« Second "Designs On Portland" Talk Features Skylab, Works Partnership | Main | Kevin Cavenaugh Plans 14-Unit Housing Development By 13 Designers »


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



Frank Sauce

Just to clarify a few things from your post. "Modernism" as an art and literature movement really came into being with the Fin de Siècle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernism), whereas the "High Modernism" era of creative production was between the two world wars of the last century. After WWII, you have the “Post-_______” everything after.

Modernism and the term modern are often interchangeable in many peoples minds and certainly Mid-Century Modern problematizes if not obfuscates Modernism. Though many academics will continue to argue over Modernism's core concepts. However, the interchange of modern and Modernism condones a lazy language and an impoverishment of their significations.

The great and bad thing about architecture is that the atrocious interpretations exists along with the definitive forms for decades, which is why everyone needs to understand and support significant architecture and design, whether it be Art Deco, Sears & Roebuck, Constructivist or McMansion.

Great to have a place on the Internet for Portland Architecture!

Dennis H. Coalwell

Brian, I really enjoy reading your columns and reading many comments from the architectural community. I am a lay person who happens to be a fan of architecture.

Have you, or other professionals, ever posted on the following site?:


The majority of those who post on this site are not architects, but like me, are very interested in the architectural projects going on in the Portland (and world) area.

Jim Heuer

For another slant on the preservation of our legacy of mid-century modern buildings and especially the iconic housing from the period, check out the lecture by Jeanne Lambin at the Architectural Heritage Center on April 6. See www.visitahc.org for details. Sorry for the "plug", but I know that there are lots of folks who are beginning to take notice of this issue, and this is a very timely event.


I struggle with this question all the time, especially in light of the growing movement to preserve modern architecture. first, i'm a preservationist simply because i love old shit. but not everybody figured out what good architecture was even beyond 70 years ago, let alone after WWII. so perhaps some of it should come down.

however, i think the term "preservation" needs to be redefined by that particular community in order to incorporate other aspects and growing concerns, namely the part preservation can play in the fight against global warming. in europe, they use the term "conservation" which i think may be more appropriate in some cases. when history isn't necessarily the greatest value a building holds, perhaps its embodied energy, in the materials, labor, time and money that went into creating it, should be considered.

unfortunately, the materials produced after WWII have a more temporal quality to them and many buildings were constructed with the idea that they were temporary, just like with the big box stores of today. howver, like the building at 6th and oak, perhaps more of these buildings really only need a fancy new dress.

Jim Heuer

These preservation battles for mid-century buildings are popping up all over. In Seattle, there is currently an uproar over designation of an abandoned Denny's restaurant, built in 1964 as a landmark. Check out the article at:
and then go to:
to see what a remarkable building it is. The battles of the 1960's are being played out again, but this time instead of decrepit Victorian piles, the loss of which we now greatly mourn, the buildings are those built back in those very same 1960's.


If you think preserving the modernist era is bring up a lot of fundamental questions for historic preservation just wait until the architecture of the post-modern era is eligible for historic designation.

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