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I would *love* a year-round public market in Portland - I feel like this is one of the big things Portland lacks, and is one of my favorite things about, for instance, Seattle. I think it's one of those types of public spaces that create a really community feel, for some reason - maybe because it tends to force or promote interaction between people.

Being just across the street from Waterfront Park would be nice too, as bicycle access would be really easy from the Hawthorne bridge for folks on the East Side - as long as they include some bicycle parking at the market.

I kind of like the idea of having the market nestled in on the sides of the bridge like that, and maybe having the market there would put in some added motivation for better pedestrian/bike facilities on the Morrison, which would be wonderful.


The market under the Morrison seems like an o.k. idea. It would liven up what's now basically a dead area dominated by the hotel that offers no street level activity, and by car parking lots.

I think the Portland Building is basically a good one. If it were possible to correct the errors that were made to it's final design plan, I'd say do that according to Grave's original configuration. That would eliminate the major, ongoing objection to the building that is probably the only significant obstacle to its rightfully being one of Portland's most loved buildings.

Removing the Portlandia statue from the Portland Building to adorn a public market facility is a poor idea. The market design committe should commission their own statue. I'd love for Portland to somewhere have a full length human form beaten copper sculpted statue. Or, maybe Tiffany's would care to authorize use of their store's statue (it's there...also kind of hard to see, above the store's doorway) for use at the public market.


Great location. Great idea moving the statue. And yet, if this project were to move forward as designed, I predict... IT WOULD FAIL!

Frankly, I'm stunned that this design came from SERA. The meetings must have gone something like this: OK. What should we preserve from the old market's location? I know! It's sense of doom and gloom provided by the bridge overhead! We can do that by capping the whole project with these totally pointless, non-porous, hideous and useless Romper Room Ren Fair inspired cones! Perfect! Just make sure we do nothing to afford magnificent views of the park, river, city and mountains - or of that statue we just paid a fortune to move here. Why, that might create a draw for people to come to the market for a nice stroll, like they do at Pikes Place. We wouldn't want that! Only people driving on the bridge should get those views. Oh, and don't provide a space for light to creep into the market or for a massive rooftop garden. That would just be dumb! And the high rise at the center? Make sure it's totally pedestrian. And don't bother taking down the cloverleaf connectors from the Morrison Bridge to Naito Parkway, which will pretty much make it impossible for people on foot and bikes to actually get to the market - no, we wouldn't want to inconvenience motorists who would be forced to actually enter the city.

Should I go on? SERA? I hardly knew ya. If you, as professionals, don't realize that taking advantage of the views and the potential for roof gardens are at least two of the issues of utmost importance of this project at this location...

...and those pavilions... ugh...


Portland does need a year-round market, but this group should not be the ones in charge of it. The Portland Farmers Market is moving toward a year-round presence, and it receives very little help from the city. Why should this project?

What we have here is the Portland Public Market asking for your money to buy this land (and pay Ron Paul's consulting fees) so Melvin Mark can get free land to build a tower and the Goodman family can obtain more rent from market vendors than from parking revenue.

Let's also remember that Melvin Mark is not exactly one of the more creative developers in this city. It's out of its league on this one.

The city should support a year-round market. It should support it by helping the organization that already exists...not a group of ex-restaurateurs and politicians who have been pandering to well-heeled Portlanders and posing for photo-ops instead of building the type of grass roots momentum the Farmers Market has been building for almost two decades.


One more thing:

I just have to add that I agree with Matthew. Why SERA? Who is Ron Paul buddies with there? Look at their projects: The Civic is ugly, the Nines Hotel has very poor details (but nice interior design work of which SERA is not responsible), and the Marriott project on 6th is just plain terrible. With all the talent the city has, why not go with a Holst or Skylab?

Eric Cantona

Stuart has this one spot on. that Ron Paul is still in charge of this is simply astonishing. or not, depending on your level of cynicism.

Matthew - you certainly can decipher a great deal from a very rudimentary sketchup image! very impressive.

2 of my pennies: moving the statue is a phenomenally bad idea for a couple of reasons. one - it was (to the best of my recollection) designed for its current location. two - we could probably come up with something better for that site. something specifically designed for the location and architecture/surroundings.

Eric Cantona

oh lord. i take back any positive comments directed at Stuart.

can we PLEASE STOP resorting to the tendency on this blog to continually plead for Allied/Holst/Skylab/BlahBlahBlah to save a project? it's lacking in any realistic understanding of how projects are developed and is, frankly, insulting to many talented architects and firms.

i've worked with SERA and they are an imminently capable firm who've done some great work. not perfect, but solid. the reality for most firms is that the client drives a lot of what a project will look like. sometimes there's only so much you can do, and you do the best you can. also take into account that this appears to be some very early work on this development.


OHHHHH.... I totally got SERA mixed up with Skylab... One can imagine my shock thinking that Skylab was responsible for this. And Eric, thanks for the props (I think?), but weren't my observations fairly obvious? Shouldn't a certain Blogger have made them?


Portland should have a year round market...a year round Farmer's Market, this is seriously just a scam to screw people out of their money because using the flag "public market" people are thinking this includes the farmers market, which it doesnt.

Personally, I think a permanent Farmers Market location would be much more suited for one of the lots along 11th or 12th downtown and close to the light rail. That part of the city has more people that would be in walking distance to it from downtown, goose hollow, the pearl district, the university district, and the northwest district, plus give an easy connection to areas outside of downtown that could take the light rail.

When will people learn this idea for the city and that we are basically helping pay for Ron Paul's tower if we support this.

Khris Soden

I really like the idea of having a year-round farmer's market, and I also like the idea of doing something with that dead space, but here's a couple of immediate thoughts that I have about that area:

- It doesn't really seem to be a large area, or at least not an area with any room to expand. Assuming that the farmers need a loading area and that Naito Parkway isn't especially conducive to that, it leaves even less area for the market.
- The current infrastructure doesn't support pedestrian access very well. Naito Parkway is not fun to cross; the idea of putting a bridge over the MAX thoroughfare doesn't seem to allow a lot of width; and the Morrison in its current state is a pedestrian nightmare.

Still, I can't really criticize what is currently only a concept. It would be nice if they could include some allusions to that site being the original location of Chinatown if/when it makes it into the design phase.


Why do our downtown office buildings always have to be so bad? They are both sterile and foreboding, while being unexpressive and depressing. I wouldn’t mind this so much if they had the kind of fuck you ubercapitalist gravitas of the Sears Tower or Columbia Center in Seattle, but they always come off as less of a complete thought. They seem to revel in my least favorite architectural vice: mediocrity. They stand out as complete non-statements. This prominently situated proposal is my exhibit X in the case for Portland’s capitalists to have some damn ego-driven pride in their phallic representations.

In other words, can we please do something less cheesy than this? For the record, I actually like the TVA designed Fox Tower and upcoming PAW. A little space-shippy, but undeniably well done. I also love most of the buildings build before 1950 (Doyle’s Meier and Frank building being one of my favorites), and I really like most of the recent condos (including SERA’s Civic). But it’s the wishy-washy, economically driven (cheap), office towers that ruin the skyline. I’m thinking of One Main Place (which looks more like a prison than the actual prison across the street), the international style barf bag of the Standard Insurance Center (not the Standard Insurance Plaza shown in the heading), or even First and Main (I’ll give it a shot and I like GBD, but the renderings look like a very large missed opportunity).

I don’t mean to be a negative Nancy or disparage the hard work and economic/design review realities of architects involved in these projects, but when I see another oddly unappealing rendering for an area of town that could use a burst of design, my heart sinks a little. How about we use some of the will for sustainable energy harvesting architecture and our new friend Vestas to build something that looks like Chad Oppenheim’s COR building (converted to office use, of course). I just really love the trend in architecture to create intricate and organic looking facades for buildings, such as the Beijing National Aquatics Center.

As for the tents, I’m actually okay with that, but I would hope that they would hearken back to the Munich Olympic Pavilion with the same bright sheen and light permeability. Hopefully it could help transform this very pedestrian unfriendly area into a new civic meeting place.


The tower kind of looks like a tube of lipstick.

Would it be possible to incorporate the Shanghi tunnels into the project?


Thank you Eric Cantona. I too am sick of everyone on this blog getting a boner at the mention of Holst, Allied Works, Skylab, Works Partnership, Colab, Stuart Emmons, etc. who are apparently the only capable and "talented" architects in Portland.

This is solely a single firm's concept for a particular site and program!


I don't really see how this site would make much sense. Placing a public market, which would be a completely separate entity from the Portland Farmer's Market, underneath a bridge, AND the bridge ramps, would be, as someone mentioned above, a complete pain to actually try to access.

Those bridge ramps need to come down, but a market, like Pike's Place in Seattle or Granville Island in Vancouver BC, seem to do pretty well if they are housed in their own building, and not shared in a multi-use tower, since that would make things that much more difficult to create the right relationships and politics.

Additionally, a public market would do well to build off of pedestrian activity and other tourist and market-type activity (even museums would help) by bringing a critical-mass of people, which would be potential customers. This site is pretty dead.

I would suggest a site over in Old Town, which is heavily patronized by people going to the existing Farmer's Market. Land should also be cheaper there.

I could almost envision this to be located on the Central Eastside, except there isn't that much activity over there, and transit connections are much more limited, since they don't have the MAX, bus mall, or streetcar. And walking from downtown, NW, and the Pearl would take a very long time. There also isn't much in the way of parking.

So the market should be built somewhere downtown, preferably on a vacant lot. Too bad the fire station didn't get moved... that would be a perfect spot for this!


The public Market and farmers market would be perfect under the I-5 bridge near OMSI. That entire area has the same feel as Grandville Island in BC. With OMSI (and its new development) the MAX and a water taxi system a very reasonable built market would thrive. Just putting up some interesting large tents would create a viable place for both the Public and farmers market. I think the problem is Ron Paul has always looked at this venture as a little to high end. He seems to want something grand. I think coming in with a more Powells book store mentality that allows the ware to actually be the star and just having a very functional comfortable place to house them would be much more in tune with the idea of a market and also Portland.


Portlandia's current location has always seemed awkward to me - it seems like its supposed to be a landmark, but you can't even see it without craning your neck and peering around trees in the summer. Facing the river overlooking a public space would be much better. Brian brings up an interesting point, though - the Portland Building is only 20-some years old, but it is in the history books already. Is it deserving of some sort of historic preservationist attitude? My personal opinion is no, the reality on the ground should trump an academic notoriety, but maybe I'm biased because I'm not a big fan of the building in the first place. Like the work of a Holst or Skylab it looks stylish to begin with, but became dated quickly.


Valentij, "fuck you ubercapitalist gravitas" gets my vote for best architectural-criticism phrase of 2008!

Charlie Brown

I agree with Matthew, the most part. Heaven help us if most of Portland's architecture firms designs are driven mostly by the clients. In this case, it appears that the 'foodie' connection in Portland is driving this design. if the given name this project after James Beard. It sure as heck should somehow referred to his concepts of putting together a meal, and somehow incorporates his writings and travels and local schools.

Hugh Ferriss, one of America's greatest architectural role visualizers. I believe was once quoted as saying our rendering is an attempt to tell the truth about an architecture... the image put forth before the public for this project is confusing and poorly conceived and appears to be driven by a total lack of a budget. Just to get it done. It does a discredit to the process. it's amazing how many architects never learn how to draw. Don't they know there are professionals that spend their lives perfecting the art of this vital aspect of visual communication?

Eric Cantona

"Heaven help us if most of Portland's architecture firms designs are driven mostly by the clients."

good grief Charlie Brown, have you any idea what the real world is like? if you were a client commissioning an architect to design a major building, do you imagine yourself having no say in the final outcome? do you understand the egos involved in the development of multi-million dollar projects?

these people (architects) you and others so easily denigrate have actual businesses to run. most aren't financed by family money, or riding their fame on the backs of their (overworked/underpayed) staff, as are a few of the favorites mentioned often in this blog.

i'm not giving SERA, or any other practitioner, a pass on creating well thought-out architecture that is both functional and beautiful. i am asking for a wee bit more informed criticism, and a better understanding of the deeper issues relating to the development of projects like this one.

fair statement on the rendering front, though. sketchup is killing the ability to actually sketch.

utah garage doors

I think a permanent Farmers Market location would be much more suited for one of the lots along 11th or 12th downtown and close to the light rail.


I cannot even imagine what this thing will look like at the street level. Only the news choppers will ever see the view that they rendered.
Even beyond rendering, I remember a point in school when the actual designs began to reflect which computer software was used to create them, even when the output was just used as an underlay.


lets put the market in the empty bldg [former restaurant] in the Rose Quarter , eh. lots of loading and parking and light rail. Near the inevitable [ugly] convention hotel , It's all done and ready to go , great view of dntn , and close to a lot of poor people like me.


"Those bridge ramps need to come down..."

Morrison Bridge -> Naito is the designated freight route from the Central Eastside to I-5 south. Those ramps are NEVER going away.


The Portland Public Market and the Portland Farmers Market are two different things entirely. But they are often confused by the press.


I can understand the County's need to raise funds, but structures immediately adjacent to the Sellwood Bridge ramps have caused a lot of problems for that project. Is this the best use of the land and PDC funds?


this site is way too important to be so casual in design. i have looked at this site before and it is really a tough site for pedestrian access without a lot of traffic control devices. it has a lot of fast moving traffic around it on three sides. it could nicely connect to the park above the max line and beneath the bridge, maybe even the train could go through the building and the building could connect to the smaller triangular site. The building itself has to be something of much higher significance and design. with that said i think it is a great building site, but not a great farmers market site - it seems like a carrot to the city to release this site for development.

Charlie Brown

Eric. I was only half kidding about the clients driving the designs and I do live in a fantasy world. That's why I'm not an architect. Portland architects would do well by watching the documentary on Frank Gehry and listening to his account about how he sold out to his developer client and built a shopping mall. That wasn't to his liking, but was instead, doing his 'real architecture' on his own house. Gehry Says something to the effect that he jumped off a cliff at that point cutting loose his entire office. So he could start designing and building the kind of architecture that he wanted to build. He got his clients by word-of-mouth, because he was being honest to his design sensibilities.

Are you saying then that there is no room in our fair city for the architect with vision to skillfully lead the client and take his concept and turn it into something that is visually stunning?

Eric Cantona

"Are you saying then that there is no room in our fair city for the architect with vision to skillfully lead the client and take his concept and turn it into something that is visually stunning?"

not at all. but please note that people like Gehry are extreme cases, and require clients with extreme pocketbooks, and a desire to have something extreme created. those clients are (extremely) rare. also note that envelope-pushing designs are often a crapshoot in terms of public acceptance and longterm aesthetic viability.

personally i would love to see the type of work you're asking for in Portland, and elsewhere. even something by Gehry, who i find rather overwrought. it's just not realistic to expect. and it's doubly disappointing to hear local architects get raked over the coals because they aren't creating stunning works of art at every turn. i'm just trying to interject some reality into the mix here.

in my fantasy world all the building are designed by Louis Kahn.

Douglas K.

Personally, I like this siting proposal better than a lot of others that we've seen. For one thing, it seems like a great low-cost re-use of a parking lot. For another, it's right next to a MAX station. A LOT of people take MAX to Saturday Market; you see crowds getting on and off MAX at Skidmore Fountain on the weekend. I expect a Public Market could be a major MAX destination as well, making pedestrian access from 1st and Stark of particular importance.

I don't see pedestrian access as much of a problem. I just took a look at the site myself -- actually walked to it and around it -- and the only moderately challenging access was from Naito and Morrison, where you have to cross several lanes of traffic making turns at all times. Yes, it would need some work, but the improvements are minor -- a few curb extensions, repaving some sidewalk, regrading portions of the sidewalk slighly along the east side of 1st Avenue, removing some streetlights and electrical poles from the middle of the sidewalk.

Right now, the bigger issue seems to be visibility of access rather than walkability ... if you're getting off MAX at Oak Street station, can you see how to get in around the cloverleaf ramp? Is the access to the market intuitive and obvious?

Approaching the proposed tower on the 2nd Avenue side is more problematic, but I think it could be handled with crosswalk striping, a few pedestrian crossing signals, maybe the loss of one traffic lane on 2nd between Washington and Alder. It shouldn't take too much work to make that whole are significantly safer for pedestrian crossing.

Ken Bauer

That building rocks. But i'm afraid, like the proposed Morrison Tower, this building if built will get ugglified into something like the ODS tower. Nice to see a design that isn't square or rectangle and that isn't a stump. I like this preliminary design.


to be clear the morrison tower that was proposed was designed by KPF, and the ODS tower is by ZGF - two completely different building designs/ers. The KPF tower died - unfortunately, because it was a real dynamic design - nothing like the fugly ODS, or i am afraid this bad proposal.

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