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edward

any new info on web-viewing?

val

"By holding on so hard to the past, I believe we, as a region, risk becoming victims of the future."

And by focusing soley on the future we risk losing everything that brought us there in the first place.

Its a two-way street.

joseph

Yeah val but I wouldn't expect to hear that tonight.

Architects love re-thinking, re-envisioning, re-defining and re-imagining everything.

Architects dislike the present and passionately hate the past unless of course its the Bauhaus or mid-century modern.

Its all about new ways of thinking and challenging conventional thinking which in this case that the public is caught up in a nostalgia for the past or so Randy will argue.

But it is the heroic new architects emerging who will free us from this evil of the past and take us to the future of "daring" and "progressive" glass box towers.

This is essentially the same argument that was made 50 years ago... rid the world of the evil 19th century architecture that is holding us back and the cause of our problems and bring on the new glass buildings and urban renewal to take us into the 'future.'

Randy

There's these poets, musicians, and religious teachers that profess "all we have is now."

Is it possible that some designers want to express that in their work? And should they be allowed that freedom? Are there systems set up to guard against such expression?
And if so, Why?

I hope that dude Gragg has some answers tonite.

ws

As it turns out, the premise of Gragg's lecture was not directed towards nostolgia surrounding architectural styles, but of the substance constituting land use principles originating from various sources around the time of SB100.

Key in raising the question of nostalgia's affect on the kinds of development seen in the metro area recent years, was his references to the ideas of John Yeon, his father, and Lawrence Halprin, designer of public fountains and plazas in the South Auditorium Renewal district.

Particularly regarding the signficance of Yeon's ideas relative to a sought after Oregon experience, he seems to be questioning the exact effect of Oregon's land use laws since SB100. He wonders what specifically the idea is behind putting much of Oregon land off limits to development.

For me, one of the most interesting ideas Gragg raised was how the UGB has likely contributed to the conversion of rich, fertile valley farmland rather than less arable ridgeland into residential and commercial development.

I think Yeon really had a sense of the natural experience that Oregon could potentially offer to generations of residents to come. This sense, recognized and embraced by other state leaders, went into into the formation of SB100, except that gradually, something substantial may have been lost in the translation.

Gragg seems to feel that some of the outcomes of the UGB are a result of blind nostalgic allegiance to preservation land use laws rather than fresh realization of land use and urban development practices born of a spirit on a level with the ideas of Yeon, his dad, and Halprin.

That pretty much sums up what I undestood what Gragg seemed to be saying.

val

ws, I agree with your points. His focus was really on land use and planning - no architecture really at all. Although I thought he spent far too long waxing on about Yeon, I did think he made an interesting comment about Oregonians tendency to be nostalgic about the successes in land use issues over the past several decades. In work that I have done researching the Mt. Hood Freeway story, I have found that today there is a definite tendency to mythologize that issue.
It also seemed he was being critical of plans such as METRO's 2040 plan, which I would also agree has some issues (i.e. massively increasing density, without needed infrastructure).

ws

Val, it doesn't bother me hearing about Yeon at length. I'm amazed with every new thing I hear about him. A very perceptive mind with a rare vision that still may be critically beneficial in making positive advances throughout Oregon's future. But hope Gragg doing so wasn't too counterproductive for you.

Yes, he may be right about Oregonians nostalgically relying on past land use successes. I think that's dangerous. It's probably partly why M37 fell into our laps.

It seems as though the nature of the ongoing need for Oregon's land use laws is complex, and has to be actively reanalyzed and applied for continually changing circumstances that face us.

The Mt Hood Freeway opt out may be mythologized, but it really was an extraordinary breakthrough. The way it happened was fascinating; A few individuals proposed something that departed in an extraordinary way from standard practice of the time. Having done so, Portland residents could understand it was the way to go. The outcome speaks for itself. Maybe an extraordinary role in this kind of process is what Gragg was thinking of in his closing remark about the upcoming generation.

I expect he was, and I hope they of the upcoming generation do just that.

Frank Dufay

he seems to be questioning the exact effect of Oregon's land use laws since SB100. He wonders what specifically the idea is behind putting much of Oregon land off limits to development...For me, one of the most interesting ideas Gragg raised was how the UGB has likely contributed to the conversion of rich, fertile valley farmland rather than less arable ridgeland into residential and commercial development.

But it is exactly that "less arable ridgeland" that turns out to be great for Pinot Noir. (As the Napa Valley was "saved" from just being another San Francisco bedroom community.)

One of the points of the Urban Growth Boundary --and preservation of nature in general-- is that we can't presume to KNOW all the answers right here and now, of what's the "best" use of any parcel of property.

ws

Yes Frank. Though his comments suggested that ideas he has about the UGB are cautionary rather than primarily approving, he didn't seem to have clear suggestions to offer about how land usage might have been managed better. It was getting close to the end of the lecture when the UGB topic came up, so maybe he ran out of time.

A couple times he made a comment to the effect of 'we're preserving all this land, but the question is what we're preserving it for'. Out of context, so it may be a bit difficult to grasp exactly what he was trying to say.

CL

One of the final remarks was that many seperate conversations had obviously spawned. I thought that this was actually a pointed critique on his somewhat scattered lecture. I enjoyed a couple of the questions more, particularly because I am not interested in the black and white debate that absurdly contends that architects are either focused solely on the future or the past.

The comments about a more organic growth of Portland, in particular, were intriguing. I was surprised to hear him speak so vividly about the UGB as protection of the landscape, be it natural or otherwise. I am new to Portland, but it seems that I have misinterperted it as safeguard of the city's.

I find that many cities are plagued by a cancerous spreading of suburban sprawl. In some cases, Portland's UGB has not allowed this fat to grow, meanwhile the muscles of building poche grow more dense and thus stronger. That is part of the desirable organic growth of a city that I have always understood.

So my question is, was the UGB never intended to do this? Was it truly just to protect the land outside?

val

ws, I have no problem learning about Yeon or Halprin or any other of Portland's important historical figures. My only concern was that I think Gragg overemphasized Yeon to the point he should have just titled his lecture "John Yeon, visionary." The lecture overall would have been more effective had he simply just gotten to the crux of what he seems to see so important - a need to revisit how our region/state/city plans for the future. I think that's a reasonable argument that he could make without the lengthy digressions.

ws

Val, under the circumstances, I wouldn't disagree with your feelings about Gragg dwelling at length on Yeon. I don't want to be unduly critical of Gragg's lecture, because I think his efforts are worthwhile, but another of my feelings about what I heard, is that he seemed vague about exactly what he was trying to say. CL's comment above, "....somewhat scattered lecture." kind of reinforces that feeling.

I think an excerpt from Frank Dufay's comment highlights the situation regarding land use that Gragg and many people may feel they're facing: "...is that we can't presume to KNOW all the answers right here and now,...", .

I think Gragg's lecture reflects his looking around at land use philosophy unique to Oregon, subsequent land use laws implemented and new ones being considered wondering just exactly what we've been doing, and what we should be doing. His comments suggest he doesn't really know, what we should be doing, but spending lots of time thinking about some of the sources for land use laws we have today is how he's getting to a point to where he may know.

His Sunday the 25th Oregonian piece more or less has to do with the same concerns expressed in the lecture. His references to Denver and Utah's efforts give me pause.

zilfondel

On Gragg-

I don't think the point is for him to be spending a lot of time thinking about it so that he can know the solutions - I think his point was that he has realized that we have all been dogmatically following a set of rules to 'protect the land,' yet, as CL seems to have discovered, are NOT geared towards turning the cities of Oregon into more people-oriented, vibrant and beautiful environments, but merely to meet a few land-use goals:

-protect the farmland as farmland
-keep the forests there
-keep cities in little urban areas that are allowed to grow as soon as they "run out of land"

This land-use system was created because a few visionaries in the 1970s didn't want to see the farms and open space in Oregon turned into subdivisions, and the subsequent destruction of the environment.

Thus, it was an aesthetic and environmental decision - yet the flip side of the coin, improving the environment WITHIN the cities, was never truly addressed.
Sure, Portland has been on the ball pretty well, but essentially none of the other towns & cities in Oregon have been: from K-Falls to Astoria, Bend to Corvallis, pretty much every town is still adding land to the UGB and developing them suburban style, with no thought to any considerations beyond aesthetics, rainwater and traffic management in cul-de-sac land.

This is very shortsighted and leaves a lot to be desired in our cities, which is begging a rethinking.

Really, it is both a philosophical soul-searching and pragmatic approach which is (desperately) needed - which must be done LOCALLY within each town and in conjunction with people who understand architecture and planning, otherwise our cities and towns will continue to lose their character and destroy the environment, small bits at a time.

If growth continues with no thought as to how it will be integrated and enhance our communities, this state will (slowly) continue to go to shit.

What Gragg was trying to do is raise awareness of it and democratic discussion, not hand out a prepackaged one-size-fits-all solution for the sheeple to 'implement.'

zilfondel

Furthermore...

Gragg used a poetic and historical approach to his speech, in order to tie in our collective past to the possibilities of the future.

What he perhaps should have done was outline an example of places that grow without any regard to history, time, or place - which generally are the 'soulless suburbs' - that no one really cares about.

Which is the impetus for a whole host of passionate people in Oregon who want to keep Oregon as it is, yet still accomodate the growth that is happening and maybe even leverage the new development to make Oregon EVEN BETTER.

If you don't think development can ever have a positive impact, then you should visit Germany: a country the size of Oregon with 40 TIMES the population of our state (they have 85 million people). Yet it is still largely a very beautiful place, with cities that are faaaaar more environmentally sustainable and pedestrian friendly than anything we have here.

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