Michael Graves’ Portland Building Could Be In Jeopardy

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Portland Building (Flickr/Camknows)

Portland Building (Flickr/Camknows)

If several Portland city commissioners have their way Michael Graves‘ alternately loved and hated Portland Building (1982), now facing a $95 million renovation, will be torn down. One of the most famous examples of postmodern architecture in the United States, the 15-story, 31-year-old structure is known for its small square windows, exaggerated historical motifs, playful, varied materials, gaudy colors, and, of course, its cameo on the opening to the show Portlandia (also the name of the larger-than-life statue over the building’s front door).

While a few elements have been renovated in recent years, most of the building is in bad shape, and  residents aren’t exactly lining up to save it. Several city officials, writes the Atlantic Cities, have come out against making any more investments in it.

And so the question is raised: Can a building be considered too important to tear down even if most people don’t like it?

Paul Goldberger, in his New York Times review of the building in 1982, called it “The most compelling architectural event of the year…It reminds us that the movement that has come to be known as Postmodernism has become vastly more than a curiosity. Now, at the end of 1982, it is unquestionably something that is having a genuine effect on the cityscape.”

The final decision will take months, but stay tuned to the fate of a building that everybody has an opinion about.

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