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I've long thought that Meier & Frank warehouse would make the perfect base for a spectacular, iconic Norman Foster tower. But I agree, Brian: Cleopfil would be a great choice too. It's just insane that nobody ever thinks to commission him to do something dramatic in the oh-so-hip Pearl.


The M&f has one of the most amazing elevators [for trucks , 15 x 30ish and smooth as glass] in the city. I hope it can be saved and celebrated , a moving coffee shop or such.
And please can we get over Cloepfil , an adequate and fortunate guy , a real talent in PDX who can and has done beautiful work is Jeff Lamb. How about giving him a Big commision?


I think the only thing developers like less then the attitude of Cloepfil (doesn't anyone remember the article several years back where he said he didn't want to work in Portland, he's so cool) are the lawsuits that Jeff Lamb brings to a project. Perhaps Bill B wasn't around during Jeff's first tenure at Sienna, when every building leaked like a sieve and had a 2 yr life expectancy...so many materials, such little ability.


thank you for truth. it is such a bore to constantly hear about the utltra talent not getting the work. maybe it is by choice - brad does not seem to be hurting for commissions, and i have heard many times over that the struggle with the ego can cause friction with projects with intense schedules and BUDGETS. why beat up on the other guys that seem to be working their asses off to get the work done? maybe GBD can't pull off that baby butt smooth concrete, and i deep down hope they would, but i am not sure this renovation has the same caliber as the W/K, so to compare is setting the stage for failure - where W/K fails, hopefully the M/F will succeed in striving for a building that is a moniker of sustainable design. The next tour stop for those trying to learn from urban design (BBlocks) and sustainable design (M/F). Go for it and lets try to support rather than crying about sour grapes.


I didn't realize the architects were going to be the ones pouring the concrete. Anyone know who is going to be the contractor for the M/F building?


the contractors didn't do the W/K quality on their own - maybe they di pour it - haha/touche. my understanding was there was a very specific mix to the concrete, and a consultant brought on board to help "specify" the concrete desired. any architect out there can speak to how often they get the W/K concrete - umm NEVER! For M/F - i believe i heard Skanska.


I totally agree with the recent posts. I think G/E and Brian are off track making comparisions with this new renovation to the W/K project.

First of all this project is a market driven speculative office building and W/K had a single, dedicated tenant with high aspirations and deep pockets These two projects might share some overal formal relationships althoug there is no way they will share the quality of construction.

I rarely design architectural poured concrete anymore other than the highest end projects and even then the product is crap...ends up patched, parged, blasted or something. It's even hard to get good quality precast concrete.

As to the complaining about why doesn't Brad get a chance well he has had some and seems to have been a poor fit ..probably based on poor performance. He has plenty of good work. As for Jeff L. the other posters are right on...his work hasn't stood the test of time and most people including clients I know can't put up with him.

GBD will do a good work-man-like job making this project highly sustainable and probably a good fit in the neighborhood. It probably won't be a design award winner. It probably will be a huge success from the developers point of view which is why they do all of G/E's work. They are really good at what matters to the client.


I Cant wait! I drive by almost every day and always wish & wonder when something would happen to that building.

Brian Libby

I think I must not have expressed myself as well as I'd have liked in this post.

People seem to be getting the message from me, "GBD is no Brad Cloepfil". That's not what I meant to say.

GBD is an excellent firm, and I want to give them all the props they deserve for a host of sustainable buildings that are the cornerstone of the Pearl and South Waterfront.

However, the press release I received compared the upcoming M&F project to the W+K building, and Gerding-Edlen was also the developer. I realize they won't have the same lavish budget as Wieden + Kennedy spent on their building. What's more, you can't fault GBD and Gerding for spending what money they have differently - instead focusing it on making the most efficient building they can, rather than on very expensive concrete subcontractors from Japan, or whatever.

I also think that, more so than the W+K building, the original M&F structure is wonderful on its own. Merely cleaning it up and throwing some desks in there would be an exciting development.

Having said all that, though, I can never completely abandon the simple fact that when I walk into the W+K building, I always say to myself, "Wow!" It's an incredible work of architecture. And that's significant. No way around that. It's why I have an architecture blog!

The M&F building will be very, very nice, I'm sure - both for the city and its occupants. More than nice, it will be admirable. And that's great! We shouldn't ask Gerding and GBD any more than that.

It's just that, if they're going to compare the upcoming M&F project to W+K, as they did, it inevitably brings into question the effort to design and build great, beautiful, matchless architecture. I don't expect that to be the goal with M&F, at least not the principal one. And that's totally understandable. Maybe the best thing is not to have compared it to W+K in the first place. Which puts the honus on me, but also them.


Just a thought on the comments on Jeff Lamb's work , [and most lead designers]. Without knowing about Jeff's project teams , it seems unlikely that he personally detailed the roof/walls etc alone. Most good sized projects rely on group work , eh..


Buildings are the work of many hands....so credit for buildings success and failure can be spread to all team members.

It's also no accident that many, if not most of Jeff L's early projects have suffered from severe problems...many inherent in the focus on so much complexity created with such low budgets.


It seems unlikely that Jeff Lamb will get any great projects (in this town)as his prior company owes money that he has never reconciled (he never addressed the legal judgement that was served to his prior company). I know a number of people that he still owes money to.


It seems unlikely that Jeff Lamb will get any great projects (in this town)as his prior company owes money that he has never reconciled (he never addressed the legal judgement that was served to his prior company). I know a number of people that he still owes money to.


M/K II? that's pretty damn insulting. even if the developer was the first to make the comparison, it seems ridiculous that the initial assumption would be that the meier and frank renovation would be inferior. why all the speculation on how great the project won't be before there are even any sketches? can't we just celebrate the home-town architects who want to help make our city more beautiful and energy efficient? i am merely excited to hear that the meier and frank building will finally be repurposed - it has been ignored for far too long. perhaps gerding-edlen continues to use gbd because they actually deliver. and let's not forget how attractive humility can be.


Weeee, an office building! How exciting! Do other cities architectural inteligentsias get excited about office buildings? An atrium in the middle with natural light, very original.I like Carlo's idea, a Norman Foster tower with M+F as the base. Or a Jean Nouvel tower.Now how did I think of that:
"A new 75-story tower designed by the architect Jean Nouvel for a site next to the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown promises to be the most exhilarating addition to the skyline in a generation. Its faceted exterior, tapering to a series of crystalline peaks, suggests an atavistic preoccupation with celestial heights. It brings to mind John Ruskin’s praise for the irrationality of Gothic architecture: “It not only dared, but delighted in, the infringement of every servile principle.” (NY Times)

I may be veering off subject a bit, but it seems the thread is dying.

Or imagine a multiuse, 250 milion Concert Hall/Opera house with a soaring lobby, an intersting glass top and the exterior of the M+F preserved.

I suppose it's better than building more lofts, but an office building and retail, sigh.

When is something "sexy" going to be built in Portland? Why do we always have to be the good wife, with virtuous, sensible, buildings and not the mistress with the big you know what...


amen, the m+f remodel by gbd is about as interesting as a stubbed toe


Agreed , an office use is short sighted, since it is currently in the mix , how about a new high-rise High School with an Arts Core.


I'm not saying it is short-sighted. I think the Pearl will benefit from additional office space. I just don't think the result will be anything to write home about. Will it be good? Probably.


how about a chocolate factory full of oompa loompas! hell, how about a big amusement park inside the building with a big tall crystal hat. it would be the biggest building in portland.! wouldn't that be fun? first the building is historic, so if you want to preserve that historic fabric, or at least benefit from the tax incentive, then you have to pretty much touch it lightly - a tall big building poking out of the top is not in the spirit. second, you have to consider that someone is spending a bunch of money to make this happen, so the risk or speculation has to be at least something reasonable. at times it is not just one dudes money, but maybe a bunch of guys from new york or chicago. you can pretty much bet they have done their homework and want to know that what you are doing is fiscally responsible. an office building will work. Will a school work - maybe but WTF? i can think of million other places better fitted for a school whether elementary or higher education. When was the last time a developer went and made a school by a whim of "wouldn't it be great to do?" What about PNCA down the street?

i am happy to see that derelict building become something better than what it is, and with some activity maybe we can see some vitality on what today is a nasty transportation intersection - i think the edges of the site alone are risky, so i say go for it, and make the best damn office building you can. and if the end you walk in and go holy shit look what they have done, look at what the building is doing from an environmental standpoint then i think that is better than some architectural splendor of smooth concrete shear walls.


There is something said for local firms getting solid designers backing these larger projects (especially the more public ones). Some originality and allowing younger more forward thinking architects and designers to get involved would do some of the firms like GBD, Ankrom Moisan, and Sienna well. The reason that we are seeing so much of the same old stuff is because its all been a well oiled formula thus far and no one is willing to take it to the next level and teeter a bit on the edge of what hasn't been done before (let alone think outside the box). Speaking of originality, loved the Jeff Lamb comments by others. Jeff: 1990 is calling and they want their designer back. Sienna PLEASE take note.

thousand oaks office space

Could a dusty, old building become the Pearl District's next hot spot for dining? ... are making plans to rehabilitate two former Meier & Frank warehouses

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