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Portlander

"top international architects"

You mean the same 10-15 architects that are the only architects ever considered for any major project worldwide?
Rem Koolhaas/OMA
Tadao Ando
Zaha Hadid
Renzo Piano
Norman Foster
Steven Holl
Frank Gehry
Herzog & deMeuron
Antoine Predock
Rafael Moneo
Thom Mayne
Daniel Libeskind
Diller & Scofidio
Jean Nouvel
and now Brad Cloepfil

jim

Anyone think the county's decision to build in front of the view of the future Equity Office tower might catalyze new negotiations about building the courthouse on that block instead?

m. daby

he would probably be on that list but...give us Santiago Calatrava

Richard

I wonder what's going to happen to the old courthouse when the new one is built. I doubt it could simply be rented out to other agencies or businesses without first undergoing extensive rehabilitation. I'd hate to see it stay vacant or get torn down.

The courthouse is pretty dumpy inside now, but if it were properly renovated--which would involve undoing the terrible remodels and expanisions it has been subjected to over the years--it could live on as as handsome and useful historical structure.

Frank Dufay

The courthouse is pretty dumpy inside now, but if it were properly renovated...

Let the McMenamin's at it!

ws

I've heard that some people are aware of a proposal studied years back, in which the courthouse would become the base for a new tower.

student abroad in nyc

Portland is a ripe ground for a signature building (see list of 15), but there is also a phenomena that exists here that needs attention. The sum of portland's whole is greater than its components arguably. The designer doing a courthouse, museum, or a hybrid of any sort (courthouse/tower) needs to be incredibly aware of this humble "image of the city" that we posess.
Signature buildings are nice but become quickly dated and their concepts diluted by inefficiencies. I recommend strongly that these projects be presented as terminal studios to university of oregon students, thus creating a catalogue of researched propositions that could generate a list of goals for the city and the project(s).

kd

We should welcome a Master Architect as much as we welcome great art in this city.

Santiago Calatrava built a bridge in Redding, California (Redding can do this but Portland can't?) - and besides the incredible love and devotion the citizens have for that structure, it's a pure joy to see the looks on the faces of the children of that city.

They never thought of a bridge that could look like that, nor where they so aware of the world around them as they became with a gentleman from Spain come to build in their own backyard.

http://www.turtlebay.org/sundial/sundial.shtml

Brian

I wanted to address the comment by 'Portlander'. I agree that it would be boring to just choose a famous architect because he/she is famous. It's easy to get cynical about people like Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry or Rem Koolhaas since they seem to be ubiquitous sometimes. What I'm arguing for is a high level of architecture. Maybe the commission ends up going to someone who's a superlative architect but one still looking for to make his/her name internationally. Maybe it's someone who's already a household name. The point is that we should refuse mediocrity or blandness. We don't need a courthouse that calls attention to itself, but we ought to accept no less than a beautiful, inspiring and functional building.

Alex

As a NYT free-lancer, you of all people should know that Arthur Gregg Sulzberger is the son of the guy who pays you: NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger. Just a head's up...

raya

unless the the budget for the courthouse will be $400/sf or higher, those people you listed will never designed a building in this town. The lack of commitment or pride or just plain old cash limits the quality or excellence we are asking for. sometimes,Architects are only as good as there clients allow them to be.

I aslo believe in competition but not the invited kind (selecting well proven blah blah). Europe has a good system of allowing younger architects be part of the competitions. Zaha is a good example of one who benefited with this process.
""We don't need a courthouse that calls attention to itself, but we ought to accept no less than a beautiful, inspiring and functional building."
Brian, this statement is a little bit contradictory to your prior statement of Morphosis building would be a good idea. It will be a self conscious building if Mayne Designs it.

Again, let Calatrava stick to bridges!!

student abroad in nyc

Either way, any of these projects will have to have a local architect from the shortlist Brian mentioned already. Steven Holl just lost his last commission for one and who needs two morphosis ones in one state? What is a sustainable court house? What is sustainable justice? Could be interesting approach to developing a concept specific to portland that could generate something unique, perhaps even more so than 60-year old starchitects signatures on our sky-line...

ADH

This isn't the first time you've brought this up.
Some people like to be called by three names (Henry David Thoreau), some by two (Walt Whitman) . Some like you to know their middle initial (William S. Burroughs), some only give thier first initinals (E.E. Cummings). They're just the names they want to be called by, let it go.

Brian

You're right, I'm being silly about the three name thing. My bad. Sometimes the joy of not having an editor while blogging comes back to haunt me.

And I also agree that Thom Mayne doesn't fit my request for a building that doesn't call attention to itself. However, the awe I get seeing some of Mayne's work, such as the new Eugene courthouse, remind me that I really hope for something soulful and inspiring in such an important public building. Of course it should work well for its inhabitants first, and it should be sustainable as well. I think that should go without saying. But damn it, I want it to be beautiful too!

Ann

Raya's suggestion is fantastic. Why not look more closely at the European system which supports young, new architects - and thus ENCOURAGES design innovation! In my opinion, this strategy is not only healthier for the architectural profession, it's more inline with Portland's values.

I'm so tired of reading about how the next building in Portland needs to have a well-known name stamped on it. When is this attitude going to be seen for what it is: just a modern, commercial variation of what happened when our forefathers decided to build a neo-classical Washington DC.

Bob R.

For those interested in what a modified Hawthorne bridge ramp _might_ look like, I've created a Photoshop mock-up...

Click for Full-Size Image

- Bob R.

ac

Raya's suggestion, while admirable and one I'd vote for, is flawed in that American culture doesn't value design (and Portland culture doesn't either [if I can be that bold]).

By this, I mean that Portland will put out a call to arms instead of welcoming arms as soon as a realistic budget is unveiled. Americans & Portlanders don't believe they have to pay for design labor, just design product (even then they balk at pulling out the wallet).

Setting aside all the free work that goes into a competition itself, there's still a lot of effort required to produce a unique building. Learning how to make something happen and then teaching a contractor how to do it requires time (in other words, $$$). Then, the fabrication process needs to be invented by a subcontractor that never did this sort of work before (more $$$).

If innovation were free, we wouldn’t need to lament this state of affairs in architecture in the US.

Unfortunately, merely getting young, thoughtful designers to the table is only the first part of the battle…getting fiduciary buy-in from the public is the real issue. Good luck with that, especially in Portland where everyone believes they have a right to weigh in on things.

I’d suggest that it would actually be easier to get innovative design from a private client…

Bob R.

Good luck with that, especially in Portland where everyone believes they have a right to weigh in on things.

Don't we?

I mean, everyone may not be _correct_, and everyone may not have a particular legal right at a given moment to stop or change something, but when did we give up the right to weigh in on things, especially publicly financed projects?

- Bob R.

Brian

Just FYI, the poster called ADH is commnting on a remark that I later deleted about people using their middle names in bylines.

ac

The public can say "yes I want to pay for starchitecture," but i guess the snob in me doesn't believe that the public should have a direct choice in the actual design.

[there i've said it]

kd

Right on AC - I wouldn't ask Kenny Scharf to put this on or take that off his work, nor would I demand Richard Serra do his work in Stainless Steel because I like it better than the steel he uses. (Or put a little awning on it so we don't have to use our umbrellas when it rains...)

Let's be a city that supports the freedom for designers, and inspires the world with out commitment to what talent can bring on its own.

ws

In city related work, artists and architects bear a burden of responsibility for a certain accountability to the public's needs and tastes.

Of course, this can go too far, such as in revisions city council obliged Michael Graves to make in his design for the Portland Building that diminished its exterior visual impact and turned the interior into a bunker-like experience.

Can't think of the city's name, but after having been sited in a plaza for quite awhile, a Richard Serra sculpture was resoundingly rejected by the city and finally removed because many, many people found it to be so oppressive and unattractive.

Also, read the Friday, Nov 30(?) issue of the Tribune about the dragon sculpture in Old Town that's taking big time heat.

keith.d (kd)

Actually the Serra sculpture was never removed, although there was a bit of an early uproar and call for its removal. (Many didn't understand the need to experience the work on foot, rather than from the car at 30 MPH.)

Since its early criticism its become a distinct part of St. Louis urban culture.

http://stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/parks/parks_div/serra.html

Art challenges us, architecture should too.

ws

Keith, thanks for the heads up on the Serra work. Your comment prompted me to check out what I was trying to remember. Turns out I was thinking about Tilted Arc, in Federal Plaza in New York City. Well, it seems as though employees of the building were the critics that led to the sculpture's demise. Check out the URL below.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/flashpoints/visualarts/tiltedarc_a.html

keith.d (kd)

I'm not sure that it makes your point though still. Those in favor of it's removal (the vast but politically well connected minority) accused the work "of attracting graffiti, rats, and terrorists who might use it as a blasting wall for bombs."

The accountability to the 'public's needs and tastes' fell to an inner circle within the GSA, and they resorted to using the terrorism card in order to wield their power against it.

It wasn't the city, or the people, it was the government who censored that project.

(Harvard Law quotes: "despite overwhelming local and worldwide support for its remaining at that site."

http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/martin/art_law/tilted_arc.htm

It has become an example of government meddling in the creation and establishment of art. Portland Building is perhaps, you may be pointing out an example of government meddling in the creation and establishment of architecture.

My point merely is we need a more supportive, freer environment in order to get great architecture.

Perfect example: Frank Gehry was almost fired from Disney Concert Hal:

"FRANK GEHRY: [Diane Disney Miller] stood by it and she, I didn't know her. I, I'd met her but I didn't know her, and she stood by it because she saw the attack on my work as being similar to what happened to her father in the early days when the studios used to beat him up, and she related it to that and she said I'm not going to let that happen."

Zufur

"They also accuse it of attracting graffiti, rats, and terrorists who might use it as a blasting wall for bombs."

Boy, I'm glad they removed that metal sculpture. I'm scared to think of it being used to amplify a nuclear bomb!

My god, what idiocy. Is it really illegal to shoot people who hold such dim intelligence?

Bob R.

Portland Building is perhaps, you may be pointing out an example of government meddling in the creation and establishment of architecture.

How is it "meddling" if the same-said Government is the actual paying customer? Perhaps it was short-sighted or incorrect judgement, but doesn't the client, by being the reason for a projects very existence in the first place, have a right to "meddle"?

- Bob R.

Bob R.

Boy, I'm glad they removed that metal sculpture. I'm scared to think of it being used to amplify a nuclear bomb!

Where on earth did you pick up the word "nuclear" in relation to the supposed fear of a terrorist bomb? Are you not familiar with the more "conventional" means of bombing which plague numerous parts of the world?

My god, what idiocy. Is it really illegal to shoot people who hold such dim intelligence?

First you criticise them for being too afraid of death-by-terrorism, now you want to shoot them.

Just sayin'

- Bob R.

ws

Without knowing more about the whole situation with Tilted Arc, I also am not sure it makes my point, which was:

“In city related work, artists and architects bear a burden of responsibility for a certain accountability to the public's needs and tastes.”

One thing is for sure, and that is that in the planning/design process for Federal Plaza in NYC, something went disasterously wrong. How could anybody possibly want that to happen in their city? That's why I favor an as evenly, fairly and representative design review process as is possible to manage. Somebody has to take the burden of responsibility for seeing that the public's needs and tastes are addressed.

keith.d (kd)

"How is it "meddling" if the same-said Government is the actual paying customer? Perhaps it was short-sighted or incorrect judgement, but doesn't the client, by being the reason for a projects very existence in the first place, have a right to "meddle"?

Actually I would consider the citizens of the city to be the client. As such, I'd have more faith in the Master Architect than a bureaucracy.

ws

This is an example of how planning and design review can get very complicated. Without looking at the situation very closely, how can we know who was rightfully authorized to determine the fate of this particular part of NYC's infrastructure, Tilted Arc?

The seemingly clandestine way the feds removed Tilted Arc, whatever the reality may have been, carries the appearance of contempt on their part for the interests of NYC residents and the city.

m conroy

whatever gets built it should embrace the waterfront and not look like all the other hulking boxes that line front avenue.

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