Will City Demolish Graves' Pioneering Postmodern Portland Building?

Faced with $95 million in necessary repairs just 32 years after its Michael Graves-designed administrative headquarters was opened, Portland officials are considering razing the nation's first major work of postmodern architecture.

1 minute read

January 8, 2014, 10:00 AM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


The Portland Building, designed by Michael Graves

philosophygeek / Flickr

After it was revealed last week that fixing the Portland Building's severe structural deficiencies and other problems would cost $95 million, a number of city commissioners have suggested that the best option would be to demolish the National Register-listed building and start from scratch.   

"Any other city administrative building that, at just 32 years of age, needed $95 million in repairs but even then would be a cheaply constructed place with dreary lightless interiors and a terrible street presence would likely be demolished," writes Brian Libby of the blog Portland Architecture. 

"But the Portland building is also very historically significant, not just in a local or national but even in an international context. It's the first major work of postmodern architecture in the United States. Any time a city tears down such historically significant architecture, it's a draconian act."

At The Oregonian, Brad Schmidt reports that Portland’s Bureau of Internal Business Services, which manages city facilities, "has in fact recommended overhauling The Portland Building instead of tearing it down and building anew."

Let the debate begin.

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