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Really cool old pictures, Brian, I love this sort of stuff.


Thanks for posting these great archival photos and drawings, Brian.

I HATE the enormous parking lot, but it's interesting to see how prominently it was shown in the rendering.

Scott R

Brian, this is great stuff! I would encourage you to visit the City's archives more often to mine jewels like these. By the way, I seem to recall reading something concerning the City's archives relocating to the PSU campus?? If true, that will be a step up from an old incinerator.

Also, I'd be careful "pouring" anything over any of the old correspondence, documents, etc.


Brian, you'll be happy to know that anyone with a fleeting interest in baseball was blackballed.... errr, not chosen for the committee either.

Nice research and photos, thanks.

Ken Bauer

Hi Brian, great research. Remember in the late 70's when there was a proposal to add a second deck to the Coliseum and bring the capacity to 17,000. If you could find that rendering, that would be outstanding. There was also a proposal to build a new arena to the west of MC that would be built partially over the Willamette River. That would be a cool find as well. Thanks for all the history stuff.

Laurence Q

I agree the Memorial Colosseum, as a building-of-its-time, is worthy of admiration and preservation. But I am less taken by it as a vision of the future.

As a "vision of the future", that particular rendering shows a more disturbing vision of things to come. We should always judge a building by it's relationship to it's environment, it's contribution to forming outdoor, urban civic space. That rendering more illustrates the folly of that era in which the car was awarded dominance over our public realm. The "seas of parking" shown in that rendering are more akin to the suburban shopping malls, high schools, commercial strips, and office parks that were spreading out around every American city in the latter 20th C. The vision did not include dense mixed-use housing around the Colosseum, nor street cars linking it to any other district or neighborhood. Highways and parking lots...a vision that we are now trying desperately to undo.

The building, alone, is impressive, though.


Acres of cars surrounding it certainly don't enhance the appearance of the MC. I'd be all for housing, commercial and retail buildings around it, but if was decided to conceive of and develop the use for those parking lots that would most benefit from and at the same time, enhance the impression the coliseum is capable of presenting to the city, what might that use be?

First of all, probably anything proposed might be best if it was scaled smaller than the MC, to allow the building to retain its visual and physical prominence. With that thought in mind, the entire area surrounding the MC as a combination park seems right. A skate park would be good...maybe some tennis courts. Seems too, like there would be room for a landscape garden park for people, including visitors to the city staying in nearby hotels and attending events at the convention center, to stroll, relax and absorb a sense of Portland's extraordinary natural and architectural sensibility.

Marc Hull

"Velodrome, amateur athletic complex or anything else people dream up." That statement really nails what I find problematic about this whole process. It's fine to have pie in the sky dreams. However, at some point, folks are going to have to wake up and realize money is required to do these things. If nothing else, the fiasco over finding a new home for the Beavers should have taught us that the citizens of this city do not see value in putting money into public sports structures. A small group of enthusiasts might think the best public use of this facility is to turn it into a velodrome, but good luck getting the public financial support for that. Not to mention the Blazers have the right of first development for this property. Thus, what ever crazy notions folks come up with will have to pass muster with the Blazers. I'm not so sure they will support the velodrome concept, not incidentally. And what will being placed on the national register do to the chance of transforming this facility into something marginally pleasant? I have serious reservations that many of the crazy schemes mentioned would be feasible under those rules. So, again, this appears to be a small interest group of architects who want to preserve something they think is attractive regardless of whether it is in the best interest of the city or represents the best use of prime city property.



I'd rather look to the very talented architects of this city for inspiration than the bean counters. Sure, it needs to be financially feasible but a building this important in a location this important at this important time in our city's existance must not be driven by the bottom line. We are living at a time where we will make this a city of the world. Let's not dumb it down in the process.


Awesome images! How very Portland to have the requisite VW in some of the photos.

Marc Hull


I've got no beef with inspiration. But if the exercise is completely divorced from reality, as it has been with respect to the MC, then I don't see what good it does anyone. If creativity is what you crave, there may be nothing more important than identifying a creative way of financing improvements to this facility. You're going to need that more than anything. Unlike the architects in this city, few people are falling all over themselves to preserve this facility. I'd wager even fewer are willing to finance it. I think it's time to extract the head from the sand.

Brian Libby


I disagree (respectfully) with the notion that MC preservationists have been divorced from economic reality.

One of the main points we've tried to make for saving the Coliseum is that renovating it and keeping the building as a multi-purpose arena is the most cost effective of any of the Rose Quarter plans. Memorial Coliseum only needs a few million dollars in upkeep, but it actually hosted more events than even the Rose Garden arena last year. The city has merely been delinquent in investing in repairs. But the building is a proven money maker. What's more, the Coliseum hosts far more events annually than a baseball stadium on this site ever would have.

If economics is your primary concern, saving Memorial Coliseum is best. If architecture is your concern, saving Memorial Coliseum is best.


so how about having one arena that gets full use instead of maintaining two separate arenas that end up spliting the uses?


I will say it again, PSU Vikings Basketball team should be playing all of their home games at the Memorial Coliseum. With their growing support and their two recent NCAA appearances, I have a feeling they would bring in some money.

Brian Libby

Poncho: great idea! Let's tear down the Rose Garden. :)


Mr Hull , Civic Good is not about money. We don't require that our Fire Department make a profit. The virtue of a City is that we come together to create a richer and more beautiful life for one and all. That includes Schools [no profit] , Parks [no profit] , and yes , the fine work of Public Architecture , The M.C.


billb, usually arenas, stadiums, and ballparks are constructed with the intent that they should make money...MC isnt a building where firefighters rest their trucks between jobs, it is an arena that was meant to hold large gatherings and make money.

Luke Perry

Thanks for the cool pics Brian. On the Beatles visit in 65'.....they actually skipped Seattle that tour as far as I know and played Portland only because the promoters guaranteed them a certain take. I think it was 50k for the 2 shows but I could be wrong. So they took it! They went from here to LA to do the famous Hollywood Bowl concerts which were taped for release later. And on a side note, the Beatles had just finished the famous Shea Stadium concert a week previous and they also had the famous "dental experience" a few weeks before that if I am not mistaken.

Those are some of the best photos that I have seen of the Coliseum under construction. Just great stuff. On a side note, a few years back I was doing a tour of the Coliseum and the lady in the management office pulled out a artist rendering that had been in storage for 40 years and was just discovered. The original plan was to have a amphitheater near the water that was to be part of the Memorial Coliseum complex. That obviously never came to fruition for whatever reason. I asked her if I could have the sketch but she said no. I wonder what happened to it?

Morgan Pintarich

I love the Coliseum. S.O.M. did a truly fine job of siting the building . . . I also understand some of the drawbacks: the painted-plywood frieze around the top of the curtain wall; and the hard, hard, finished concrete interior . . . However, the Coliseum is truly a pure example of Heroic Modernism. The 'Blazers always played better when they played in "The Glass Palace."

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