The City of Portland’s Office of Management and Finance has sent out video “fly-bys” of the proposed renovations to the Portland Building. Gone is the most horrible mistake of the original plan, the garage entry that consumes the park side of the building (likened to an “anus” pointing toward one of the most important public spaces of the city).
On the other hand, it cannot be said that the proposed new design is sympathetic to Michael Graves’ original post-modernist project. (Which, like many others of its generation, sought imperfectly to provide an alternative to the widely-perceived failures of modernism.) In what seems to be a clumsy Mies-take, dull curtain walls with black mullions replace the ground floor exterior walls. Yes, the building needed more light — but with such an ill-fitting, fashionably thoughtless design?
The website tries to explain it, showing in the process how laughably anachronistic retro-modernist the architecture profession has gotten. “Notice how historical elements coexist with the modern,” it gushes. Historical, as in 1982, and modern as in, what, 1960?
Someone has been watching way too much Mad Men…