describe the aims of many in Portland these days.


right or wrong, left or right, up or down, the overwhelming fact of the matter is: no company in their right mind should be looking to put anything in northwest portland. the parking situation is completely out of control. you can drive around for hours and not find anything. putting a real store there will only piss off the neighbors and the natives, and confuse the insipid tourists.

Raymond Brigleb

This is a really disappointing development. Any suggestions on how we should take action on this, if we're unhappy with the Commission? Is Potter indeed the best person to take this to?


This is just an aside, but wouldn't the Pearl be a better fit for Apple anyway? It's a bit more upscale, they'd get more buzz, there's lots of available retail space, and they wouldn't have to deal with any of the parking problems they'd encounter on NW 23rd (which, as Ryan says, is the Achilles heel of that neighborhood). As I recall, Apple has a high-profile store in a converted old SoHo post office in New York, and the Pearl could offer them something very similar.


With the caveat of not knowing anything about this beyond what's been presented here, I can't shed too many tears for Apple.

I'd rather have a slightly over-zelous Historic Landmarks Commission than have Portland become just another corporate/condo town.

It also seems the end of this project was an inevitability. Right, wrong, or otherwise, the Historic Landmarks Commission is trying to maintain the character of the NW 23rd Neirborhood. Apple, right, wrong, or otherwise, always tries to raise its store branding above whatever neighborhood or mall it ends up in. These are mutally exclusive goals that destined this project for failure.

Finally, as others have mentioned, there's an Apple Store less than two miles away in Pioneer Place. Neither the fate of Portland or Apple rested on this store, so, like I said, few tears are being shed.

At the end of the day the only thing this means is one more warehouse demolished in the Pearl (-;

Matt House

Doesn't sound like there is a problem here to me.

Apple didn't want to change the store enough. The building commission didn't want to change the policy at all.

So Apple isn't putting a store there.
Everyone is happy, right?

Personally, I think its insane that a government entity gets to make those kinds decisions (unless its governmen-owned property). Unless someone could show that the store would have adversely affected property values, it shouldn't be an issue.

Apple stores are very well-designed. The "what can you do with an Apple store in 50 years?" comment is crazy. Apple stores are designed with an incredibly minimalistic visual aesthetic.

You could turn one into almost *anything* else.

But, again, looks like everyone got what they wanted here. Not sure what the issue is.

matt o

my only question is...what is the historic identity of NW 23rd. it definately has history, i would not attempt to argue that, but it seems to me that the history is made up of a wide variety of building styles and types that were built over a long period of time. if there is a single historic identity than i support holding onto that but it seems that the area is much more a palimpsest of multiple histories and this should continue to be added onto.


its laughable - i dont understand this decission by the commission at all becasue an apple store would have been the best thing to happen to that interesction in a long time. How do they explain the plaid pantry convenience store, pizzacato restaurant, and a noahs bagels that adorn the other 3 corners of that intersection? None of these businesses contribute to the integrity of the neighborhood and very likely cheapen value of nearby property.

Josh K

What really made the deal go south was the Apple rep's refusal to stop saying "Ory-gone".

Laurence Turner

I think that it is not surprising that the HLC squahed the proposed Apple Store - historical commisions in the US tend to think that every neighborhood and every piece of junk is something worth preserving. It's part of what I see as a deep psychological need in some people to "give" America a sense of history that it does not (yet) possess. It's a form of Euro-envy, in my opinion. I've worked in Japan, where there really is some history to preserve - and the Japanese are very good at preserving places that truly deserve it - but they don't get all hung up about their history at the expense of building something good. I agree with the comment posted by Alan above - what business is it of a historical commision to evaluate a new building IF THAT NEW BUILDING ISN'T DESTROYING A POPULAR LANDMARK? Matt's comment above is even more to the point - the Plaid Pantry is OK, but not an Apple Store? Gimme a break!

I've dealt with historical commissions in New England where they take their preservation pretty seriously and I'm sorry to see that same attitude coming to the West Coast. It is a form of elitism that can absolutely stunt a community's growth.

I hope Apple takes the suggestion of Raymond above and seek land/space in the Pearl.

Randy Rapaport

I think that Apple wanted a free-standing store which was available on NW 23rd and which would allow a more powerful expression than being on a ground floor level of a tower.

Nothing historical was being removed or destroyed with this NW store site. It seems illogical to me that they would inhibit Apple's design expression in a progressive city like Portland.

They should protect existing historical architecture. What are they protecting themselves from? They should be more supportive of creativity.


Figures a city famous for trannies and homeless people pissing on front lawns would be hypersensitive to aesthetics. If there is any real history around NW 23rd (was the Frappuccino invented there one warm summer night?), I'm sure it is hardly worth remembering.


Could be right that the Historic Landmarks Commission job description finds them out of their boundary in weighing in on Apple as they did, but their conclusions about the compatibility of Apple’s desired design with 23rd Avenue seem right. Somebody has to be watching the farm or the place would go to hell in a handbasket. 23rd already has had some out of control modern design clash problems.

The georgia stone sounded as though it might be good, but stainless doesn’t sound good at all. We still have some of those BP, now Union 76 stainless steel clad gas stations around. Take a look at that example of minimalism when you get a chance.

Tried to find the source of where I read it but couldn’t. It was possibly at a Northwest Neighborhood Association meeting by someone attempting to characterize the design for the new Apple store on 23rd Avenue. His words, paraphrasing here: “….franchise architecture”.

Also, this from the Fred Leeson article: “The debate could come down to a wordless, back-lit sign of a big white apple with a bite out of it. It would measure 5 feet 3 inches by 6 feet 4 inches”. I suppose it was at eye level too. This is typically arrogant corporate marketing strategy that sacrifices architectural aesthetic in favor of brand conditioning.

Would Holst let us see the design illustrations? They could produce a whole different set of feelings.


Whether the building on the property was "historic" or not does not matter. The property lies within a historic district of which ALL properties within said district are supposed to meet certain design requirements, when remodeling, rennovating, or building something new. The idea is to conserve the character of the district as a whole and therefore individual properties within the district cannot be taken out of the equation.

Think of the guidelines as covenants, like those in a suburban housing development or perhaps a condo development - all residents are expected to comply. In the city, there are no other covenants in our neighborhoods, so a historic district designation can act as a tool for maintaining neighborhood integrity.

Another thought. The area in question became a designated historic district, likely because residents and property owners wanted to some protections against the complete loss of neighborhood character. Therefore it is feasible that had the area NOT been revitalized in the 1980s (if I have my chronology correct), it would have been turned into who knows what? ugly apartment buildings, lots of mini malls, etc... And today the very wealth of business that has been brought into the neighbohood may not have existed, had people not decided they wanted to preserve the neighborhood. It is reasonable to assume then that if it weren't for the historic district status, the economic boom along 23rd would have taken a vastly different path - if at all. The very reason Apple wanted to be in this area is because of potential business. Business that only extists today because two decades ago people saw fit to preserve the neighborhood as best they could and one part of that revitalization was the creation of a historic district.

One final question to those who wanted an Apple store. How would you feel had the proposal been exactly the same but instead of Apple the proposed tenant was Walgreens?

Wrap it up in whatever pretty package you want and it was still just another proposed chain store.


I think the only sensible solution is to demolish all of the buildings in the area and rebuild all of the previous sructures that stood on those sites to look exactly as they did before they were so senselessly torn down by the modernists of a previous era.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." -- F. Scott Fitgerald


I cannot believe folks care one way or the other if another giant corporation gets to put a yet another shiny temple to consumerism in town. How many more stores do they need in Portland? You can ride the Max for 5 minutes and get to the one dowtown. Keep corporate junk in malls. I for one am happy for this decision. First Apple puts up a stainless steal alter then Wal-Mart can come in. All this discussion over something that you will be able to buy in a value village for $10 in ten years. It is a disgrace.


Val -- you should really get over yourself. You are clearly one of those peecee lovin' Apple haters. :-)

"One final question to those who wanted an Apple store. How would you feel had the proposal been exactly the same but instead of Apple the proposed tenant was Walgreens?"

Of course the issue is more significant to some because it is an Apple store. By last count there are some 5,251 Walgreen stores, and while they provide a monumentally important service downtown Portland would be no better or worse for one. There are, by contrast, less than 170 Apple stores. And where they have gone they have greatly enhanced the people traffic of surrounding areas. The Apple Store in Chicago (Mag Mile) is a prime example of Apple's retail effort increasing the cache and traffic of an already splendid shopping environment. It becomes destination shopping, whether you'd go there or not.

You also -- with what I imagine is sweat-dripped brow -- lament the Apple "chain". Of course it is a chain of Apple stores! You are belaboring the obvious... but I think you do so for a reason. You are attempting to paint the stores as cookie-cutter and thus unpleasing in their lack of uniqueness. You could not be more incorrect. Each freestanding store is unique in some way, according to the community they are in. Chicago, for instance, would not allow a sign and so Apple made a logo-shaped window at the top lit via the regular store lighting. Look at NY 5th Ave or SoHo stores, or Japan's, or London's, or San Francisco's, or well... you won't look. To your limited point, the mall stores are much more cookie cutter in their presentations.

I like Portland. I think it is a very cool place. Especially the Pearl, the warehouse district, and the area around the Whole Foods (can't recall the name). But your city isn't much different than others. It is too bad that Apple and Portland couldn't have bent to make it happen. Downtown Portland would have been well served.

A question to you: if this was a Walgreens instead of an Apple store would you be defending the HLC as vigoriously?

One wonders.

p.s. WS - the presence of stainless steel does not by itself qualify as minimalist design.


Come on Chuck, whether 170 stores or 5,000, Apple is omnipresent already in Portland. I can go to any Fred Meyer, etc. etc. and buy their products without ever stepping foot in one of their corporate stores. How many outlets do they need? Why not an Apple kiosk inside every Starbucks? Would that satisfy your need to consume?

By the way, I will vehemently defend the Landmarks Commission or anyone else anytime there is a need to preserve a historic property or district. I don't really care who is involved in a project, for me its about preserving our city's history.


I agree with Chuck.

I believe that a small group of people should tell us all what we should be doing. It's for our own good.


"The very reason Apple wanted to be in this area is because of potential business. Business that only extists today because two decades ago people saw fit to preserve the neighborhood as best they could and one part of that revitalization was the creation of a historic district."

I agree in principle, but isn't there an intrinsic tension between these two goals? As part of the economic revitalization, there are now TWO Starbucks on 23rd. In my opinion, they are much less attractive than any Apple store I've visited. But if you want revitalization, you have to let business in. Yet how does having two Starbucks on the same street contribute to its historic character?

I do think it's a little strange how Apple has become a bastion of modern design rather than being viewed as a consumerist enterprise. But it's hard to say how Apple wouldn't have fit in. 23rd is already full of amazingly expensive boutiques and chain-based eye-candy--Starbucks, Tully's (until recently), Aveda/Dosha, Lush, The Gap, Urban Outfitters...How is Apple different from these stores? All except Lush feature the same kind of glass-fronted modern chic vibe that the Apple stores have. Seems to me like a good environment in which to overcharge for an attractive setting.


Re Val's comment that you can buy apple computers at Freddies: As IF. Where did you get that idea. Show me one ( a Freddies) that sells macs. Get your facts straight before trolling.


Well Val...

Thank you for clarifying your vaunted position as keeper of the faith and defender of the realm. It certainly sounds like Portland is a much better city for being able to count you among its citizens. Just keep fighting the good fight against the forces of consumerism -- or just for the places you like to shop at -- and I am sure that the Rose City will be fine.

Wow... the hubris of it all.


After google-earthing the proposed site, I am wondering exactly what historic monument is being preserved here. The wonderful chinese restuarant? Or perhaps the building itself which has held a string of unsuccessful businesses because its design is effing awful, not to mention ADA non-compliant. Perhaps the Apple store would not be in keeping with the Kitchen Kaboodle building across the street which is a well known historic structure? Or the Plaid Pantry? Or the former Domino's Pizza? Great, have them do it in stone, but I've been waiting for years to see this store happen so that I don't have to drive to get what is an essential service for a business user as opposed to useless boutiques for people from Beaverton.

Portlander Walter

NW Portland Has a little of everything. The building Apple would replace is a terrible modern building. ... Pottery Barn is just around corner all they did was added a few bricks.

Last time I was in the area looking in the wireless coffee shops...80% Apple.

Sounds like the comments what to make Apple into Microsoft. (give me a break)
Apple thinks Art and design.
Sorry Organic doesn't work with Technology.

Building would work... Portland has the worst environment for business.. need a balance
Look at it school system for starters.
Portland is a better place not because of been Organic… but allowing many different shapes with the back drop of the mountains and beaches.


1. Apple could have had their store in NW. They chose not to meet historic district guidelines.

2. I'm looking at a Fred Meyer ad with I-pods all over one of the pages. Maybe not Macs but Apple products nonetheless.

3. Again, the building that currently exists at the site is not historic but the property lies within a historic district requiring new developement to meet design standards.

4. For you Chuck. Better to have hubris than to worship at the alter of those who wish to sell me a product.I prefer to make decisions for myself not be led like a lamb. But to each his own.


Val wrote: "Better to have hubris than to worship at the alter of those who wish to sell me a product. I prefer to make decisions for myself not be led like a lamb."

First, what makes you think that I worship at any alter? Bueller... Bueller... In your simplistic and absolute thinking, because I disagree with you I am the one with pro-corporate ulterior motive...while, angelic-like, you remain utterly sans motive in your pure and unswaying desire to keep all as is... or at least take a good swing at Apple. Does my support of AdBusters.org not mean anything? :-)

Second, you're one of those folks who believe that simply being a contrarian AND a cynic makes you smarter and hipper when contrasted to the dirty unwashed plebian masses, aren't you? Hopefully, you'll live long enough to be disabused of that nonsense.

Building an entire argument around what seems, according to descriptions of the 'historic' area in question, to come down to a itchy case of Apple Haterism seems sorta pathetic... even for someone as smart as you'll tell us that you are.

Ciao, bella.


Chuck, to disagree is one thing but your comments towards me have been completely filled with sarcasm, not to metion they are way off base. I have never said I hate Apple, those sorts of comments have only taken this discussion off track, which from appearances was your intent all along - stir the muck and cloud the issue.

The real issue is building in a historic district and no one should be above the regulations.

I'm sorry if I thought people might want to understand how a historic district and the Landmarks Commission work.

Frank Dufay

Nothing historical was being removed or destroyed with this NW store site. It seems illogical to me that they would inhibit Apple's design expression in a progressive city like Portland.

Hell, Randy Rappaport...let's put in some golden arches next to the Apple Store. Don't want to inhibit Ronald McDonald's "design expression."

Maybe you'd have more credibility with me if you hadn't destroyed a historic home in my neighborhood to put up (in your words) "a spaceship" that has no context to the neighborhood. The new paradigm: build out to every possible square inch (and then some...hell, its all about the money)..but, oh, no, no room for bicycle riders, delivery vans, or respect for the neighborhood.

A historic district either means something or it doesn't.


Replace the name 'Apple' with 'WalMart' on all of the posts you just read.

Then slowly re-read every post.


Now if you said "Microsoft " with "WalMart" I'd agree... I get tried of people drop WalMart on ALL companies.. Wrong

Apple has a Style .. and they push it. Wrong or right that why we have Architectural review board.
I seen some questionable approvals both ways but their do what we need.

The real issue in NW area is the property tax... It will drive the few home owners running soon... Friend has a simply house .2 story in any other area would cost 400K if that .. but NW 800K with 9K of Taxes...... (If your a renter you don't feel this as much)

My first college architectural project was NW area and that was back in 1972... funny to see the problems that were back than are still there! just a more fashionable place.

Last thought... The NW area is a Post-modern dream. Post-modern loves to experience things first than get to the details. Apple is one of the few companies that is an experience drive. Artist and designers love Apple... Engineers and bean counters side with "Microsoft"

Apple simply push to hard with a design that the board didn’t like. Can’t wait to see what finally goes in the site? It’s a ugly corner of NW…..


"Replace the name 'Apple' with 'WalMart' on all of the posts you just read.

Then slowly re-read every post."

This is a very specific issue. It isn't a WalMart invading NW with a 250,000 sq ft store and daily traffic in the (tens) of thousands, mostly car users. This is a less than 30,000 sq ft store that attracts maybe hundreds a day, and mostly people on foot or transit from nearby coffee shops and high density housing who want to chill, download music, get Apple computer support, and take one of the many educational classes the Apple store's offer.


Val - Sarcasm comes easy to me... maybe too easy, but your intital comment, which inferred that any criticism of the HLC was directly related to the fact that this was Apple, seemed to me to be peecee lovin' Apple hatin' craziness.

Yes, some people will be much more engaged because the debate is about Apple. You must understand that for folks who tend to use Apple products an Apple store is close to nirvana. It is the place a user can go for a shopping and people networking experience not possible elsewhere... even at other stores that sell Apple products. You must visit one to understand.

But others (read, the majority) don't use Apple stuff and maybe think the HLC has frankly overstepped its bounds. Those folks may not be as tied to the history of the area as you are, or they are but don't hold it in such reverence that progress should suffer. Still others see an Apple store as the final stamp of 'hipness' (whatever that means) of the area. Or, maybe they are looking for a reasonable balance regarding history and progress.

Your assumption, and demeaning, of contrary opinions as those of simple Apple lovers who do not care about the important things you care about is what set me off. I think many of the folks who have taken the time to add their opinions here care... but it is about degrees. Some care more than others and some care as much but about other things. To think otherwise is condensending.

Contray to popular belief Apple isn't a cult, but when you share an experience -- one that, right or wrong, you think is superior -- with 5% and the other 95% are always ready with insults you tend to circle the wagons.... quickly.

My apologies if you feel I went overboard in my criticisms of your position.


Something is really bothering me about this conversation. It appears to involve preservation vs. progress, Apple fans vs. non-Apple fans, and "design" vs. "eyesores." It seems like the elephant in the living room is the displacement of all but the very wealthy from the neighborhood. I quote:

"let's put in some golden arches next to the Apple Store. Don't want to inhibit Ronald McDonald's "design expression.""

So, why not put a McDonald's on 23rd? It's certainly not due to opposition to chain stores in general (witness the Gap, Williams & Sonoma, Starbucks, etc.). Could it be because these stores, and Apple, cater to rich people who can afford to pay for a "designy" store, whereas McDonald's is associated with poor folks? Why are upscale chains OK but "eyesores" (e.g., places who cater to people who can't afford to foot the bill for fancy modern architecture) aren't?

Here is another example:

"I am wondering exactly what historic monument is being preserved here. The wonderful chinese restuarant? Or perhaps the building itself which has held a string of unsuccessful businesses because its design is effing awful"

...Or maybe because the owners of those businesses couldn't afford to pay the skyrocketing leases and taxes in an absurdly gentrified area? Why is it OK (theoretically) to displace the August Moon Chinese restaurant just because it's not as physically attractive as an Apple store? That's one of the few restaurants left on 23rd! It gets comments on Citysearch like "I would recommend this place without hesitation" and "We now bring friends here from out of town." At least people with an income below X number of dollars can enjoy a meal together without breaking the bank. The cheapest thing (besides accessories) in an Apple store is probably the iPod Nano, still over $100 and it doesn't even nourish your body.

Don't get me wrong: I love my Powerbook and my iPod. But I am also extremely privileged and can afford to take sides in the upper-class computer wars wherein "Artist and designers love Apple... Engineers and bean counters side with "Microsoft."" And people who can't afford a computer are left behind by our www.society.com.

I know this is a complicated issue and I'm still trying to work out my feelings about it. Certainly nobody benefits if neighborhoods are left un-"revitalized"/gentrified. And I enjoy well-designed, attractive buildings as much as the next person. But when a neighborhood gets to the point where it's hard to find a decent/affordable meal because of all the overpriced furniture, cosmetics, boutique clothing and electronics, it is no longer, in my opinion, a vibrant center for living life. I wonder how many of the people who originially wanted to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood can still afford to live there.


Why is it OK (theoretically) to displace the August Moon Chinese restaurant? ... That's one of the few restaurants left on 23rd!

Emily: Are you sure you're talking about NW 23rd? The street where you can find Typhoon, Balvo, Sammy's, Rose's, Papa Haydn, Jo, Pizzicato, BeWon, Santa Fe Taqueria, Mio Gelato, Yuki Japanese, Fruition, Kornblatt's and all the others? Don't restaurants make up, like, 50 percent or more of the businesses on that street?


As a Goose Hollow resident who enjoys frequent urban walks with my family down NW 23rd Ave, I have to say that I am sorry to see Apple go, but completely understand the comment about brand architecture. I originally come from Oklahoma, home to the 60 foot tall store signs that soar into the air like a plastic forrest of Suessian trees. Frankly, it's ugly. One need only look at the building fascade of the new section of Washington Square Mall to understand what brand architecture looks like. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some would consider the image a consumer's Disneyland. I'm pretty sure that the residents of the Alphabet District, the neighborhood association, and the design review board wish to preserve a little bit of the ecclectic vibe. The proposed Apple Cube store is great branding. It is immediately recognizable from the outside for what it is. It's like a great big sign. But it's probably a little too shiny and new for the district. As for the comments about the district increasing in value at an insane rate, chalk that up to the successful transformation of the district into a unique shopping and dining destination (and the fact that it's close to work for many people, is in a great school district, etc.) And for those of you interested to see what people are saying about this event on a more national scale, you should view (and provide your comments to) the forum at appleinsider.com.

Mike Kaufmann

Perhaps Apple should have promised to keep a couple of passed-out drunks on the sidewalk out front to blend in with the rest of the city. Heck, we've got plenty of them here in Santa Cruz. We'll send you some!


I admire greatly apple's strong and consistent branding. Retail stores and direct sales allow them more brand control and a premium on top of the highest margins in the pc/avpod industry. The facade of the Pottery Barn, Restoration, Williams Sonoma are likewise part of their brand identities, as are the quaint and quirky storefronts up and down 23rd of their respective retailers. That being said, I think apple's brand-facade is too strong for the street. I too would vote for the Pearl with its similar ped traffic and an even better potential residential demographic. Now when apple wants to put a store on Alberta, arguably the epicenter of its customer sweet spot...

Soon we will face moving image facades. There will be design groundbreakers, they will face resistance, but eventually will become accepted.

peter grimm

Let's try something here:

Suppose we didn't have an historic landmarks commission, a design review commission, or any other commissions, but instead built the language of design excellence back into the basic design review process for all buildings. Planners would be given back the authority to make [gasp] judgments with respect to design, without having to punt to the highly politicized neighborhood associations/commissions.

Areas with uniquely defining characteristics could still apply a design overlay template with standards that exceed the base zone, thus preserving the character of the district, and giving local residents some control over the process.

Proposals that could successfully navigate both gates would tend to get built, irrespective of the quicksand of "historic" review.

Essentially, we would place the current era on a level playing field with all past eras, and all projects would be evaluated primarily on architectural merit.

Wouldn't this approach tend to give us a living, growing fabric of good design, and wouldn't this also encourage neighborhoods to take stock of their best assets and opportunities and put them to work for residents?

A little vague, but there's a kernel of an idea in there somewhere.

Frank Dufay

highly politicized neighborhood associations/commissions.

By "politicized" you mean giving citizens an actual say in how their neighborhoods develop?

Yeah, let's tell these troublesome meddlers to sit down, shut up, and let the "experts" decide what's best for us.


My feeling, especially after reading so many of these comments, is that ultimately the landmarks commission and design review are good things, but that there are also always exceptions.

For example, theoretically I'm against the idea of a lot of corporate branding on a building in most all cases. But I think Apple has shown itself to be of exceptional design excellence whether it's their computers or the stores themselves.

Somebody made the point that we wouldn't be so pro-corporate in this case if it were Wal-Mart. I don't think that's hypocrisy. I think it stems from the fact that Wal-Mart builds absolutely awful stuff and Apple builds great stuff.

I think we have the mechanisms in Portland to assure a strong urban fabric of architectural integrity. But every once in a while, the system is set it up to get things wrong. I think that's what happened in this case. But I don't necessarily think Portland's system is wrong, at least not generally. The only real systemic problem I see here is that the historic landmarks commission wasn't willing to acknowledge that an Apple-branded store should arguably have been the exception to the rule.


Yes, you should let the experts decide. They are citizens, neigboors and yes, experts.

There are valid public interests served by defining professionals as experts.

I will agree, by definition half of the experts are below average at what they do, but they have more at stake if they accept the role of an expert.

Although well intentioned, nieghboorhood boards are playgrounds for entrenched opinions of right and wrong.



Although I rarely find value in historic commisions, I feel that the failure is Apple's. I would have prefered to see them answer the commisions concerns and produce a design that served their brand. These are not mutually exclusive conditions.
Something really great could have happened.

J. Scott

I work off 22nd and Burnside at Elephant's, and on many a lunch break I have walked through the shopping on 23rd Avenue.

It's amazing the mix of people, buildings and businesses you see. Something is very unique about 23rd, something artsy, something zany; it's hip and old at the same time, classic and modern. You want Potter Barn or Levi's? Got those. You want a Starbucks? Got that, too. You want music with a special taste to it? Music Millenium is your spot.

That last comment, to me, sums up what Apple Store is (the REAL Apple Store, not the cookie-cutter retail spot the Pioneer Place location is). It's computers, yes, and well-known ones. But it's technology with a special taste- it's a speciality store, something that for the most part every store on 23rd is.

If it sounds like I'm in love with Apple products, I'm not-- I respect the technology, yes. But I'm more impressed with the stylistic, niche-specific modern touch that Apple entails, an idea that, based on what I've seen of many of the stores on 23rd, would do well to be heeded.

To me, a full-fledged Apple Store on 23rd is no more stylistically out of line than the nearby Pottery Barn (and Apple even attempted several changes based on the Historic Landmarks Commission's requirements, which to me appear very vague). It sells to a more artsy, stylistic niche, which Walter stated quite well earlier. And I've seen enough of the people who both live and shop on 23rd to know that artsy and stylish pretty much define them.

So my thoughts? Let the district decide. Since no specific historical landmark is being destroyed, I think it should fall to the people who live there to decide if an Apple Store properly reflects what the tone of 23rd Avenue should be. I feel that they would not mind too much.


I find myself thinking that a lot of recent architectural design in Portland seems increasingly suggestive of a darker, grimmer future. Then, in an earlier comment, “rob” predicts that “Soon we will face moving image facades”. Is this a good thing? Do we really want to create a Bladerunner set that we actually have to live in?

He further says “There will be design groundbreakers, they will face resistance, but eventually will become accepted”. And so may many more of us be assimilated into the great indiscriminating herd. Apply pressure strategically, and you can get people to accept almost anything, but do we really want to allow this to happen to people?

Many people regard architecture as an opportunity to create something great, that will stand on its own as art, independent of the products or services it may have been associated with.

More and more though, it seems as though people with an opportunity to create a building are merely interested in slamming the public with purchase inducing imagery, contriving to do so by erecting structures completely subordinate to this objective.

If this kind of work, somewhat memorably described by Historic Landmark Commission chair Rob Dortignacq as “Franchise Architecture”, threatens the architectural integrity of the NW 23rd Ave neighborhood, then it would seem as though the HLC, in weighing in on the design for the proposed Apple store, did exactly as they were commissoned to do.

If it really fits the description“Franchise Architecture”, does it threaten the integrity of 23rd Ave historical architecture? I suppose that’s subjective.

I have yet to see artist illustrations of the proposed 23rd Ave Apple store, but thanks to an earlier comment by “Scott” and his suggestion that we check out comments about the general issue on Appleinsider.com, I have read about the store’s design. Could be OK. Still have to see the illustrations. It might have turned out to be great architecture. Just probably not there, since it seems likely that it has absolutely no historic architectural reference whatsoever.

Isn’t that the point of Apple engineering and design? The secret of their success has been to create something totally modern and innovative that departs from any historic precedent. That formula alone would probably disqualify from NW 23rd Ave, any design that Apple would naturally produce on its own in an unimpeded environment. NW 23rd Avenue draws from the past for its architectural integrity.

Even as it becomes more and more like a big corporate shopping mall, people still actually live there. I’d guess that the HLC believes that of those who do, their aesthetic sensibility favors living next to cozy, old fashioned buildings rather than new ones that look like slick and cool I-macs.


I guess I'll add my 2cents:

I don't mind that the HLC held Apple to such high standards. However, it does bother me that a store as stylish as Apple can't get built on NW 23rd. And it makes me think there is some credibility to all to the business leaders who complain that Portland is unfriendly to businesses.

That said, if Apple really wants to put a store in Portland, they will do it. Money usually wins out in the end.


Its called you guys need a life, its a fucking store you stupid fan boys. Grow up and get a girlfriend and go play some sports.

Brian Libby

Oh Jeremy, I'm afraid your petty name calling won't stand for anything constituting real dialogue. You seem to imply those having a real intellectual conversation here are somehow immature, but I'd venture you're only exposing yourself. Too bad, because there's validity to the side of the argument you're unsuccessfully trying to occupy.

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