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Marla Brown

My husband's firm, GBD Architects, was in the Auditorium Building for 20 years. Many lunches and celebrations at the Lotus during those years. Even spent time at the Rodeo for lunch. We hope the Auditorium can withstand all the building activity.

Scott Tice

Thank you Brian.

Jeff Joslin

This is a truly tragic loss.

The Brewery Blocks is a more-than-appropriate reference. Though perhaps more motivated by tax credits, that's not the entire story. The facadectomy wrapped around Whole Foods was a labor of love an historic reverence. That, the retention and stabilizing of the stack, and the mothballing of the armory until it could find a use; were all accommodate by a much leaner project in a much leaner and more uncertain time. In other words, this facade - at least - could have been retained with sufficient will. Capital or engineering were not the constraints.

But at the end of the day, it principally comes down to Owner Consent, which is a STATE wide problem, not Portland-specific. The owner consent statute was strategically manipulated into place in the sleepier mid-90s as part of an overarching strategy to weaken land use laws. In my humble view, the ONLY way to head this off at the pass is to initiate a campaign that includes other partners throughout Oregon.

In the meantime, if Portland had the will, guidelines could likely be more-expeditiously crafted that would push on such projects to retain historic fabric. Portland's guidelines are mandatory approval criteria. One well-crafted guideline added to the Central City Fundamentals could provide the Design Commission a clearer basis to reject a proposal that has not met whatever test it establishes.

Many cities that established pioneering and aggressive landmark protections have done so in the wake of a profoundly unfortunate demolition. I only hope this is Portland's and Oregon's "Penn Station", so that this avoidable failure can be put to good use.


I'm pretty sure I came across this blog because of posts about another demolition, the Rosefriend Apts. That was ten years or so back. I'm sure this won't stop unless profound, unimaginable changes take place. Those who lament the destruction but don't fight for such change -- myself included -- don't really have much to say about it in the end.

Fred Leeson

Beautifully expressed, Brian. This demolition certainly affects our "sense of place." What interests me: How many new buildings contribute to our sense of place, to what makes Portland special and memorable? I have trouble thinking of ANY, with the exception of the Portland Building (like it or not). I've sat through any number of design commission hearings where architects talk of "activating the street." Often as not, it means a Subway sandwich shop or something. I find it discouraging and depressing.

Brian Libby

Thanks everyone for the comments. Germo, I hear what you're saying but I respectfully disagree. Lamenting the destruction may not be as effective as fighting for change in other ways, but public opinion and speaking out still matters. Even if commenting on a blog or writing a blog post doesn't do much, one can always contact members of City Council, or the developers at Onder Development and Arthur Mutal, or the architects and contractors, to let them know of the disapproval. We need to collectively all urge ourselves to do better. Changed preservation laws and changed behavior is what we're after, but talk is the beginning of that process, I'd like to think.


This is terrible And pains me

Cold Water

In its replacement, the block is condemned to another uninspired century. That hulking pastiche was living proof that historic and beautiful do not always walk hand-in-hand.

Brian Libby

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Cold Water. You're entitled to your opinion. But many of us found the Workmen Temple beautiful. We're even willing to use our real identities to come out and say so! ;)

David Dysert

What's even more regrettable is the fact this building was demolished for the parking of cars. Onder could have developed a taller quarter block building and saved the temple building but you can't get enough cars parked in a quarter block footprint. Portland likes to think its progressive and green. Think again.


I hate to point this out but it's your elected bureaucracy that's created this outcome. Permits that take 9+ months, out of control wages (not minimum wage), code requirements that are out of control, SDC fees, fees for housing, a long protracted useless public comment process, a misguided design review process, a property tax system that benefits parking lots vs buildings, no real historic preservation program in Oregon.. the list goes on.


The latest Portland development wave is largely crap and goes against much of what Portland became noted for. Skybridges in South Waterfront, demolition of this very historic block of Victorian brick buildings, doomsday themed highrises, blank walls at the street for new buildings, buildings raised from the street for parking (hello CLSB) and Hardie on all new podium projects that 10 years ago would have been brick or even wood clad, I could go on. But hey, they all have carefully planned faux randomized windows!!!

Carla lejade

Thank you Brian for your article and care. I was in Portland this week and witnessed firsthand this gorgeous old building being demolished . I was horrified and found your article. What were they thinking? What about the city heritage- this can never be replaced and a bit of creative thinking could make it "pencil out". I'm tired of developers using this excuse. And your article tried to give a balanced look at both sides but there really is no excuse. I am from Bath,Maine a tiny historic town the developers tried to raze in the name of "urban renewal " in 1970. The residents fought it and thank goodness- now it's a thriving historic town which won one of the cutest towns in the NE.
Portland get your act together! Look at creative uses like Haus Haus in Palo Alto- an elegant old theater now a techy workplace and gathering spot - architecture preserved thank you! I am sitting in their court laughing now enjoying the archtute and hoping somebody takes up the reins in Portland before more of this kind of travesty happens.
Carla - RedShoeLiving

Carla lejade

Opps typo : I meant "sitting in their courtyard enjoying the architecture "
I got so worked up thinking about this travesty - it's very upsetting as a visitor to your potentially lovely city !
Portland take note- get an active architectural review committee and be tough.

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