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Ben Bennett

Portland and its Architects should invite Michael Graves to join them in a lifetime learning experience and explore the Portland Building, its place and its occupants.
Learn what worked then and what is needed now ... then preserve, re-purpose and re-energize it for the future.

We learn from every person/place/thing that touches us as we go through life ... hopefully these bits of wisdom find their place in our lives sooner rather than later. 


I really hate the bottom of this building (blue tile portion) and I'd like to see it completely redesigned so restaurants, cafes & shops could adorn the street level portion so that it livens up and the horrible tile can cease to exist, and the interior gutted and rethought. I like the idea of an atrium. In addition to having small windows, I believe they are also heavily tinted. I sort of enjoy the quirkiness of the Portland Building otherwise, but at street level it's hideous.

Doug Kelso

My own whimsical idea is to gut the interior and turn the building into a Museum of Contemporary Art and a downtown arts/community center. Best use I can think of for a post-modern monument with tiny windows that apparently fails in its intended use as an office building.

But I expect there's no funding for that. Besides, the City probably needs office space close to City Hall.

Eva Tho

Being in a preservation architecture firm in San Diego it is difficult to say this but I think the building should be demolished. I remember back in the 80's how Graves was the "it" kid to many in the architectural studio, much to the chagrin of the design professors. Once I visited the Portland building in the 90's I was appalled. Similar experience in 2000 when I visited Graves' Synderman House in Fort Wayne,Indiana. It was abandon and rotting. (too costly to repair and upkeep!) It became obvious that Graves is not such a good architect. PERIOD. He cannot carry through drawings into details. Budget is always a problem for all architects. You need to think about this right from the first conversation. The Star architects vary in competency. Some deserve praise - others including Graves, rode the publicity machine with little effort to really understand the process of architecture.
Only the drawings should be considered historic, they were the influence on the post modern movement. ...Ah, so I would say demo the edifice. Ultimately the decision can be based on the health , welfare and safety of the occupants. It has a negative soul sucking energy. Blast away.

Ian Johnson

It's a fantastically depressing building from the outside; I can't imagine being required to work in there. It might make a good prison, though. Just a thought. In short, keep the drawings and destroy the building — I'll push the button if you like.

Matthew Ginn

Just had a chance to listen to the OPB piece--good interview, Brian.

That said, I'm gradually drawing to the conclusion that the building should just be razed and a new one built. (Although, as Randy Gragg pointed out, the cost of a new building may be prohibitive at this point.)

While I am generally inclined towards preservation, I think we must be careful to distinguish between historical preservation and architectural hoarding. The Portland Building may have some claim to historical significance as the first postmodern building and a significant milestone for an arguably important architect but, as a building, by all accounts it is a failure. A noble failure, perhaps, but a failure nonetheless.

Photographs and drawings preserve the Portland Building's idea. It seems like a rather costly proposition, though, to maintain a monument to calamity for curiosity's sake when a new, more functional work of architecture could take its place in Portland's skyline.

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