Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

About Michael Graves´ Portland Building

The Portland Municipal Services Building. From

I have been reading an article at the DJC Oregon, about the importance of Michael Graves´ Portland Building, and its pros and cons. I´ve never seen it with critic eyes, because for me, Michael Graves´ works have been great symbols of post modernism, so, historically speaking, nice or not, they are really important, at least for me. Here, an excerpt from this article:

 Thirty years after it was completed, the Portland Building continues to elicit strong opinions. The controversial structure, designed by world-renowned architect and product designer Michael Graves, has been declared both an architectural atrocity and a brilliant piece of innovation. Some people criticize its small windows and low ceilings, while others laud it as the spark that started the postmodernism architecture movement. One thing everyone can agree on, however, is that the building has had an impact – whether positive or negative – on the city and its architectural community. “The Portland Building did get people talking, which was useful in a city where the 1970s had brought largely corporate box architecture,” said Carl Abbott, who teaches urban studies and planning at Portland State University and is writing a book on the development of city planning in Portland. “For a couple years, it put Portland on the national architecture map.” The 15-story, 362,422-square-foot building was the result of a design competition sponsored by the city in 1979. Two other architects created designs of glass and concrete, but Graves chose to use terra-cotta tile and vibrant colors inspired by architecture he had seen on a recent trip to Italy. According to Graves, city officials were confused by his approach. “The submissions went to City Council, and the color on it was not to their liking – they were all modernists,” Graves said. “With the rain, everything in Portland is gray. Why would I make a gray building? I did it to spice things up.” The council named Graves the winner – in part, he admits, because one of the other competitors exceeded budget restrictions. “As the building emerged and was occupied, displaying its many deficiencies as a functional space, opinion shifted as reality set in,” Abbott said. “Ironically, the attention to the building may have turned opinion leaders away from innovation. (They said,) ‘We tried to be cutting edge; we didn’t like what we got, so let’s be more cautious.’ ” Despite being only three decades old, the building last year was added to the National Register of Historic Places, adding fuel to the debate. Most structures on the register are at least 50 years old, though exceptions have been made, including in Portland.

The Portland Building. DJC Oregon files
Interior of the Portland Building. From


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