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I personally prefer LAB Holding's proposal. It seems more organic, youthful and Portland to me. The Pearl is already too many stodgy old condos and boring glassy towers. Let's preserve a little bit of the grit of industry and the mill. The mill is more prominent in LAB's proposal, the cantilevered bridge is way cool, there are no tall buildings on the waterfront and it builds more community and liveliness rather than more condos and private office buildings. Plus, it is feasible. Injecting some new blood in town might make things a little more exciting and cutting edge.


Does anyone really think that this project will fare any better than say Riverplace? The site is isolated from the city, cut off by Front Ave and the trains, and is not big enough by itself to be self sustaining. The idea of retail doing well there is suspect, unless you are going to create a large retail destination. And if you do that, how is it parked?. Riverplace for example does OK in summer and is dead the rest of the year. How will this be any different?

From reading all the press about this site it looks like the wish list is getting awfully long (family housing, incubator office, parks, markets, theaters, etc. etc.) and very little discussion has been on what will really work there financially unless Portlanders are willing to dump millions in subsidy to support it (I doubt that is the case! If so, great, but lets be real). Its fun to think about design in a vacuum, but once it collides with reality, I see another stalled grand idea going nowhere fast. Do you think it is a coincidence that PDC had to look outside of Portland to get someone to play this game?


I agree with you thought, "Instead of choosing three developers to make proposals, why can't we choose a qualified developer, but leave the design process and selection more open-ended?"

Taking a more organic approach to the development of this district may help to avoid the continuation of what seems to be an Architectural "mono-culture" in Portland. We've already seen how a homogenous building fabric arises from a close relationship of developer and designer in the Pearl and South Waterfront. If the financial development were allowed to relax on the calendar and each project went out for design proposals separately, the project could provide a healthy design challenge to our local firms.


i may be in the minority, but i think it's too soon to develop the mills. what's the rush? i can think of many more urgent plots of land to invest in that have a more relevant connection to the city currently. the rose quarter, the post office, the burnside bridgehead, conway...is there some timetable with urban renewal funds that is driving this bus? i'd hate for the investment to happen before there is critical mass to make it successful. without a destination like omsi or an aquarium or something big, it needs people to make it run, and right now there is more infrastructure than people in the pearl. maybe i'm wrong, but our streets are already empty compared to older east coast cities and dense communities in europe. let's grow into what we have before spreading out more. maybe it's the chicken or the egg thing, but i hate empty eggs, you know?


I posted a comment earlier today on the last centennial mills thread. Should have waited for brian to lead up a new one, but found myself alarmed by all the support for the LAB proposal.

I am really curious if any of you saw the presentations last week, and if so, what were your impressions.

The LAB proposal, I thought, was obscured beneath an unclear program and a nauseating sales job. The team showed a skin-deep understanding of portland, and yet promised to stay as owner/manager for the long-term- a frightening prospect after watching them for 45 minutes. In short, it was embarrassing. There's one important caveat: the team's architect has a strong record of restoring a similar mill complex in minneapolis, with apparent grace.

The Nitze-Stagen team was in a totally different league from the others in the sophistication of their design, their preparation, and their local knowledge. Even with reasonable competition I think they would have looked good. I think their proposal has got a lot of potential, and should not be screened out by a fear of tall buildings. They seem sincere in their ability to work comfortably on public projects - to let the design evolve, but to have a high standard of quality.


45-minutes is not long enough to present such a complex project...

I agree that the N-S team showed much more depth and sophistication, but I think their presentation was not terribly clear, and for better or worse it gives an impression of more of the same pearl / south waterfront development. Also, I cringed each time ZGF principal Greg Baldwin referred to Peter Walker as "Pete" like we all know him personally. Tad Savinar though was fantastic, and their proposal does have some terrific ideas.

Although they were clearly going more for emotion than for content, the LAB presentation (sales pitch) did become a bit nauseating. There was a simplicity beneath the music and graphics, but the message got lost in the ramblings of one man and they really failed to deliver. I too was impressed by their architect's past project in minneapolis, and the gentle touch shown in his proposal for this site. Like others, I'm skeptical that this project as proposed could really succeed on this isolated site, but I do think it could be developed into something more unique.

Cordish seemed clueless about Portland, and I couldn't even watch.


I have to disagree with Jeff's comment above: If you can't present a project like this in 45 minutes, your ideas are too diffuse and you haven't done your homework.

I was wincing with others in the audience at LAB's presentation, though my reaction may have been more to the slick style and false sincerity of the lead man than to the "content." Oh, and the thinly veiled verbal abuse directed at the other teams.

It wasn't clear to me how the group of three would be narrowed to one, but based on the clarity, appropriateness, and detail of the ZGF/Savinar/Nitze-Stagen proposal, they carried it
easily. They argue that the density and height of the adjacent buildings is necessary to the financial viability of the cultural component housed in the mill buildings, and I buy the argument. But that oh-so-casually untied bowtie...Greg...give me a break!

On the other hand, LAB's preservationist and open space approach is attractive in essence (if I understand it). But they propose owning the property outright, and the "we'll have to see down the line whether we build more" seems disingenuous.

Please, let's not talk about Cordish's liquor-and-gambling proposal. What post-industrial rust-belt waste-land city did they crib it from?


It will be interesting to see if tall towers on that site can one, find tenants in this market for preleasing, and two, avoid attracting viewscape lightning as did SoWa. There are many more, and many more powerful residents whose viewscape includes the Centennial site.

Personally I don't believe views are inalienable, but the public process can make them so.


Have to say that I wasn't present during the proposal, but isn't there more than successful precedence for mill development? Why all the poo-poo?


"Preservation is sustainability" and LAB's SEED projecct was the most preservation heavy, while remaining modern and innovative. The main draw of the Centennial Mills site (which is also tied to its success) is the preservation of its unique gritty character. Preserving that, which LAB's proposal does in spades, will make it a destination for Portland residents and visitors alike.

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