Friday, September 4, 2009

Design Friday: The Portland Building

Today, I am highlighting the Portland Building. This building is a municipal building in Portland, Oregon that was built by Michael Graves in 1980.


It is deemed the first major postmodern building, meaning it rejects modernism (which is a rejection of the past and deals wholly in abstraction). Because of its unconventional style and color, you can imagine it was met with criticism from the community. As time has progressed, it has been criticized as being an inefficient building to work in. It is guarded by "Portlandia", a sculpture based on the city's seal.


Whenever I meet someone who has been to Portland or lived there, I always ask them if they have seen this building. No one that I know has seen it or knows what I'm talking about from my description. It's a pretty unique building, so I don't know if it's in an obscure location or what, but if you find yourself in Portland, take the time to look for and appreciate this building.


References: (I've actually forgotten how to do this, but here's my best attempt!)
* Tansey, Richard G., Kleiner, Fred S., "Gardner's Art Through the Ages", Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1996
* www.greatbuildings.com
* www.architectureweek.com

8 comments:

  1. I admit to be uneducated in the world of design, but you just haven't sold me on why this building is great - or are you just pointing it out because it is different? Better question, what do you like about the building and how does it inspire you?

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  2. Big Doug-
    This is the kind of passion and intensity I love to see from my readers! Since you asked, I like the building for its originality. I am inspired by designers who are not afraid to let their unique taste shine through. Plus, as I mentioned, it was significant at the time it was built by rejecting the current modernist philosophy. But, a large part of design is functionality. So if this building is inefficient, I think for a large part it has failed.

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  3. Thanks for the insight. I'm a firm believer that form should follow function (someone I know taught me that and it seemed to make sense). If only Mr. Graves would have felt so passionately about that principle then he really could have stuck it to the modernists, by not only rejecting them and being original but creating an efficient/functional building. Despite his shortsightedness, I still would like to see the building in person as it does look pretty cool.

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  4. I love Michael Graves and thought he was perfect. So many of his projects address function so well. I am surprised he let us down with this one. No one is perfect though. Thanks tons for this insight. Really great blog. I am glad you are doing it.

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  5. When I designed a building that rejected the modernist philosophies of fire exits, elevators, functioning restrooms, and earthquake resistant foundations I was ridiculed to no end. Maybe posthumous fame awaits.

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  6. Dana-
    Michael Graves IS great. I was surprised by my research too.

    Mike-
    They would not listen, they're not listening still. Perhaps they never will...

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  7. Oops, it was just voted "The World's Ugliest Building" by people that like to vote on things, apparently. Here's the interlinkey-thing:
    http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_101209_portland_building_ugliest.20dabd9e7.html

    Cheers :)

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  8. T-Rex,
    There's another reason for us to visit it while in Portland.

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