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Frank D

Why do you take the Oregonian editorial board so seriously? What in gods name makes them anymore qualified then people that comment on blogs? The Newspaper editorial page is obsolete. The only people who take them seriously anymore are those who still have lingering loyality to the old model of newspaper dominating distribution and therefor dominating the discussion. Al from NE Portland can articulate an opinion just as easily has the old school folk over at the Oregonian. Stop giving them cred. They don't deserve it.


How very predictable that the Oregonian advocates demolishing Memorial Coliseum (“Raze Memorial Coliseum and build a baseball stadium”, April 23). This is the same organization that removed the Ladd Mansion (of which they now herald the renovation of it’s carriage house – essentially the garage - on “its original site”) Unfortunately, THEIR headquarters building is on the ACTUAL original site. This is also the same organization that removed the ‘unusable’ historic US Steel building in the industrial NW in order to build a new printing plant that it desperately needed. THAT site still sits vacant after bulldozing another piece of Portland’s architectural history. And now we find out that the cost estimates for the proposed AAA baseball stadium are coming from Merritt Paulson’s own construction company, Turner Construction and that his personal lobbying firm is pushing for legislation that would help issue the bond debt! Never mind that the city council wants to redraw the Interstate Renewal District so that it (surprise) includes the site of the new stadium creating another source of funding to tap. The more we hear about this ‘great deal’ for Portland, the more it stinks of cronyism of a ruling class of wealthy individuals out to protect their own best interests.


The editorial board’s first statement that “only a new use can revive, regenerate and sustain an old building” is contradicted by dozens of successful remodels of buildings that were returned to their historic uses. A few examples are Portland’s Central Library, Pioneer Courthouse (the oldest federal building in the Pacific Northwest), Imperial Hotel (now the Hotel Lucia and Hotel Vintage Plaza), Malory Hotel (now the Hotel deLuxe), Crystal Ballroom, Wonder Ballroom and of course PGE Park! I could go on and on.

Smarty Pants

This is a big part of the reason newspapers are failing. Prediction, the Oregonian will be sold (this year) and its editorial board torn down before the memorial coliseum is.


What does the Oregonian know about architecture? Look at their building. It easily wins the award for worst building in downtown PDX.

Douglas K.

Stop strangling the Coliseum and saying it can't breathe!

That's ... brilliant, actually. A perfect, pithy, memorable, and evocative summary of the abominable management deal, boiled down to a single memorable phrase.


While I think it is quite possible to find an economically feasible new use and to refurbish the Coliseum, I think most people, especially Mr. Libby, are over-hyping the historical value of the building, and severely limiting the long term potential for the rose quarter to become a 24hr destination linked to the Grand Blvd Corridor and the westside.

I actually think that building a much larger, high density mixed-use development (whether that includes a ballpark or not) would be a much better use of the site..I've lived here for years, and never once attended an event there...primarily because there are so many other venues in town that make it redundant for entertainment performances..

We're not talking about tearing down a Mies Van der Rohe tower or Case Study house..It is probably not one of SOM's 100 best buildings...in fact it would be better to hire a struggling Portland architecture firm (with SOM as a consultant if that really matters) to build a 21st century high-density sustainable sports and entertainment complex..It could be the greenest mixed-use stadium development in the country, put people to work, and create another icon for the skyline to rival the convention center skylights....and still maintain the transparency and connection to the rest of the city that everyone still loves about the original structure..


I agree, Jason...but you'll be soundly beaten down on this site for voicing such a dissenting opinion.


Is the Oregonian Building that Babcock is referring to the one designed by Pietro Belluschi?

Brian Libby

I have no need to quarrel with Jason on this. It sounds like an intelligent and informed opinion that I happen to disagree with, but I can't say Jason's argument is insane.

I agree that Memorial Coliseum isn't the Taj Mahal by international standards, but it is a superb building, and I'd disagree about SOM and the hypothetical 100 best list of that firm's buildings. I'd say it'd be in the low 90s, maybe. Number 94, I'm thinking.

If we held every historic mid-20th century building up to the threshold of Mies Van der Rohe or the Case Study houses, there are architectural treasures all over the world you could justify razing.

Also, I think Jason's attitude here about the building doesn't call enough into account the trend throughout history for societies to de-value buildings from recent history only to see universal regret about it come in the generations that follow. Jason, if you don't think the Coliseum is worth saving, I bet your grandchildren, if they were to study this someday, might be part of a historical consensus that disagrees.

I hope this doesn't amount to any kind of beat down. Maybe I'm just too naive, but I think of this as merely helpful explanation.


Jason said: "It could be the greenest mixed-use stadium development in the country, put people to work..."

A new stadium would never be truly "green" if it was constructed at the Coliseum's expense. The amount of energy and resources it took to create the Coliseum is huge. To demolish it would be to throw all of that away needlessly. Renovation would require fewer material resources and would create local jobs, meaning that the money stays local and that's good long-term for the city.

If anyone wants to read more about the connection between building preservation and sustainability, I suggest people check out economist Donovan Rypkema's website: www.placeeconomics.com and read through some of his speech transcripts listed under his "Services" tab. Enlightening stuff.


Jason, how do you propose to make the Rose Quarter a 24-hour destination when it has little to offer for the non-afternoon or evening events? And the prospect of adding housing to what is essentially a social peninsula seems ludicrous when there is so much development and infrastructure directly across the river or a half-mile east.

Has Brian overblown the architectural significance of MC? Likely (and this is coming from a displaced Chicagoan who has lived among many of SOM's icons). However, in the realm of sports venues there are few if any significant arenas which can genuinely be declared unique and which show a nod to architectural design more than to basic nostalgia. Comiskey Park was torn down, Wrigley will be, as well, one day, Soldier Field was outfitted with a spaceship to accommodate modern sports and the Red Sox will be looking for a new home soon enough.

Adding a new ball park in place of Memorial Colisuem is not a wise decision and will not reinvigorate an area which has much larger issues to resolve to make it a full-time destination. And while the old venue may not be the most significant or beautiful icon in some eyes, as a sports stadium it most certainly speaks volumes about a clever, dramatic design solution.


Thank you Brian for pointing out why I dont read the Oregonian, and with that in mind, why I dont take the WWeek or the Mercury seriously either...there is a very limited number of good journalists in this town, which is a shame.

But with that said, new things come to mind, such as what should the city's next move be with the MC? How could it be turned into something more profitable? You mentioned the deal that the city has with Allen, thus making the MC a bad investment for booking events, should we re-evaluate that and possibly create a deal with Allen that would allow him to profit off of the MC or should it be designed to compete with the Rose Garden? What level of renovations should be done for the MC? (which you know, I am against removal of the bowl because if that is done, you might as well tear the building down.)

Also a final issue to point out is cost...I am not saying that we should do something because of cost (I for one am big on non valued values such as personal comfort), thus would mean there is an undefined value of the historical significance of the MC...but there still needs to be someone to pick up the tab. Personally, I think this is where an Urban Renewal Tax and funds from that can come into play, that money was taken out of the original deal, but I think if the MC is so important to the people of Portland, then using that money should be justifiable in saving and renovating the structure.

Oh and DC, yes the Oregonian offices is a Belluschi building (though I will admit, not my favorite from him and I wouldnt care if it came down.)

Douglas K.

A question about the "bad deal" with OAC:

Is there a copy of the operating agreement available on-line anywhere? I'm interested in what provisions it has (if any) for terminating the agreement. What would the City have to do to take the Coliseum and walk away, and what penalties would it incur by doing so?

Does anyone know?


1) Why doesn't the city build a new soccer stadium for the timbers and let the Beavers stay at PGE? Are the beavers really worth building a new stadium for? Is this some backdoor deal to get major league baseball here?
2)Why not just blow up the Rose Garden and send the Blazers back to Memorial Coliseum? The Rose Garden is Hideous.
3) WTF happens to the Winterhawks in all of this?
4) Why not blow up the Expo Center and build a beautiful soccer stadium at the end of the yellow line that people could see when they cross over from WA on the new I-5 bridge?


here is a study by Macht about the MC for those interested in downloading (great construction images):


Jeff Joslin

Years ago, when working on the completion of the blazer facilities, I spent time with the agreement. It was so detailed it was measured in yards, not pages. It's presumably public record, but was likely never digitized. It would have to be accessed through the city attorneys office. Enjoy, if you dare!


i really have a hard time with such a large portrait staring at me first thing in the morning!


The Oregonian building was indeed designed by Pietro Belluschi. This just proves what the Oregonian thinks of mid-century architecture. I hear it was a wonderful building when first built, but they have slowly ruined it. The large street facing windows once showcased the giant presses. The lobby was supposedly gorgeous, but they have ruined it by installing acoustic lay-in ceiling everywhere.
I also agree with Adam...that portrait is way too much to comprehend this early.


I didn't want to get into a whole urban analysis of the site in my first comment, but I think Wheelo makes a good point about the myriad problems that have made the Rose Quarter a typical sports stadium ghetto. More than any other plot of land so centrally located, this area will need dramatic intervention to be activated and connect with the rest of the city, which is why I think making the MC untouchable could really limit development options on the site..

My preferred location for a new baseball stadium would be on the post office parcel at the west end of the broadway bridge; then the blocks for the existing MC and Portland Public School blocks could be redeveloped for housing/office/retail phased in overtime when the economy improves..I think it would be possible to activate these 2 sites along broadway and create a dramatic gateway to the westside..

I acknowledge in this discussion I've left most of the politics out....it is horribly unwise to make major urban planning decisions so quickly, but a reactionary "preserve the MC at all costs approach" could be as bad as any short-term decisions made by the current vested political interests..

I love classic Modernism and I want the best works to be protected but part of the ethos of modern architecture was that it could be dismantled, re-assembled, relocated, and should reflect contemporary needs...I'm talking Cedric Price modernism, not the Dwell Magazine variety...in fact many dead modernists would probably laugh at the irony that their buildings are now treated as monuments...

One last thought regarding sustainability.. I am a huge advocate of adaptive re-use and infill development...but 1960's SOM international style glass and steel buildings are the biggest energy hogs on the planet..The stadium has been their for 40 plus years with single glazing cranking the a/c...One advantage of modernist structures is that they are highly recyclable...I have no doubt that a smartly designed energy-efficient replacement would more than save the energy it would take to dismantle it.....maybe even add energy back to the grid...

Douglas K.

As Macht pointed out in his article, it's pretty easy to solve the "energy hog" problem:

"The Coliseum’s 130,000 square-foot roof, the size of 3.25 city blocks, is totally unshaded and flat, lending it well to an enormous array of photovoltaic solar collectors. Its glass walls on all four sides are only single-paned windows ostensibly making it an energy hog. However, with the addition of a second glass skin on the interior, what is an energy waster could become an energy producer because the glass walls themselves would become solar collectors trapping heat. With appropriate ducts at the roof,
that heat generated could be moved to where it is needed, or it could be exhausted, providing insulation and cooling. As the sun moves around its glass walls, the Coliseum could collect more heat than most other kinds of structures. In fact, progressive buildings in Europe, like the Commerzbank tower in Frankfurt, were designed according to the same principle. Therefore, the Coliseum could be a trailblazer in retrofitting iconic historic buildings for energy efficiency far more sustainably than would its demolition and replacement by new construction of a baseball stadium."

I'd much rather see a vintage building retrofitted to LEED standards than demolished and replaced.


Wow Jason...that is food for thought...I don't think it's been mentioned much about how wasteful the building itself is (energy-wise).

About the area,I have to agree...that would be what I'd ultimately like to see as well, the PPS and MC gone and the entire area opened to redevelopment, to bring it back into the fold, as it were. Regardless of what is placed there, continuing to use that area as staging for nothing but giant, limited-use buildings will keep the area from being truly vital.

I think people forget that there is a part of the population that NEVER goes to sporting events...why can't it become an area which serves a bigger segment of the population...whether that's with more housing, mixed-use buildings...maybe even a few parks! The Rose Quarter shouldn't just be a place you go to for some random event...it should be a place to just hang out, whether that be a pub, shop or some random green space.

Right now the Rose Quarter is about as welcoming as a suburban office park, with its huge, imposing buildings, sterile bland plazas, and confusing grid...make it part of the city again, and maybe, just maybe, it will succeed. By most accounts, it was a vibrant neighborhood at one time, there is no reason it can't be again, even if we're bascially starting from scratch. I know there are a lot of other hurdles to go though and alot of planning...but it seems like we can do better...IMHO.


Well said Douglas , I can only add that the roof might be a giant planted Green Roof , what a cool park that would be !
PS , B , I believe I speak for 99% of your fans , when I say that if you ever post another huge pic of that war criminal , we will all go blind....


Even if the existing structure could actually hold a green roof, etc or $$ was available for photovoltaic retrofit...the MC's massive footprint with absolutely no relationship to it's context (besides dramatic views) will harshly limit the redevelopment of the site, and prevent any real dialogue between new construction, the rose garden,and the riverfront..There may be a solution that incorporates the MC in a future development, but I think it would compromise the site's full potential.

Personally, I don't want another stadium there either.. Think 20 years down the road when a million more people live here and streetcar serves broadway... The MC and Portland public school lots have incredible potential...


Anyone have pics of what the Oregonian building used to look like?

Either it is Pietro Belluschi worst work or the Oregonian has ruined it.

Also considering the printing press buildings near PGE Park, the Oregonian is responsible for some of the worst buildings in town.


"...with absolutely no relationship to it's context..." jason

It's not clear to me what your idea of 'context' is in this situation. Seems to me that the MC has a very strong relationship to its context which is, as you've actually pointed out "...dramatic views)".

Aren't dramatic views just one of the greatest assets to having people get inspired and fired up about whatever event it is that they have an opportunity to attend in a public arena?


actually ws is right about that, the MC has a much better relationship to context than the Rose Garden...but then again the context that MC has is its relationship to the clean slate that is the Rose Quarter when it wiped away the neighborhood that use to be there...but that is a much different topic and has nothing to do with the present.


"...but then again the context that MC has is its relationship to the clean slate that is the Rose Quarter when it wiped away the neighborhood that use to be there..." dennis

I believe the loss of that neighborhood and the vitality it provided is recognized as one of the regrettable sacrifices that was made in order to make way for the MC. Something I've been wondering for awhile now, is whether restoring residential and retail space...essential components of a real neighborhood.... to the MC/Rose Garden might be part of the answer to bringing life over a greater number of hours on the clock to this depleted area.

I suppose that the economy of surface area parking construction compared to below ground parking is one reason this hasn't happened.

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