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Bob R.

If you'd like a "Before" photo of this building to see the dreary facade, I think I have one on file. Send it to your contact email listed on this blog?


I agree with the pre-completion assessment that this was going to be another under-achieving portland building. While the upper facade is not breathtaking, you are quite right about the charge of life brought to the streetscape. People are flocking there. I walked by this morning and nearly every table on the ground floor was occupied. Only question left...is the space that inviting, or is it the food? (I've heard the pop tarts are quite good) Either way...Portland needs more of it.


I actually like the pattern. it is very subtle. Almost 1960s. Not every building in downtown has to be flashy. This one in particular is a modest one i appreciate the restraint exercised. However, I am worried about what the light quality is like in any of the non-corner guest rooms. Also, is there a lightwell on the backside? I will have to investigate. Oh, and for the love of God, Marriot get a better corporate logo or signage, that just looks awful up there.

Ken Bauer

I think it turned out pretty darn cool. I wasn't a big fan as it was being constructed, but now, it looks real nice. Two thumbs up to Marriot & SERA Architects.


i agree, sort of, with the complaint about the logo. it really does a disservice to the facade. however, i think just about any logo would look tacky up there. there oughtta be a law...

You Go Girl!

I think the building facade is very cool and fits well into the context. I'm interested to see how the precast conc. holds up in appearance over the years but in the mean time, as a professional who works near this building, it's refreshing, bright, interesting, and vibrant. A much needed facelift and shot in the arm to that part of town. Hoorah!


The Marriot sign jumped out for me too as the only distracting aspect of the facade. Instead of tacking-on the standard sign, imagine more subtly integrating a sign into the material of the facade, perhaps cast into some of the concrete panels at the top. Maybe it's not to late for the talented designers at SERA to talk their client into a refinement of the signage?


...or just eliminate the sign at the top of he building all together.

By the way, I agree that any building that enlivens the public realm of the street space is a success!


The light and dark of the concrete and glazing is pretty striking from a distance and the buildin is a nice addition. I wish that the textured portion read more strongly so that the complexity of the pattern stood out. You can see it in the difference between the detail photo and the full facade.


I also agree with Laurence about the sign...


Coming down Broadway, I have to say, I think this building stands out just right compared to the other buildings around it.

I almost feel that this building comes off as what Portland should strive to be when it comes to architecture...the street level of the building is active and inviting, the Original has a very open and inviting look to it (though I have yet to try the food, their hostess staff does look quite striking).

The exterior of the building is a simple pattern that is repeated every two floors. I would have to say, much like Twelve West (ZGF's new building), this one is going to have that timeless feeling where we will appreciate the design and what it adds to the city for years to come...unlike the Portland building, where I have a desire to kick a certain architect in the balls for designing it.


i don't really care for the building aesthetically, and find it awkwardly resolved at the corners and the parapet. but I'm glad something positive happened with the property, and i also heard they have burgers with voodoo donuts for the buns in the restaurant downstairs.

i especially like the last photo with the window washer casting a long early morning shadow. that's also the only time of day that the elevation looks varied and interesting.


In all fairness to M G , the City gave him a tiny budget to build the Portland Building , and he could not build the Design he intended. Not that I am a fan , but it would have been much better with a normal budget.


billb, Graves wanted to put ribbons on the building and a little model city on the roof...the city should of walked away from that proposal when it had the chance.


This building looks cheap and ugly. I thought it was a public housing project when it was being constructed. Maybe that's what we should expect from a corporate hotel chain but I was really hoping SERA would exercise some design integrity. Specifically, the windows look small and uninviting. The scored concrete underneath looks like PTAC units.


like it or not, the one thing everyone has to admit, this new design is much better connected to the street that the original building was, which in Portland, that means everything.


For being a simple, basic hotel without Vegas-like design aspirations, this refurbished building looks pretty good, as many of the people commenting above have noted, and represents a great improvement to the area.

Alternately jogging the window opening positions from level to level turns out here to be a clever trick allowing the buildings' simple box shape to posses visual interest it wouldn't otherwise have. This is playful, a bit like a quilt pattern. In comparison, imagine if the window openings had been arranged more conventionally; in vertical columns, each positioned directly over the other.

Wondering how the concrete panels that the building facade is constructed with will visually weather is good. It looks bright and appealing now, but all surfaces, even something smooth as polished granite or glass accumulates dirt. A surface which this building's panels may have, with a lot of tooth accumulates much more. That dirt retains moisture and grows stuff, darkening, streaking and staining surfaces. Will this building's exterior require more than usual washing or painting to keep it looking bright?

This is one of the reasons I really like high fired terra cotta over other more porous surfaces.


I was pretty concerned about the precast as it was going up. But, it turned out well and I think SERA's handling of the window and surface patterning is quite successful.

An open street presence should be a given, especially in this part of town. So, I'm not sure why all the praise for the fact of its existence. Should we praise the inclusion of a window for each hotel room or indoor plumbing?

I wish the corners and first floor were handled with as much skill as the precast arrangement. Those areas, the edges, seem very awkward and heavy handed. Even the arrangement of spaces in the Original and their relations to the street feel weird.

It's all very twitchy.


I actually work just across the street for this building...and while not anything amazing, is such a great change from the building that was there (with that horrible aggregate coating...ugh). The vitality it's brought to the area is an amazing night/day transformation...will it stand the test of time...it's generic enough that it probably will. On a tangent...I actually like the Marriott City Center...I've always been drawn to rounded buildings...especially in rectilinear-minded PDX, it is a nice contrast. :-)


No doubt, this is a vast improvement over what preceded it. So, um, good job?


This building rings of something common in Portland - a great urban response with some average-at-best architecture to go with it. While this building is a great new addition to the neighborhood because of a re-energized response to the street, it is still a drab overall facade. It looks like a bad attempt at being playful. I have come to expect much more from SERA.

I assume that the interiors are much better. Lisa is one of the best in town. I will try to get inside soon.

BTW - Is it possible to get more shades of gray in the Portland skyline? Enough already. I'm depressed enough...


Looks a bit "punchcard" to my eye...

A little interesting color in that concrete would have given it some juice.

Right now it looks camouflaged to disappear into the Oregon winter.


The concrete seems a lot whiter than gray, to me. I like the brightness, actually.

The north side may have a green hue by its second winter. That'll be cool.



Drab, drab, drab. I don't believe that you could design a facade to look much more drab. If that was the intent, they win. To say this building is an improvement is unnecessary, the building before was abandoned and awful, of course it's an improvement. A marvelous opportunity was wasted here to make this building sing, to say something at least, make some sort of statement. Now it just looks like a prison built in 1970, ordered out of a catalogue and plopped on top of an unrelated decent cafe. Does Portland really need any more boring, bleak architecture with no personality? Nope, we got enough of that already. I really don't think we should be rewarding or praising this kind of design mediocrity, that only perpetuates more design mediocrity.
On the positive side, definite kudos on the LEED rating with a corporate client, and thanks for printing those numbers about cost savings, with info like that it's easy to sell sustainable design.


"... it is still a drab overall facade." Mudd

"Right now it looks camouflaged to disappear into the Oregon winter." Bo

"Drab, drab, drab. I don't believe that you could design a facade to look much more drab." "...A marvelous opportunity was wasted here to make this building sing..." jm

You folks offer '0' suggestions or examples of what the contractor might have done to accomplish what you imagine would have been better. It shouldn't be too hard to come up with a few. To me, this building presents a far better exterior than for example, the south side of the Benson Hotel annex on SW Broadway. The annex's main east side isn't so hot either.

If, or as the economy improves, windows in that building will be lit up during Oregon's dark overcast days. I always enjoy seeing that.


actually, ws - that's a good point. what COULD the contractor have done to make the building better? because the architect clearly ran out of ideas.


It WILL be a blessing when the economy gets better so all of you depressed souls can find something more constructive to spend your time on. It is beginning to look like there is a group of you that use this blog as an outlet to flex your brain to wrap yourself up in your ego and believe you are so much better. Really get a life Mudd, Ben, and jm. Let us know when you do something worth talking about, otherwise your negativity offers nothing but your transparent ego. No I don't work for SERA.



Apparently critical architectural dialogue makes you angry, if this is so may I politely suggest you don't read public architecture forums. I'll tell you what makes me angry: when someone creates a publicly visible and important building in the downtown of my city and doesn't do a very good job. Makes me really angry. Is this building terrible? No. It's just really drab. SERA has done some good work before, and hopefully they do more in the future, they didn't do a very good job on this one and as a member of the Architecture community it is my responsibility to voice my opinion on this with a critical opinion. It's actually a rather important tradition in architecture, with the hoped for outcome being better buildings in the future, and stronger efforts from designers due to feedback from their peers. Do you really think an Architecture office should be immune to criticism for their highly public work, especially when their effort falls short? And by the way, the sentence "otherwise your negativity offers nothing but your transparent ego" doesn't make any sense.


i agree with all of you.


"...what COULD the contractor have done to make the building better? because the architect clearly ran out of ideas." ben

Maybe that was a problem for the architect. Other than just looking at the building, I don't have a way of knowing. Of course, I've already said I think the building is pretty good for the purpose it needs to serve. I've read articles here and elsewhere long enough to know that the final outcome of an architects efforts have to do with much, more than the chance that they've run out of ideas.

For example, architects have lots of ideas....whether they're able to realize them in a building design depends much upon the contractor. There's lots of ways this building could have been different than it is. Could have had a steel and glass exterior. Is that what people are missing? Could have had ornamentation...relief figures and design, sculptures like the Governor Hotel on 10th. Is that what people are missing?

Lots of criticism...which is just fine...but lacking any suggestions for how it could have been improved, that criticism isn't worth much.


Critical thinking is fine, which suggests you have something thoughtful, or perhaps introspective to share. That is not the case it is more like throwing tomatoes. Very big of you to stand up and represent the city and profession of architecture, but don't speak as though you omnipotent. With such standing one would expect once again something more thoughtful or provoking. Drab, and the best, "I don't believe that you could design a facade to look much more drab. If that was the intent, they win."

As far as my statement that makes no sense to you. I will try to break it down into simpleton terms for you. Since your comments are so subjective, and you are free to have them. No one is asking you to shut up or give up your freedom of speech. By showing your spite towards something and blaming others for the crap of the city without offering up something better (critical thinking) is a way of making yourself feel more important - separated. Your ego is touched by your words, and you feel through your anonymity that you have made yourself appear better than the rest. By that it is obvious, and therefore transparent to me and others I suppose. Try not to confuse comments with criticism. Your comments are not critical, they are just contrary...that is not provocative.



I do appreciate the distinction you make between criticism and contrariness though I'm not sure a design charette is tenable in this forum.

Can we assume you're furiously of the opinion that this building is perfect as is?

For my part, I wonder why the PC extends to the corners at each floor. Why not let the window assembly hold the corner? Or why not introduce the black (stone?) panels there and keep them out of plane with the PC?

I find the spandrels that connect the two canopies to be rather jarring. If openness was the idea then provide vision-glass throughout. If there is some technical reason VG was not possible then that zone might do better in keeping with the canopies.

Is the west-side canopy necessary? I suggest removing it. Or, maybe it doesn't need to be so heavy. Perhaps it servies as a light shelf, in which case I'd just skinny-up or make it an extension of the window assembly.

The doors at the entrance to the Original are odd. And the round windows? I realize this may be an attempt by the restaurant to signify 'diner'. Shouldn't they be stainless steel in that case? No, probably not. Aluminum doors with large lights would be fine, there.

I also think the first floor window assembly could use less contrast. I suggest a darker paint on the exterior side of the mullions.


"...what COULD the contractor have done to make the building better? because the architect clearly ran out of ideas." ben

Architects don't generally suffer from a lack of ideas. They suffer from too many ideas that have nothing to do with each other and can't be corralled into a beautiful whole.


I don't think the building is even close to perfect. It makes a strong case of ethics though of saving some of vacated fabric - nothing kills a city more than that alone. I agree i think the corners look out of place and really don't relate well to the pattern that is on the face. They could have added some complexity here with the rhythm or something different in the treatment? Either two stories of glass, with a band at the floor, or no PC at all? I agree with other comments that the windows seem a little small and punchy especially for a "hospitality" building type. I can appreciate though the thought that went into trying to break down the fenestration pattern with the pattern in the concrete. I do think the light color is refreshing. But I wish they would have put a little more thought into the top of the building - it could have been a little more geometric or sculptural given the white palette. The canopy does look heavy, and probably cheap.


Alright Russ, I wasn't going to do this but I think now I will since you seem like such a jerk, so let's break down your statement here, and by the way, congratulations on creating a personal battle instead of a dialogue about the building, I feel a bit bad about stooping to it, but I'm also feeling a bit ornery. (To everyone else, please feel free to ignore this, it is aimed exclusively at Russ).

"Critical thinking is fine, which suggests you have something thoughtful, or perhaps introspective to share"

(my original statement was a statement against mediocrity in design, a valid point in any city)

"That is not the case it is more like throwing tomatoes."

(Perhaps you should learn how to write)

"Very big of you to stand up and represent the city and profession of architecture,"

(thank you, with all the people like you out there battling for mediocrity, someone has to do it)

"but don't speak as though you omnipotent." (once again may I suggest remedial writing courses)

"With such standing one would expect once again something more thoughtful or provoking."

(Obviously made you think and provoked you)

"Drab," (true statement)

and the best, "I don't believe that you could design a facade to look much more drab. If that was the intent, they win."

(also a true statement, and clever at that).

"As far as my statement that makes no sense to you. I will try to break it down into simpleton terms for you."

(Not necessary, a simple coherent thought would do)

"Since your comments are so subjective, and you are free to have them. No one is asking you to shut up or give up your freedom of speech."

(I think actually you did, and by now you are just rambling)

"By showing your spite towards something and blaming others for the crap of the city"

(They designed it, I didn't)

"without offering up something better, critical thinking"

(not the definition of critical thinking, and this isn't a forum where I can teach people how to design)

"is a way of making yourself feel more important - separated."


"Your ego is touched by your words, and you feel through your anonymity that you have made yourself appear better than the rest."

(This is a cute attempt a psychology, are we to assume you are a amateur psychologist perhaps?)

"By that it is obvious, and therefore transparent"

(totally redundant)

to me and others I suppose.

(suppose away, see your earlier remark about free speech, you're free to suppose all you want)

"Try not to confuse comments with criticism."

(You should also perhaps keep this in mind)

Your comments are not critical, they are just contrary...


"that is not provocative."

(obviously provoked you though didn't it?).

OK, so here is my suggestions for what they could do better next time. Fire the people that designed this project, or move them to a spot on the team where their individual strengths can come out (not design, perhaps technical areas, marketing, ext.). There must be 1,000 unemployed architects out there right now, some of them undoubtedly good designers, go hire some of these people and have them design the next building and work your butt off to make sure it turns out better than this one, because, for many reasons (too many to list here, but lots of them have been mentioned already by myself, yourself, and others) this building is now a bit of a blight on the city.


bore...masturbate somewhere else. your criticism is empty.


a) why are the blank corners on the ne and sw treated equally with the live corner on the nw? they should be different solutions to different problems, not a static symmetry.

b) why express the awful thin parapet at the top? what could this possibly achieve, other than the fact that the patterned body of the facade is merely applied? and if the intent is to have a thin facade, what's with the muscular corners? it's so f'ing confusing.

c) ever heard of color?

d) clearly the designer was going for distinguishing the corners from the patchwork facade. it didn't work. they are neither complimentary nor contrasted. mushy is the word the comes to mind.

e) the black stone at the base is tacky. so are the proportions of the canopy and the surrounding glazing. if tacky isn't getting specific enough for some on this blog, then my apologies.

f) the breakup of the base facade is forced. forced is like tacky. you know it when you see it. but i'll try to explain: the random four equal bays on oak have nothing to do with anything. what the hell are they there for? they are forced. if something isn't going to relate to anything, at least make them cool. they are neither cool nor sensical. they are forced and boring.

g) it really looks like there are window units under the windows. what did the energy study look like if the glass went to the floor? how about spandrel there? may have made for a more delightful proportion.

h) this is typical of service firm mentality. get the big picture done in schematic design, let the cheap kids work out the details, but don't give them the ability to forward the design. that first sketch by the partner rules and make it work. this is why so many buildings in portland suck.

i) i'd like to see the wall section posted for our review, since we've been asked to get into the nitty gritty. how is the weather barrier handled with a precast skin that is installed as a panelized unit pulled in from the inside? where does the water go? i've seen many precast systems like this and the solutions are not good. they invite moisture into the building. i'm genuinely curious to find out how a leed building pulled this off. i'm not just whining here.

BTW Russ, you may think we don't know what we're talking about, but you're wrong.

Also BTW, it's not just bashing on SERA. I like their union gospel mission building on 3rd and burnside very much. it's when people stand up for bad design just to be nice that it drives me crazy.

although while i'm at it on the union gospel mission - it's time to install the fall protection and take the orange cones off the roof, guys.


hey Ben,
Good stuff - I hope this will ressonate with the designers and maybe even get some validity rather than "it felt good response". It is funny you mention the wood at the base as being applied, when one could say the same about the window pattern - both of fad right now. The Union Gospel building is honest I suppose, but one thing that drives me crazy is all the uncordinated crap on the front and that damn sign that does not fit.


I am new to Portland. Do you have to be an architect to post a comment here?


Bob Loblaw

Good job Dennis.

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