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St Paul's in London compared to the Rosefriend Apartments? Have we gone mad?
If Portland is to compete with London it should be craving and championing new architecture (Portland being only 150 years old) and forget preserving what it does not have (significant old architecture). Listening to you guys talking about NW 23rd as if it is Rome's Centro Storico (historic core) is amusing.
London (New York, Paris, etc) cannot (and should not) be compared to Portland. There is a vast difference of scale, not only in terms of size but (as I have observed before)of significance. To the extend Portland creates "content" ie pioneering "green" bulding (and boasting about it)or an outddors oriented lifestyle, it can claim a plce among types of urban living. But to directly be compared to a cultural and financial behemoth is unfair.
Have fun, I am jealous you are there!(Greetings from the very tiny but chic Pearl, where "real Portlanders" never venture, I heard)


It's natural to compare your own city to great cities of the world. That's not to say doing so implies your own is neccessarily equal or superior. In some respects, great cities, are inevitably the models people think of when seeking to build and strengthen their own.

I've never been to London, or even across the Atlantic. It must be quite and experience.


"...yet it feels like they're using space well here because the homes are right up against each other... I'd like to see this housing format used more often in Portland."

Unfortunately the British are boneheads when it comes to land-use planning. I’ve never had to drive to the grocery store until I moved to Britain, where now we must rely upon out of town hyper-markets for anything more than milk and newspapers. Essentially we have density without proximity.

And there is often no architectural variety along a street of terraced houses, like you'd find in DC or New York.

That said, yeah, London is a great place to visit. And admittedly I live in another English city.


Have you noticed how well 100% residential works in the more urban areas with retail only on the main streets? Our penchant for mixed-use (almost everywhere here) is not sustainable.


mixed use everywhere?

i would say the dominant form in portland is single family home with small lot. peppered with mixed use on main arteries, and a medium sized downtown area.

but back to london, i think people get excited about london as a city because of all the monuments and the history. basically ZONE 1. the majority of london is a really terrible and banal city.


Mixed use is not sustainable? That is a pretty idiotic comment, particularly considering that the only part of town Portland requires mixed-use is in downtown itself!

However, even then the Benson Tower doesn't have ground floor retail, but instead will have a cascading waterfall feature.

We're pretty lucky that downtown has as much retail activity as it does - mixed use works very well; just go visit a few other cities on the continent before jumping to any 'European' conclusions. Most people in Britain I talked to considered themselves halfway to America, as far as their cities were concerned.


I love your note about enclosed gardens and conservatories. I would settle for more greenhouses in urban Portland, though I can't make any practical arguments for them. Remembering my one visit into the demolished Clarence Walker greenhouses on Mississippi makes me tingle. I guess the zoo aviaries sort of count (but nothing like Kew gardens).

If you make it to Oxford, please let us know if, judging by the bust there, Christopher Wren was a dead ringer for Barry Manilow.


Witold Rybcinski's book, The City, I think is the one, has a section about how London rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666. Good ideas were submitted by qualified people to take advantage of the opportunity created by the destruction to improve the city's layout, but basically, Charles II couldn't get it together well enough to use those ideas. So London rebuilt on the same old twisty street grid. Maybe that's part of the charm that grabs visitors there.

I really would like the Portland area to have at least one serious, reasonably close in estate or country garden and a major scale conservatory. I'm thinking of something that I believe Longwood Gardens and the Brooklyn Botanic have. Big, substantial, well funded and attended.

Maybe somewhere around Hillsboro or West Union would be a good place to build one from scratch. Lewis and Clark College more or less was one. A big conservatory built there would probably interfere with college activities. Location's tough too. Silverton seems just too far down the road.


I also have the good fortune of spending time in UK and London now. One of the things that has most impressed me as my wife and I have been walking through the city and neighborhoods is the nice job many of the architects are doing of integrating and relating modern design with the historical buildings. We have seen alot of really sweet modernist additions to older buildings that respect the original and add new design sensibility. We have seen this both in the city center and strolling through neighborhoods in west london and brighton.
I feel Portland can be doing a much better job of bringing together new and old in ways that relate to each other than we are doing so far.

Fred Leeson

Brian, your comment about glassy buildings made me think of the "space frame" (as it was originally called) at the Portland General Electric headquarters (now World Trade Center) facing Naito Parkway. I've always wondered why that space isn't more active and interesting than it is. I think somebody tried a coffee cart there years ago and couldn't even make THAT work. What a shame. Bob Frasca was very proud of it when it was built. This was a case of, "If you build it, they WON'T come." I keep hoping somebody can make something of it. Frasca, if I recall, said the original idea was to extend it across Front (now Naito) and step down into Waterfront Park. Maybe that would give it the circulation it needs.


man, i love that space frame. good location for photo shoots, as no one actually goes up there on weekends or after 5pm.

why doesn't it work? it doesn't get you anywhere special except if you are going to work.


Speaking of glassy buildings, this from Alex Ross music blog about the new concert hall planned for Hamburg, Germany. Why cannot Portland plan one of those flights of fancy (OK this is a rhetorical question)

The Flying Dutchman Moors

Hamburg — that's the Free and Hanseatic City, not Hamburg, NY — is getting a dramatic new concert hall, which will look like a glass galleon that has foundered on a warehouse. The design, by the Swiss firm Herzog & De Meuron incorporates a number of current architectural gambits. It invokes nautical imagery, as do Frank Gehry's new IAC headquarters on the West Side of Manhattan and Santiago Calatrava's Milwaukee Musem addition. It anchors (sorry, boating words are hard to avoid) a new harborfront district, as does Diller Scofidio + Renfro's new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. And it recycles an Industrial Age relic - in this case a disused 1960s warehouse - into a cultural showcase, as does Herzog & De Meuron's own Tate Modern in London.

Hamburgers will enter the maw of the brutalist brick warehouse from the long pier that juts into the harbor. They will then be wafted up through the structure to a vast window that offers a glimpse of the view to come, then turn a corner and ascend to a vast public plaza that sprawls across the warehouse roof or beneath the new structure's bottom, depending on how you choose to look at it. The hall itself is just a kernel of the complex, which includes an apartment building and a hotel, all sheathed in milky glass!

Link for pics (scrol down a couple of posts) www.therestisnoise.com


Hard to exactly tell about the concert hall from just the one exterior shot. Interior looks good. But why doesn't Portland aspire to more imaginative architecture?

If you're interested, also check out the pics posted on the following website, post 53:


Might not some of those ideas be good for Portland?


There's one glassy building in portland I'm quite fond of, I just wish it wasn't a Starbucks. Yes, the Starbucks in Pioneer courthouse square is a great space and a nice glassy building.

Thurman Chandler

Yes, we need to see more of our rain and grey skies! Who will clean the moss off the windows, though?

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