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Bikeportland.org's readers have been discussing this. As might be expected, they are ecstatic about the idea. Beyond general ideas, nothing about Bike Republic's owner, Ken Nichols specific plans for converting the Yeon Visitors Center Building, if he has any at this point, have been reported there.

re; the images above used to illustrate this article: it's misleading to picture a motorcycle when the story is about a bicycle related project.

Brian Libby

ws, you're right about that image. I was just having fun. But I've changed it out. (For those of you who didn't see it, it depicted two women on a motorcycle - fully clothed, I might add - next to a barbecue.)

John Russell

Yeah, what's up with the picture?

Mike M

Per BikePortland:
"He also wanted to clarify that the services he’ll offer at the site still depend on, “what type of build-out is allowed by Parks.”

Unlike what I reported earlier, he said he has no plans for showers, locker rooms, or long-term bike parking. “My hope,” he said, “is for a cafe, rentals of human powered vehicles (not just bikes), and bike repair and accessory retail.” In addition, he said that at this point, a Laughing Planet Cafe in the building is not a guarantee."

Sounds like just another bike store. I'd almost rather see the building removed and a cool bike store put in it's place.


Hey Brian...have fun by all means...babes on a a bicycle would have been just fine.

I also don't really see the problem with moving the building to a better location. Personally, I love the river view, but have had it with the succession of people-packed carny events that dominate the waterfront in Oregon's fair weather. The Yeon Visitors center could benefit from some neighbors that were more compatible with its own character.

It's certainly reasonable to see what Ken Nichols can come up with. He seems to have lots of enthusiasm and some good ideas, so it would be a shame not to. Bikeportland.org editor Jonathan Maus has an update on this story on that weblog. Plans and any agreement to use the Visitor's Center building as suggested with the Park's announcement of its selection of Ken Nichols are far from set. Go to that weblog for an interview with Nichols. Use of the building is contingent upon 'build-out' allowed for the new use. That phrase, 'build-out', in regards to this building, is something to think about.

Douglas K.

I preferred Chet Orloff's idea, but it'll be interesting to see what Ken Nichols finally comes up with. I expect a bike rental place in Waterfront Park could do good business during tourist season.

Peter S.


From what I recall of the Bike Republic proposal, what was once the conference room, the nicest room in the original building, would likely be converted to a men's locker room. No better or worse than the current kitchen, but this seems like a massive missed opportunity.

The most striking thing about the original design was the spatial composition of solids & voids. It's already been badly compromised by the current reuse. I can't say I'm optimistic as to retaining what is left.

Yeon wanted it removed, and frankly, in many ways Yeon was right. The building was extremely tightly tuned to its then-surroundings, facing almost entirely inward excepting a now-damaged view corridor to Hood. The corridor is almost obliterated by new buildings across the river. The pressure that shaped the building along the former Harbor Drive is gone, and that side of the building all but oozes into the park, without intent, without direction, and without any of the qualities Yeon so delicately sculpted. Add to that the Portland Spirit kiosk grafted onto the courtyard, the degradation of the courtyard space caused by the removal of the original walls, and the strange new pressure of Salmon Springs fountain being wedged up against the building and the context has so utterly changed as to seriously hobble the design.

Portland has many wonderful examples of reuse and is richer for it. But most of the buildings reused are really robust buildings, able to adapt well to a major programmatic shift. The Portland Visitors Information Center is a wisp of a building, and cramming McCall's into it was a grievous error, akin to cramming a Tapas joint into Mies' Barcelona Pavilion. This isn't the old Armory and treating it as such would display a deep ignorance of Yeon, Modernism, and the new set of difficulties facing the preservation thereof.

The building IS an information center. It's poorly suited to being anything else because it was extremely well designed to its purpose. Assuming for a moment that Yeon's oft disregarded opinion ought to be ignored, and for all the site-related problems I would like to see the building kept, to compound the damage by ignoring Yeon's design itself would be a nearly criminal disservice to the very idea of keeping the building in the first place.

Chet Orloff's proposal would give the city an opportunity to repair a horribly damaged building and honor Yeon's legacy as a designer rather than as a historical curiosity. Anything less is an empty gesture. And if we can't be bothered to do that much for his only public building, how much do we really value Yeon's legacy?

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