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The Great Debate of 2014: What’s next for the Portland Building?

by Audrey Alverson

When I heard Michael Graves would be in Portland to discuss the Portland Building, there was no question that I would be there. I was excited to gain perspective on this oft maligned and (most recently) hotly debated City building directly from its designer, and I knew this would be a quality production, with Randy Gragg (not one for shying away from the tough questions) as the facilitator.

After introductions, Graves started with a presentation of his body of work – immense as it is. Randy stated clearly he wanted to give some context to the audience’s perception of Graves and what he has done beyond the Portland Building. I appreciated this because knowing Randy, I assumed it was a little bit of a dig at the Portland public’s derision of Graves. Maybe we didn’t all have enough information to criticize so harshly?

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The Portland Building Debate Circuit Continues

by Becca Cavell

It’s time to follow up on my earlier piece about the Portland Building. Peter Meijer and I publically debated the fate of the building for the first time over a year ago, at the Docomomo Symposium in Florida. Since then we’ve reprised our face-off three times in front of live audiences – in Portland and Hood River – and we had the pleasure of sparring gently on the radio courtesy of KBOO’s ArtFocus show as part of a longer program that addressed a couple of other local landmarks too (listen here). We’ve made a point to engage the audience in the discussion whenever we can, and along this journey I’ve learned a lot of things about the building and people’s attitudes towards it.

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Tear that Landmark down!! …or maybe…don’t?

by Becca Cavell

Peter Meijer and I recently reprised a debate on the future of Portland’s iconic Portland Building (designed by Michael Graves in 1982) as part of the Portland Design Festival. Peter and I are on the board of DoCoMoMo-Oregon and were invited to present the same topic at DoCoMoMo-US’s National Symposium in Sarasota earlier this year. The Modernism conservation group is beginning to grapple with the issue of Postmodernism and we tried to highlight some of the major issues while maintaining a fairly lighthearted approach. In Florida we only had 20 minutes to present our cases, and this time we had over an hour, and we had a lively and engaged audience who brought their own perspectives to the discussion.

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