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Mike Francis

Hi, Brian. Long-time reader, first-time poster. I appreciate this site very much.

Since you cited my 1988 article, and since I'm on The Oregonian's editorial board now (though I didn't write today's edit about the Carriage House), I thought I'd tell you why we fell mostly silent on its demolition.

Like you, I came down and stood on the sidewalk when they tore the Rosefriend down. It was like watching an old friend be stabbed to death. I was sorry to see it go.

But, as my 1988 article began, "Preservationists, poorly funded and usually poorly organized, have to pick and choose their battles."

When I thought about the difficult position of a downtown church (in its own historic structure) with a declining membership, and its willingness in the end to save the Carriage House, I became less willing to go to the mat over the Rosefriend. It was a lovely building, but downtown is still blessed with a fair number of vintage brick apartment buildings and if the demolition would help the church itself survive and the Carriage House to be refurbished and preserved, I concluded it was a trade-off worth making. It's unfortunate that it came to that, but it was a rational outcome, I thought.

And by the way, I did write the Sept. 14, 2006 editorial that said this, in discussing the changes in store for that block: "When public spaces, prominent structures and private property issues converge, passionate debate tends to follow. In fact, just such spirited debate prompted the First Christian Church and the developers to re-draw their plans to save the 123-year-old Ladd Carriage House, a development welcomed by all of us in the neighborhood. (The Oregonian's main offices stand directly across Broadway from the planned tower, on the site of the original Ladd House.)

The give-and-take of the public process is what, we may hope, keeps our city vibrant and beautiful. It's painful, sometimes, to watch the change as it occurs, especially when an old red-brick friend is demolished to make room for a spire of glass and steel."

Brian Libby

Thanks, Mike, for your thoughtful and insightful comments. We can agree to disagree on whether it was worth the trade off you speak of, but I can better accept today's editorial in light of what you had to say here. I hope this will go down as healthy debate and nothing personal.

Mike Francis

Of course not. And I think we're in total agreement about Greg Oden's injury.

ws

Out of this deal, what the citizens of Portland have been left with is a beautiful vintage wood frame building with historic provenance, ripped away from the context provided by its former neighbor, the now demolished 100 yr old Rosefriend Apartment building, and set against the backdrop of a sterile glass and steel box. Something more compatible with The Carriage House could have been, and should have been conceived and built.

I'm happy that The Carriage House was able to be preserved. Beyond that, I don't think there's much here to be pleased with. Not enough is being done to strengthen the city's architectural integrity whether the structures in question are old or new.

And what of the efforts being made for the historic preservation of those natural elements that make up the experience had by visitors to the South Park Blocks upon which the church, its glass tower, and The Carriage House borders?; real sky, clouds, and sun rather than mere reflections off of a glass surface. Not enough is being done to protect the integrity of the South Park Blocks next door from being diminished by the construction projects of private property owners adjacent to those blocks.

Soon, another tower will be erected on the block immediately to the south of the Ladd Block, blocking yet a little more of the morning sun that enters the South Park Blocks. No doubt, more of the same kind of excuses will be brought forth to explain this next failure to protect one of the city's most important historic resources.

J. Valentine

Brian, once again I'm with you on this. I'm glad that the Ladd Apartments were built. They look high quality, will add density to downtown, and contribute to the skyline. The Rosenfriend, however, is irreplaceable. I love both styles of architecture, and I love eclecticism. I love old, well-built architecture next to new, well-built architecture.

If I were mayor, I would use eminent domain to kill those surface lots before destroying another irreplaceable part of this city. There are literally such lots within blocks of this site. Park and Main would have been a great site, and completely comparable.

dennis

If I had to choose between the Ladd or the Rosefriend to save, I would pick the Ladd hands down. But with that said, I understand historical buildings some times sit in the way of progress and are forced to come down, but what bothers me the most about this is the fact that the developer and architect ignored the precedence of the Rosefriend and tried to incorporate it into the design of the tower. The base of the Ladd Apartments looks as if it was robbed from a high end strip mall in the suburbs and wrapped around a tower.

The could of easily incorporated the footprint of the Rosefriend or the unique entrance into the building or even the detailing that went into the building without having to replicate it.

I feel that this tower is an example of architecture failing to preserve, reuse, or recycle its past buildings into the new structure. The developer and architect let Portland down with this tower.

billb

A good city is a changing organism
and things must be allowed to come and go in order to serve the needs
and desires of the people.
It is great to save fine quality historic properties like Ladd , but if you save every mediocre old building you will turn PDX into a dead museum. Downtown has a hard enough time being relevant as a live/work environment, without
chasing away developers.
As to the tower , it is out of scale and lacks proportion and detail. Maybe someday it too will be replaced. Lets hope no one trys to 'Preserve It' !

goose

if god can't save a dwindling congregation, then i doubt a 23-story glass tower will. then again with all that parking... who knows?

i found it ironic that cathy galbraith was quoted as saying "the project was a triumph, regardless of what happens next with the old house." of course, she was talking about its future use, but unless there is an easement on the carriage house, it could very well come down before you know it, even if it is relisted on the local inventory.

Jim Heuer

Can't help but comment on this from the perspective of one of the members of the Friends of the Ladd Carriage House that tromped all over SW Portland trying to find a solution that would save the building -- all the while pleading with the developers and the powers-that-be in Portland to come up with a way to save at least the Carriage House -- knowing all the while that the battle for the Rose Friend had been lost a long time before.

First, considering the very real probability that we would have lost BOTH the Carriage House and the Rose Friend, this is a triumph of preservation. Remember, guys that the solution that John Carroll and Opus NW came up with to save the LCH was not inexpensive. The executives back in Minneapolis who held the purse-strings for this project could easily have said "no", and there was nothing, I repeat nothing, beyond bloviation that we could have done about it (although we did consider chaining ourselves to the building in front of the bulldozers!)

Rather than decrying the loss of the Rose Friend yet again, why not talk about the creative solution that Ankrom Moison developed to move the entire program of the Ladd Tower project from 3/4 of the block to 1/2 the block -- thereby permitting the Carriage House to be saved. It resulted in substantial cost increases and a reduction in rentable space, but it used some very clever tricks to make the redesigned building work.

As to the setting for the Carriage House, one can argue that the severe lines of the base of the Ladd apartments are too jarring relative to the other two historic buildings on the block. That reality is not completely the fault of Ankrom Moison and the developers. The Portland Bureau of Planning has this thing about faux historicity and demanded any historic building element references to be removed from the structure during design review. So we are left with "modernism" in what the design review would see as its "purest" form, regardless of whether the ensemble on the block works visually or not.

As to the long-term preservation of the Carriage House, goose's concerns are well taken, but we do have some hope in this regard. First, that great location will help ensure rents that can support the high maintenance costs of a 125 year-old building. Equally important, the renomination of the building to the National Register of Historic Places is well under way. The Venerable Team is working on this, and so-far the signs from Salem and Washington are positive for its getting approved. Under the demolition delay rules adopted in the last weeks of Mayor Katz's administration, once on the NR, the building is subject to fairly elaborate protections. Finally, should somebody get the idea to tear it down and build a taller structure... the supporting components under it in the underground parking garage won't support anything much heavier -- and the un-used FAR from its footprint has already been transferred to the tower, so there is no legal way to build higher.

Finally, if you'll indulge a little crankiness on my part, our essential historic building fabric is not going to be saved by griping, but by money, organization, and time. Brian, and at least some of the readers of this blog are well aware that there was no mechanism to force the survival of the Rose Friend because it was not on the city's Historic Property Inventory. Improving the Inventory is one of those unglamorous but vital steps to preserving what is important. When each of you who posted on this subject can say you've written your letter to the Mayor demanding the updating of the Inventory... When each of you has bought your membership to the Architectural Heritage Center or the National Trust for Historic Preservation or the preservation organization of your choice (and don't say the late lamented HPLO)... then we can start talking realistically about what to do to preserve our historic building heritage.

ws

Jim, good comments. I don't think the development team has ever been shorted on compliments for its creative efforts in redesign and in assuming extra expense that allowed preservation of The Carriage House. Their efforts in that respect have been resoundingly approved of.

Where to a large degree, criticism rather than approval has been landed, is in the development teams choice to not conceive of a tower style that would provide at least some suggestion of the type of architecture it has taken away from the city. Lacking that, at least a style that would be somewhat creative and complimentary to the other two structures on the block; Carriage House and the First Christian Church building.

Instead, the city gets a plain glass box tower. In the towers design, for example, there could have been a certain amount of opaque material, perhaps terra cotta or stone framing the tower with openings for the windows. With such a design there exists at least some chance for a complimentary relationship between the structures of varying style on the block. With this particular tower, there's just nothing.

Since the development team was apparently determined to use a glass box for the tower, in that idiom, they could have attempted to design one that at least strove for some creative or neighboring building complimentary style. It seems as though no effort was made to do this either.

Jim Heuer

ws, you are absolutely right relative to how the tower and its pedestal pay little homage to their neighbors on the block (except that the pedestal height aligns well with the height of the First Christian Church building). The interesting thing is the process relative to how we got to this point. I very well remember sitting at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning Design Review hearing where one of the interim designs was presented. This design had classical elements in the base and there had been some discussion of a frieze around the pedestal building that would reflect some of the detail on the Carriage House.

The Design Review Commission would hear none of it. They were emphatic that there should be NO historical referential elements in the new building. It may have been that Opus and Carroll Investments breathed a sigh of relief at that, because that extra embellishment would definitely have cost money, but whatever their feelings in the matter, they had no choice but to go back to a strictly modernist design.

Frankly I was stunned at how stultifying the design review process was. I still remember how frustrated I felt when it became clear that no integrated visual composition would likely get past the city bureaucrats. At this stage it would be very interesting to go back to the transcripts of that meeting to see just how much of what you dislike about the tower and its design was literally forced on Ankrom Moison by the City.

There has to be a way in which Portland can achieve harmonious urban development without cookie cutter sameness imposed by a "Design Review" process stuck in the 1990's.

ws

I may have been to the meeting you describe, because I remember some of that. Also, I'm aware of the aversion...I'll call it inflated aversion some people have to this 'faux' thing, some of it valid, some not. I think that particular aversion is an unfortunate consequence of the abuse developers have subjected popular historic architectural styles to as a result of their having borrowed from those styles poorly in some examples of new construction.

I'm trying to remember some of the design proposals for the tower that preceded the one being built, and whether they included some opaque framing...can't remember off-hand. Thinking of the numerous towers in the Pearl constructed over the last 10-15 years that managed to do something like that...for example, The Gregory, and that were apparently approved by the Design Review Board, it doesn't make sense that such a tower for the Ladd Block would have been opposed by Design Review.

Again, the complaint here that I see is not so much that a tower with a partially opaque exterior wasn't built (because as someone commented earlier; good modern juxtaposed against good historic can be very beautiful), but that one wasn't even conceived, considered or proposed by the developer, at least as one of the design options presented for consideration by the public.

ae

I agree with a number of your sentiments here. What I was also curious about was whether the Rose Friend was livable. I heard rumblings that it wasn't. We talk a lot about affordable housing. However, existing housing *is* affordable housing -- not new towers or anything new for that matter whether designed to be "affordable" or not.

I don't know who was living at the Rose Friend but it struck me as a beautiful building providing housing in the heart of the city -- the kind of housing probably more accessible than the tower there now.

ws

ae, up until eviction and demolition, the Rosefriend was very livable, though the church had allegedly began neglecting some basic repairs; old building, expensive repairs...that's somewhat reasonable. Despite that, people were happily living there, some of them long term residents. Its garden entry was always inviting to glimpse in passing; flowering shrubs at ground level and potted geraniums in the windows of apartments above. Search the archives on this weblog for discussions about this building.

There are many important issues associated with a property like the Ladd Block, private property that it is. The city keeps an eye on and works to maintain a certain amount of affordable housing in the downtown core, (new building recently finished just off SW 11th and Jefferson) but one of the questions for me that a block like this raises is 'If people are allowed to live in buildings located directly on the Park Block, who should that be?'.

Generating greater income from a new residential building located on the Ladd Block wasn't such a bad idea. The propriety of devoting all of the new building's residential space to people having incomes above 'low income' levels seems very questionable to me.

peter

I guess I'm glad the Ladd Tower's base does not include phony references to an architecture it has just displaced - though it does have the cheesy look of a fancy barnes & noble in the suburbs. But I'm surprised to find I like the new tower's glass.

That said, I am once again sad at the loss of the Rosefriend. As I wrote before, I never saw an indication that the church and developers made a sincere effort to consider alternatives that would satisfy the desire for parking and revenue, but not necessarily all on site or at the density they got.

I come back again and again to the quarter-block development precedent of the Casey (12th & Everett, LEED Platinum) and opportunities for shared parking with neighboring uses (including the upcoming development of the lot across Columbia.)

But point taken, Mr. Heuer, about the need to organize and not just talk. And to move on.

NW Portlander

People "allowed" to live on the Park blocks? My grandparents once lived there in retirement . . . in a building that has since been acquired by PSU for student housing. While I'm happy that the Ladd Carriage house survives I related to the suffering of the Rosefriend tenants and of the dozens of other affordable inner city apartment buildings slowly being bought up and either razed for glitzy luxury towers or converted to expensive apartments that these people can no longer afford. Because Portland and Oregon do not allow any kind of rent or fee/deposit control, property managers and landlords can hike prices as much and as often as they wish, charge any kind of fee or deposit and rake in the dough by requiring every applicant to pay for a credit check (which because prohibitive on a limited budget and when it involves numerous applications).

Is the price of living on the Park blocks now being wealthy? Renters in Portland - and indeed, in Oregon - are helpless in the wake of gentrification. The State protects them only if they are in subsidized housing, are Section 8 tenants or may be evicted for condo conversion . . . and even those protections are scant and ultimately do not save their residences. In the case of conversions of tear downs for upscale apartments, tenants get 30 days. As our economy continues to decline, more and more people will be competing for a dwindling number of truly affordable (not "market rate") apartments, not only in the inner city near work but in the outlying areas. This was the biggest tragedy of the demise of the Rosefriend and other buildings like it. The Ladd Carriage house did not have tenants except in the sense that businesses operated out of it. Businesses have more options.

ws

Glad to hear someone else is thinking about the question of who gets to live nearest to some of Portland's most important public amenities, how it happens and whether it's fair.

About the question of who is entitled to participate in discussions of how historic preservation is realized here in Portland, I think that if people have the resources to contribute to various preservation organizations, they should certainly be encouraged to do that. However, doing so, should not be a condition for participating in the discussion.

It seems to me that every resident of Portland has a vested interest in the form that historic architectural preservation and planning takes in this city. Are they aware of that? Do they believe they should challenge further, the domination that developers have had over the course that planning takes in the city and the extent to which historic preservation is carried out?

val

Ok, so there is once again a potential historic house and adjacent apartment building in danger- this time at 1126-1134 SW 12th Ave. The Morris Marks house and the Doricourt apartment building are in danger of being replaced by something much larger. Here is the opportunity for folks to try to save one or both of these buildings. Certainly, the Doricourt is no Rosefriend but it is another example of an endangered affordable apartment building in our city center. Is anyone out there going to step up and try to save these buildings? Or will we all sit idly by our keyboards ready to complain, when one or both of these perfectly fine buildings- rare representations of old Portland's residential past- are torn down an replaced by more steel and glass?

ws

Val, thanks for the reminder about the status of the Morris Marks House. Last I remember, historic preservationist Clem Ogilby was looking around for potential sites for this great old house. Wonder how he's doing. The Goose Hollow neighborhood was mentioned. In fact, right across from the Goose Hollow Inn in that parking lot to the east would be nice. Too bad it couldn't be moved over next to the parking lot just east of the Old Church (same architect, right?). Imagine: build an underground parking lot, set the Morris Marks on top, landscape the surrounding area for a superb historic complex, extending the wide range of community services the Old Church has been offering for years: performance, concerts, wedding venue and more.

The Doricourt apt building; I've never been inside, but the street view of it is very appealing. Simple but cozy looking, lovely human scale enhanced by its beautiful cast iron balcony and other detailing.

What I'd like the city, the design review board, property owner, potential developer and anyone else that's interested to consider as an option for this building, is to allow it continue on into the future in its present location as a low to middle income accessible apartment building.

How to do that? Build the Doricourt into the base of a new building; a condo, an office tower or whatever. This kind of thing could be done, but I've got a pretty good feeling about what the response to the suggestion will be.

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