Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The evolving billboard.

First, someone demurely suggested that we ask the mayor about his unfortunate Leonard-esque stance on the Columbia River Crossing. By the next day, the billboard itself had been enhanced.

I'm glad I stopped and snapped the second shot when I did (even though I was late for a meeting), because 24 hours later Clear Channel had, predictably, come to the rescue of Law and Order and returned the site to its role as a ho hum backdrop again.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I want to strongly encourage my local readers to attend the City Council meeting tomorrow morning and let our elected officials know that Memorial Coliseum will not be demolished without a fight. Brian over at Portland Architecture has been acting as a sort of clearinghouse for the growing chorus of voices protesting this outlandish plan, so I won't spend much time re-hashing the many powerful reasons why this building deserves preservation in some form. Please visit his site.

All of these photos were taken this afternoon. Afterwards I was left feeling even more incredulous that this mid-century modern, SOM-designed, architecturally significant building might be torn down. And with our new mayor --white knight of the design community, booster-in-chief for making Portland one of the global epicenters of "sustainability"-- leading the charge.

Personally, I think the site and building (even the entire Rose Quarter; for an example, see what Stockholm has undertaken) seem like ideal candidates for an international design competition. Or an excuse to get Brad Cloepfil busy in his own city. Sure, there isn't a lot of money floating around these days, but, um, doesn't it seem like when something is deemed really important, the will to overcome any and all obstacles leads to a variety of creative financial arrangements? Much as I support the idea of an MLS team, and am currently suffering from Blazers fever, it is time to slow down.

It seems like there is a lot going wrong in Portland right now, and it doesn't all have to do with the economy. Is it historical amnesia regarding major missteps by previous generations that is leading today's powers-that-be to push, with great hubris, disruptive and regressive plans that future generations will likely regret?

We rue the era in which much of our cast iron architecture was demolished for parking lots, South Portland was removed wholesale by the PDC, the heart of the city's black community was ripped out by Legacy Emanuel Hospital, and old Albina was decimated by the Rose Quarter and freeway construction.

Similarly, future Portlanders will, I strongly suspect, wonder what in the hell was going on in the sustainability-obsessed early 21st century when sensible people had to protest a 12-lane mega-bridge and hastily-put-together plans for the long-dysfunctional Rose Quarter that involved sending the one handsomely-designed modern building in the area to the landfill.

Hopefully the voices of reason will win this time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Does it really have to be one or the other?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Here a few shots from the Sunday rally protesting the form of, and process behind, the Columbia River Crossing mega-bridge that is currently in the planning process. It was encouraging, to be sure, but I was disappointed that I couldn't get a single one of my friends to join me. This is one of those issues, I worry, that people will sleepwalk through until it is too late. Right now, the distant prospect of moving the I-5 bottleneck south from the bridge into N and NE Portland, potentially sending overflow traffic onto arterial streets and worsening air pollution, doesn't seem to be enough to motivate many of the folks that I know. And I didn't even mention the potential for worsening sprawl on the Washington side of the river. Or the mammoth cost. Or the probable uninspiring design.

I eagerly await the first lawsuit.

My favorite sign of the day was the Randy Leonard one, which only those who have been following this story (another link here) will understand. Pretty funny.

I am thankful for elected leaders like Metro Councilor Liberty (pictured below) and City Councilor Fritz (I hereby rescind the skepticism I expressed about her during the election last Fall) who are willing to stick their necks out politically to make the right call rather than capitulate to backroom "compromises" and union/freight/DOT pressure, as Adams and Leonard have.

The last picture is from that hand-painted sign just east of the Hawthorne bridge that has gotten some media attention recently. It seemed apropos on my ride to work that afternoon.