Wanted: An Architectural Icon to Capture the Essence of Portland
"In public consciousness, most seem to associate [Portland] with our most publicized clichés: food trucks, biking culture and hipsters. But even if we can rightfully blame 'Portlandia' for perpetuating these clichés, it's hard to deny that there's nothing memorable about our skyline," according to an op-ed by Jason Shadel.
Shadel cites the economic impacts of icons like the CN Tower in Tornoto and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to make the case for the potential of a unique architectural feature to define the skyline of cities and attract millions of tourists every year.
But, Shadel warns, Portland should endeavor to design an icon that fits the city's unique qualities:
I don't believe Portland needs a Space Needle. That would be counterproductive. The idea of erecting an iconic architectural structure — one that's not an office building and one featuring a publicly accessible viewing deck — is to further differentiate Portland from other regional cities like Vancouver and Seattle. This should be a challenge to architects to design something that's uniquely Portland, something that reflects the spirit of a city whose pioneering urban planning has emphasized density over sprawl.