« A First Look at Centennial Mills Development Finalists: Would Less Be More? | Main | Point-Counterpoint on PDC's Future Urban Renewal Plans »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


people will take this blog more seriously if the author understood the definition of irony.

Brian Libby

Okay, so it's more coincidental than ironic. The author thanks you for the correction.

Hopefully the fact that one word in the author's post doesn't meet its exact definition won't so terribly appall and confuse readers like 'transplant' that they're driven away in fits of frustration over the lack of seriousness.


A new, extremely expensive I-5 bridge doesn't seem like the best thing that could happen to Oregon or Washington. It's seems to be something more on the order of a perceived economic essential; jobs and no-sales tax purchases in Oregon for Washington residents.

After we've heard 6 billion figures just to build a functional bridge, it's kind of hard to expect that any bridge built there will expend any additional money on a bridge design with even the slightest degree of beauty or creativity. A bridge between our two states, even if it were allowed spires that could tower into the heavens, will still likely bear the reality of being an ugly, polluting gut straddling the Columbia.

Meanwhile, there's Pearson Airport, an airport facility that's been serving the public for, I think...some 100 years. Small privately owned planes fly in and out, historic aircraft on display in a nice museum. All beautiful aircraft and aircraft related activities that increasing numbers of people want to see and enjoy.

Brian Libby, have you even been to Pearson? Disrespecting it just because it interferes with options for a better looking I-5 crossing bridge is insulting. Let's face it, whatever bridge design is arrived upon to respond to new transportation needs is never going to anything close to the beauty of something like the Brooklyn Bridge. I suppose I'm thinking that a low, flat bridge sounds just fine, all things considered.


Thanks to Brian and Jeff for bringing good design forward. Design is at the heart of our lives. It is not some extra one can choose not to have. There is little relationship between cost and beauty. An ugly home costs the same as a beautiful one.
We can build a bridge as
heart-stoppingly lovely as The St.John's, and
we would be fools to do less.

Jeff Joslin

I disagree that the high price for the most perfunctory approach precludes the likelihood that more resources could be directed to a more fitting and expressive approach. It is precisely these types of massive public improvement projects that can - and must - rise to the occassion, as the increment to achieve a more aspirational approach is a modest add relative to the overall scope of the project.

More so, in this case, there is no site or project in the region more worthy and demanding of an exemplary treatment. This is the ultimate gateway/threshold, and this project has the obligation and potential to remedy some of the indignities that have festered about this singularly signficant transitional locus.

And congrats to Baddrick, King of the Crayolas.

Brian Libby

WS, I have indeed been to Pearson airport. It's a lovely place, full of history and with a terrific riverfront location for small craft to come in and out of.

Oh, and I also have a soft spot for historic military aircraft. Even though I'm a liberal, my dad spent 20 years in the air force. I think it's awesome that Pearson honors that kind of legacy.

My only knock is that this nice little place that a few thousand people come to a year is less important in the grand scheme of things than the biggest bridge in the area that millions upon millions of people will use and look at for generations.

If we get a flat concrete bridge that looks like the I-205 one, I'll consider Pearson a quaint rock in the metro area's shoe.

Double J


The I-5 bridge has to be treated as the most important architectural/engineering project on the west coast... because it is. Let's be realistica about that fact.

A serious "name" architect is a way to keep committees and technicalities from turning the project into a massive failure of imagination. There is always room for design... but, when you spend billions there is definitely room for design. Besides it's a great site and deserves a great bridge.


As we focus our design concerns upon the bridge, and as Vancouver grows up into a destination downtown, creating the potential for a grand gateway heading north, it will take a marvelously grand bridge to create a gateway out of the big box bog that is Jantzen Beach. Maybe we can take a lesson from Las Vegas to recall the Jantzen Beach of 60 years ago. Rollercoasters, searchlights (LEDs of course) a giant wave pool, all intertwined with Target, Starbucks, Best Buy and Hooters!


"I disagree that the high price for the most perfunctory approach precludes the likelihood that more resources could be directed to a more fitting and expressive approach." Jeff Joslin

I really hope you're right in the instance of whatever new bridge design happens. People are going to have to really put their foot down to make that happen.


this might be a stupid question, but why couldn't the new bridge use similar heights to the existing bridge towers? There seems to be a precedent. Maybe it would be ideal for the airstrip to have nothing poking up, but has it been such a huge issue thus far? I would think with some conviction in design and political pressure we could use the heights of the exiting bridge towers to offer a worthy design solution that such a crossing deserves.

Brian Libby

Great point!


I believe that the deck of the new bridge will be high enough to allow shipping to pass under without a lift span.

Double J

Agreed, the lift span has to be out of the design.


The level of design and care we invest in our public infrastructure sets the community expectation for investment in surrounding private investment.


Just because the bridge is required to be relatively flat on top, does not mean that the structure has to be a boring freeway structure. I call attention to two bridges that do beautiful things below the deck:

1. The cape creek bridge:
2. the bixby bridge:

Neither of these bridges is boring or staid, but I believe that they have characteristics which could be used to create quality in this location.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Lead Sponsors


Portland Architecture on Facebook

More writing from Brian Libby


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad

Paperblogs Network

Google Analytics

  • Google Analytics

Awards & Honors