Portland Building
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Architect Michael Graves
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Location Portland, Oregon   map
Date 1980   timeline
Building Type government offices
Climate mild temperate
Context urban
Style Post-Modern
Notes Block mass with decorated facades, criticized for unpleasant interior. Icon of Post-Modernism
Images

 


Photo, exterior

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Drawings

 


Elevation Drawing

Elevation Drawing

Drawing

Drawing

Drawing

Section Drawing

Site Plan Drawing

Drawing

Perspective Drawing
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Discussion Portland Building Commentary

"When first completed, this postmodern landmark was wildly innovative and controversial. On the varied facades of this chunky 15-story municipal office building, speckled with smallish square windows, masses of deep colors—browns, blues, and a rusty red—make emphatic statements against a sandy background. A stylized garland of blue ribbons (rendered in concrete) decorates one side while a huge statue of a woman, Portlandia, added in 1985, dominates the main entrance."

— from Sylvia Hart Wright. Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture: From Postwar to Postmodern. p39.

The Creator's Words

"The Portland Building was a design-build competition sponsored by the city of Portland, Oregon. Located on a 200-foot square downtown block, the building will house the city's minicipal offices. This particular site offers a rich and special setting characterized by the adjacent City Hall and County Courthouse buildings on two sides, and the public transit mall and the park on the other two sides.

"The design of the building addresses the public nature of both the urban context and the internal program. In order to reinforce the building's associative or mimetic qualities, the facades are organized in a classical three-part division of base, middle or body, and attic or head."

— Michael Graves. from Michael Graves. Michael Graves: Buildings and Projects 1966-1981. p195.

"While any architectural language, to be built, will always exist within the technical realm, it is important to keep the technical expression parallel to an equal and complementary expression of ritual and symbol. It could be argued that the Modern Movement did this, that as well as its internal language, it expressed the symbol of the machine, and therefore practiced cultural symbolism. But in this case, the machine is retroactive, for the machine itself is a utility. So this symbol is not an external allusion, but rather a second, internalized reading. A significant architecture must incorporate both internal and external expressions. The external language, which engages inventions of culture at large, is rooted in a figurative, associational and anthropomorphic attitude."

— Michael Graves. from Michael Graves. Michael Graves: Buildings and Projects 1966-1981. p.11.

Resources
Sources on Portland Building

"Reevaluating Postmodernism ", by Brian Libby, ArchitectureWeek No. 101, 2002.0605, pC1.1.

Peter Arnell, Karen Vogel Wheeler and Ted Bickford. Michael Graves: Buildings and Projects 1966-1981. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1982. ISBN 0-8478-0405-4. LC 81-51400. NA737.G72A4. lobby cafe interior perspective drawing, p204. perspective drawing of view from Fifith Avenue, p200. section drawing, p204. main street elevation drawing, p197. fifth avenue elevation drawing, p196. typical floor plan drawing, p201. ground floor plan drawing, p201. site plan drawing, p196.

Donald Corner and Jenny Young. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD.2260.1012.1841.086

Michael Graves. Michael Graves: Buildings and Projects 1966-1981. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1982. NA737.G72A4 1982. ISBN 0-8478-0405-4. p11, 195.

Karen Wheeler. Michael Graves: Buildings and Projects 1966-1981. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1982. NA 737.672 A4 1982. ISBN 0-8478-0431-3. Overview photo, p203.

Sylvia Hart Wright. Sourcebook of Contemporary North American Architecture: From Postwar to Postmodern. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989. ISBN 0-422-29190-6. LC 89-5320. NA703.W75 1989. discussion, p39.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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