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Double J

Another textbook example of how we could really use a real architecture critic at the Oregonian.

David tries his best but a true architecture critic has a weekly bully pulpit for advancing and provoking clearer civic agendas and critiques. Reportage isn't enough in this case, glad you unpacked the process a bit more.

Overall, Portland needs to rethink its process vs. results schema for civic discourse.


It was a mistake to think that an acceptable plan would emerge from such a simple process with no constrains. However, if viewed as a first idea generation phase of a multiphase process, then the wide scope and lack of constrains make sense. Engaging the broader community generated some interesting ideas that could help enhance a “Base Case” scenario to be more than a just the status quo. The process also helped reconnect Portlanders with their Coliseum.

The initial demolition plan seemed to be a back-room deal based on no public process. The latest Memorial Coliseum process was a knee jerk overcorrection to the initial no process plan to tear down the Coliseum. Despite these flawed first steps, if the city can agree upon a reasonable cost target and make clear the preservation constrains, then I would like to see what Rick Potestio could design within those Base Case constrains.

In addition to the winter garden-like public space and exhibit hall remodel, the idea of connecting this space to a riverfront park across Interstate and the esplanade, even if just simple foot and bike paths around the silos, would help enliven and reconnect this area with the rest of the city.

Brian Libby

Very well said, Mr. Linder!

Chicago Duck

As a former Portlander who now lives in Chicago, I would love to see the rose quarter evolve into a Wrigleyville-esque area. A neighborhood with bars and restaurants where people want to be even when games aren't scheduled, and more so when the are!

I'm not too keen on the zoning of the area, but wouldn't multiple rows of 4-story walk ups in the area add some character to the area and provide it with patrons?

How about building another brewery in the area?

I like Linder's idea above about connection the space across the river via a foot/bike bridge to bring the east and west sides of Portland together.

I also believe Brian posted photos of an empty parking lots on the waterfront where Rose Quarter employees park - this is a HUGE opportunity to liven up the area - let's develop it.


Brian wrote: "it was great that the Coliseum was saved from demolition for a baseball stadium, a ludicrous plan."

Hey Brian - you won - congratulations - you can stop being such a jerk about it now.

Brian Libby

Wow, Greg. That's either the most insulting nice compliment I ever received, or it's the nicest diss.

Seriously, though, I wish I could believe we've won. But two of the three finalists for the Coliseum renovation would gut the building and ruin it. If that happens, saving the Coliseum for a baseball stadium will have been more or less in vain.

Once the City Council chooses either the Blazer plan or the Base Case, though, I will grant you all the favor of easing off the Coliseum crusade - and happily so.

Angel Morse

All athletic building design processes tend to be flawed. Too many customers with different agendas tends to be the ultimate culprit.


finally brian, a column with teeth! nice work on that.

the one issue i have with your argument is the damning of the 'process' and the encouragement of top-down thinking. the messiness of the 'process' is the messiness of democracy--and i don't think that's such a bad thing, in light of what came immediately before (the ball-park fiasco).

the big problem seems to be the promise that this process would lead to an actual project and contract with a development team. what it should have promised is more a catalog of ideas--a sort of democratic think-tank--that would give the mayor and council members the direction that they need to THEN solicit a real project. if you can't feed them the carrot, then don't dangle it.

Brian Libby

Thanks, G.T.

Interesting comment/idea about the messy democratic process in this case for the Rose Quarter/Coliseum as creator of a catalog of ideas. It might have worked better that way.


I have to laugh. I have repeatedly pointed out that this entire process was flawed because the cost of these various proposals was not being considered. I was repeatedly advised by folks on this board that such limitations on the creative process were unwanted/unnecessary. Now, there is finally a realization that without money, we can't really do anything. The Blazers are the only entity that has money. Their plan will "win" this contest for that reason alone. If they choose not to pursue their vision for the MC, you will absolutely have the same old building with the same old problems.

Brian Libby

I have to laugh too, Marc.

Although it's always been about the historic architecture for me and not cost, I also was carping about cost from the get-go, saying that gutting Memorial Coliseum was prohibitively expensive.

But let me be perfectly clear in response to your last point:

Just because a historic building gets saved doesn't mean it has to have problems. If the City decides to preserve the building, with or without the Blazers, but fails to restore the Coliseum in a way that restores it to its original integrity, that will be a huge mistake. But there are countless examples of historic architecture all over the world that has been made profitable.

Indeed, this debate is ending up being about money. But money shouldn't be the only factor. Even if preserving the MC takes extra funds, it's worth it to retain such a landmark. But as it happens, saving the MC is the best financial option.

Rebecca Horsenet M.D.

Very well said Brian Libby. Bravo.

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