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Jeff B.

Went home for lunch and was impressed by Brad on the cover of Metropolis (even figured it might be a Libby article). Did not have time to digest it all(the article)but liked how they displayed Brad's conceptual drawings that have been available to the PDX public. Wonderful picture by Sally of W+K atrium, weird placement as you mention.


big pink? what is so good about it?


"big pink? what is so good about it?" kolas

That is a good question. Because it stands all by itself in that part of downtown, it's basically smooth, featureless shape offers some interesting contrast with older, lower buildings in the foreground if you walk into Old Town, or up W Burnside. But that color...whew! I should be more careful....some people apparently really like it.


God forbid someone should design and build a project on time and on budget! Instead of alwasys bashing those that actually finance and make buidlings happen, why not demand that self-proclaimed "design" architects actually pay attention to budget and schedule? If they did, they would get alot more high profile work. To ingore the reality of buildng is abdicating your duties as an architect. Or, of course, all the complainers out there could put thier own money on the table.

Brian Libby

"tt" is absolutely right that architects need to pay close attention to budget and schedule. Those who don't are simply lesser architects, even if their design imagination is limitless. However, being on time and on budget with a mediocre or crappy looking building does not keep it from being mediocre or crappy looking. I'm afraid, "tt", I distracted you from the point with my snide comment about timing and budget. My bad. But good buildings originate from the architect first. Period.

Agustin Enriquez V

quote: "But good buildings originate from the architect first. Period."

I would respectfully disagree with that; at least if you are referring to "exceptional" buildings. I think many of the buildings we collectively drool over originated with a visionary and committed owner--rather than the architect. I'm thinking here of buildings like the Salk Institute. Given that kind of owner, a talented architect can work some magic, but I don't think it works without both pieces of the puzzle; I think its much more of a collaboration. (Perhaps I'm splitting hairs here, but that's my take on it.)

Brian Libby

You know, I have to say, when I read that quote of mine isolated like that, it does seem inaccurate to say it all originates with architects. Obviously the client who hires that architect often has the kernel of the idea first. Many of today's projects, particularly larger and sustainably-oriented ones, also involve more of a team approach with the contractor and certain subcontractors virtually from the start. That's definitely a good thing in most respects. However, this also goes back to "tt"'s reaction to my original post, debating how much emphasis should be placed on being on time and on budget versus creating a great design - pragmatism versus idealism, in other words. So I kind of over-argued in favor of the architect, but did so in the context of an existing exchange. Or something...

Agustin Enriquez V

I was recalling a lecture I saw last year by Tom Kundig (one of the principals at OSKA in Seattle). He and his crew do a lot of funky gizmo-ee houses in the Pacific Northwest. During the lecture he remarked on how one of the houses he showed was nice, elegant and probably a pleasure to live in. But it didn't really have "it". The client was very, well, I think he said something like deferential. And in the end he didn't end up with a project he was in love with, primarily because of the give and take that didn't exist with his client. That was more in-line with where I was coming from.

The budget vs schedule vs design is a different one. I personally can understand both sides of that argument. Recently we had a project that we (the architect and owner) were really interested in doing, but it was obvious it wasn't going to "pencil" given current market conditions. At that point, the owner has to make a decision. My analogy to this situation has always been to buying a Ferrari. Ferraris are beautiful; they also are quite expensive. Unless you're a competitive street racer, it doesn't make a whole lot of financial sense to buy a Ferrari, but some people just want one. Same goes with owners that build buildings beyond market conditions. The architect may come up with a stunningly beautiful Ferrari building. Maybe they fall in love and simply want that building (cost be damned). But that is rather rare--both to come up with buildings that beautiful and with clients willing to swallow millions of dollars for a beautiful work of architecture.


A great building with great architecture is more than a pretty face. A Ferrari is pretty much useless downtown. A great building with great architecture can inspire ambitious people and energize the business, cultural and other aspects of the downtown environment. A Ferrari just sits there looking pretty parked in front of the Benson Hotel.

But the Ferrari only costs the person that buys it. He's the only one that pays for this creation that is of limited purpose in the city. The rest of the public ogles it a little bit, walks on and the car drives away, allowing the scene to change to something else.

In Portland, developers and architects create for our city, buildings like the Ladd Tower condos, soon to be prominently visible on SW Broadway on the southern edge of the city's key retail and business distict. Then there is the Weston Tower condos, prominently visible in a close-up view to every motorist emerging from the Vista Tunnel eastbound in what for many people may be their first impression of the city.

Those buildings will not be driving away anytime soon. Thanks to the slavish devotion of developers and architect teams in Portland to on time on budget in the absence of greater inspiration, Portland citizens and other will be paying by having to look at these undistinguished buildings for decades to come.

At least the design of Ferrari cars are conceived out of some kind of extraordinary excitement and enthusiasm to do something great.

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