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I like the Seattle skyline especially at night, but I think Portland is (gasp!) more succesful at street level (agree with Brian, very pleasant). I think a great skyline is not a prerequisite for a great city (see most european capitals). Having said that, one or two boldly designed 50-70 story downtown towers would work wonders for the Portland skyline (but these do not grow unless you fertilize with a lot of money!)

The Old Town has a lot of potential, especially along Naito Parkway facing the waterfront park, what a missed opportunity for a row of residential units creating a boulevard atmosphere!

Boora-ville would be booring!The north end of the Pearl is a blank canvas, I hope someone unleashes their imagination there, although the preliminary (mostly indicating massing) sketches are not encouraging to this observer.

Matt Davis

"John Carroll, a pioneering Pearl District condo developer who previously was responsible for The Gregory, the Chown Pella Lofts and The Elizabeth in that neighborhood as well as The Eliot downtown, reportedly has proposed to the City to replace its downtown garage at SW 10th Avenue and Yamhill Street (right near Central Library and between two MAX stops) with 25 stories or more."

It's my understanding Carroll is working with the mayor's office on this, but that the PBA has also been applying pressure.

The parking structure serves the doomed shopping emporium, The Galleria, directly opposite, which according to PBA vice president of downtown services, Mike Kuykendall, has experienced problems with crime as well as "urination and defecation" since time immemorial.

Why the renovation now? Because the Galleria is about to host a new Brooks Brothers, which according to PBA boss Sandra McDonough, could have a "galvanizing and important effect on the West End of Downtown." Although people are less likely to buy a Seersucker if they've just seen someone crapping in the car park.


The new parking garage will be underground, with an emphasis on crime prevention through design. But I'm very interested in what they're going to build on top of it. A permanent day access center for the homeless, perhaps? Not likely...

Matt Davis

Sorry, that link didn't work. I've re-entered it here as my URL.


Matt, thanks for sharing your coverage with us. The angle in your story was different from mine: the affordability issue versus the aesthetics of design. Obviously both are important. I seriously doubt this project or developer will be the one delivering more affordable condos to downtown, but I'd love to start a separate conversation about that whole issue too.


Both affordability and aesthetics are important but I suspect they are incompatible. I am also miffed I cannot afford to live in Manhattan because it is the perfect urban setting for my taste in every way, but I am not going around making the issue of my inability to afford it the number one philosophical crux in urban developement.
How can you have a discussion on architetural aesthetics when at every turn the discussion veers off to whether the disenfranchised, or the so called middle class can afford the whatever design or idea that is proposed. I agree with Brian that this should be a separate discussion, unless we all want to aim for the lowest common aesthetic denominator, in order to accomodate the (important but architecturally irrelevant) issue of the worsening gap between the haves and have nots in this country.


Brian brings up a good point about developers and the architects they use. I think to over simplify things those larger architecture firms can produce under challenging schedules at lower margins which in the end produces more profits for the developer. If you look at the Pearl most of the condos have been built by Ankrom Moisan. No offense to AM, and this is strictly my own opinion but there designs are not very good.

Alison Ryan

Two things: John Carroll does have Ankrom Moisan working on the 10th and Yamhill project (he's had them do concepts, at least).

And he also says he's planning "not necessarily high-end condominiums, but taking a look at what is the demand in the housing market." He says he wants to get a mix of nonprofits, with perhaps an alternative school, as commercial tenants in the building. I don't know what all this means, exactly, but I don't think he does either at this point...there's still a lot of talk ahead.


Personally, I'd rather see Tom Moyer put his 37 story building in place of the 10th and Yamhill parking structure, and give us one more park block on the Zell Block. Kind of a mirror of Fox Tower: a huge tower with a 1.5 block underground parking structure overlooking a half block park.

Sadly, Moyer's project is probably too far along to go back and start swapping land parcels now. Too bad; two adjacent half-block parks, properly designed, could make for a great public space.


or we could keep the zell block. a mirror of the fox tower? why would you want to look at that thing twice?

personally i don't have a problem with developers using the same firms as long as they are good firms, like gbd, sera, etc. one of the best things about pdx is how "green" the city is and using local firms offers us a particular identity, as well as allowing us to be green on another level. these firms are getting better every year. i would rather see a city built by portland architects than have outsiders come in and leave their misguided mark on our town, obvious examples need not be mentioned.

and above all, i say preservation preservation preservation.


perhaps you have been there that long, but TVA is a local architecture firm, like it or not...and GBD and sera, being good, are you kidding? Green does not equal good, there is a lot more too it than that. meeting leed standards is pretty easy, with the right client and budget, making a beautiful building however is not. i'm not saying TVA always makes beautiful buildings, but they come a LOT closer than gbd and sera.


the problem is that i have not been there for a while. i have been away for three years and am merely trying to stay in touch with my city as best i can.

i was responding to two different points. i guess my obvious example was not so obvious.

my bias toward sera and especially gbd is due to their success in merging preservation and green building. this is not an easy task since the secretary of interior's standards for historic preservation can be in conflict with green building practices. but sera has done this and gbd designed the armory rehabilitation and it was (i'm told) the first platinum certified preservation project in the country - and a beautiful one i might add. these are the types of projects to which i am referring.

it is quite rare that an architect gets to design on a blank canvas. tva being a planning firm as well may have more opportunities to do so. but when it comes to the park blocks - two of the most intimately-scaled high traffic streets in the city, the pedestrians should be a high priority. tva was minorly successful (elephant's) with the fox tower and the drawings i've seen for the zell block are less than stellar. once these buildings are gone, the old VC will be just a memory. you can't re-create that kind of ambiance out of steel and glass.

though the course for this block may not be changed at this point, i think it is imperative that developers first cast their eyes on properties that don't contain historic buildings or otherwise long-standing portland institutions. perhaps that's the advice i would like to give them in response to brian's original solicitation.


If you want affordability, we could always build commie blocks. I happen to think they are a bit more aesthetically pleasing than your typical Levittown.

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