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Nice Renovation - except I wish they would keep and repair original windows instead of always ripping them out. Still, we could use more projects like these, where small, presumably affordable, housing is renovated and original character restored. Too often the first solution is to tear things down. Case in point: a planned development at NE 6th and Couch will lead to the loss of two smallish early 20th century apartment buildings.


I think you may have meant Rebuilding Center rather than Rejuvination in referencing Communitecture work? I love that projects like this are being done. There are alot of apartment buildings around town that are not aging very well and to ecologically restore them makes more sense than much of the new 'green' construction. Hats off to the whole crew on this.


That's a beautiful building and I'm glad to see it carry on so well equipped. Years back, I used to go to the T-horse gatherings. Hippies? Sure, but in a very good sense. People involved in putting that idea together are first rate innovative thinkers. Another guy associated with the T-horse is the person that started up FreeGeek...sorry, his name slips my mind.


Great coverage, Brian...agree with all above...great to see such projects happening whenever possible...that really is a handsome building with a really welcoming-looking interior. Also agree with the first poster, the possible demolition of the 2 buildings on NE 6th and Couch is very upsetting.


Great renovation...but I curse the day all those miserable rotting and uncomfortable cobb benches showed up around SE. Wasn't Mark responsible for these? I've never seen them function as "public space" or seen a soul using them to...well...sit.


Yes, City Repair and the Village Building Convergence are responsible for many of the rather uncomfortable and out of context cob benches dotting the southeast. To me, the intention was a great one - intersection repair and bringing back public placemaking to our street corners. Unfortunately the form to express that place making became many of these hobbit like cob benches that don't seem to attract the very people that was core part of the original intention. I hope the forms can evolve for future place making efforts.

ineeda drink

The other night I thought I saw bilbo baggins and a couple of his friends sitting on one of the cobb benches.


When you innovate, rather than go with the guaranteed sure thing, you try things different. They don't always work out, but then again, because of this willingness to do something unusual,sometimes the results are way better than the guaranteed sure thing.

At any rate, it's pretty solid bet that getting rid of the funky cobb benches is going to be a far sight easier than getting rid of say, the tower part of the Ladd Tower... . I'd be happy to make a regular practice of sitting on those benches if that tower would go away, or be shorter, or look like something besides a table cigarette lighter.


ws - very true. that is a horrid looking building. who designed it? how does something like that get through design review?

Mark Lakeman

From Mark Lakeman at Communitecture:

I'll comment on the contextual aspects of cob benches farther below, but first- thanks Brian for a very nice piece of writing on The Claire, and also your comments about Communitecture. About The Claire, Frederick has done a wonderful thing for the inner SE community with this effort. He's set a great standard with integrity and I hope that people notice and are influenced by The Claire. It was an honor for us to be able to support Frederick through our work.

Regarding the cob projects that City Repair has been helping to create all over the city, Communitecture's part in this work has been help each community to develop a design that emerges from within their OWN culture. If kids say it should look like a dragon, who am I to argue? This process has been incredibly educational for me, going deeper into issues of the public realm that university or conventional professional work ever took me. Each project that has been created is an actual reflection of a living, place-based culture in that locale. When you consider that in many cases Portland neighborhoods almost never reflect community interaction within the public right of way of the neighborhood zone, though a neighborhood may have existed for over a hundred years, it is actually an enormous achievement to have people come outside and work together in these ways. What it looks like to outsiders who don't bother to know the story or process scarcely matters.

With all that I now understand of urban design and architecture, and who we seem to be trying to become in Portland, it feels to me that the world I want to serve is who we are ready to be. I support each of the cob projects that people all over Portland have been creating because they are part of that emergent world; they have been imagined, designed, funded, and built by local communities, and are reflective of their own stories and metaphors. Accessable, non-toxic, inclusive, inherently sculptural, localized in identity and materials. Each is a ecological and social model of sustainability, beginning with collaborative processes of sharing and listening.

Again, for many neighborhoods these arrive as the first "Historic" expression of community collaboration. Naturally something co-created will appear strange in a world used to consuming commodities, in which design is the province of experts and design literacy is not braodly held. It's fine but misguided to judge the appearance of a thing without knowing the story or context of it, or without trying to understand the motives or goals of people who are working in their own place to solve their own problems. Because I know many of these stories, what I get to enjoy is a richer experience of being in Portland.

Have a lovely springtime everyone!


Aneeda, I thought you probably would know the details surrounding the Ladd Tower and how it came to be. Ankrom Moisan was the architectural firm. The design and construction of the tower and its role in the destruction of the Rosefriend Apartment building was vigorously debated on this weblog.

It's a heckuva story, from the exposition of the power struggle between people seeking aesthetics and infrastructure conservation and those beholden to the bottom line and the prospect of profit, right down to the church's larcenous former preacher. I feel like I learned a lot from that episode in Portland's history.

Mark, I found your comment to be a very helpful explanation of your working philosophy.


Yes, I followed the Rosefriend Apartment destruction, but didn't realize that this was the result of all that. Thanks (I think) for the update.

Thanks, Mark, for your response. It's too nice outside to argue with you.


Having lived in one of those two buildings on 6th and Couch, I'll be glad to see them go. The prior owner let those properties slip into neglect and serious disrepair -- but the original architecture was fantastic !!! I left as the new owner was dismantling the gothic column and porch structure due to dry-rot. Sad, because it looked so classic Portland, but I understand why that property needs to be redevleoped.


Redevelopment, when needed, is fine. I think a very valid question though, is whether in redevelopment, the design of replacement buildings, if that is that route that happens to be decided upon, has to follow some latest trend outa-the-box extruded this'n'that metal with glass and ipe wood formula.

That's what a lot of developers seem to want to do, (or feel compelled to do, out of economic constraints...), either oblivious to or out of complete disregard for surrounding context of the setting that they're building in.

I'm glad the 109 escaped that fate. That it was able to do that in the hands of people sensitive to its significance raises the question of what kind of consideration the early 20th century apartment buildings at NE 6th and Couch that Val and ChrisPDX were given, and what take their place.

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