News

Postmodernist Architecture Becomes History

Oh, postmodernism. You are history now. This fall, architect Michael Graves classic (wait, can you say that about postmodernism?) 1982 Portland building was added to the US National Register of Historic Places.

According to the Portland Tribune:

The 15-story, 362,422-square-foot building was constructed for $28.9 million using bright green tile and off-white stucco exterior with mirrored glass, an earth-toned terracotta tile and a sky-blue penthouse. Graves also designed the building’s interior lobby and second-floor public spaces.

A textbook example of postmodern architecture, the Graves building helped to define an emerging architectural aesthetic that looked friendlier, more approachable and definitely more colorful than the modernist boxes that had by the 1980s become far too conventional, monotonous and generic.

Looking at a photo of the building in context, you can see how the structure stands out from its less vivid neighbors.

According to Dezeen, Graves was pleased with the decision and sang its praises:

“The building occupies such a pivotal place in the architecture of the last quarter of the 20th century and its appropriateness for historic status has now been confirmed. The building represents the first of many which have helped redefine the traditional urban fabric of our cities.”

Wikipedia has a great collection of quotes about the structure:

  • 1990, The Oregonian stated “it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like Pioneer Courthouse Square…. it’s even harder to find anyone who admits to liking the Portland Building.”
  • Paul Goldberger said:
    • For better or for worse, the Portland Building overshadows other things. It is more significant for what it did than how well it does it. It had a profound effect on American architecture and brought a return to classicism that brought us better buildings.
  • Pietro Belluschi said:
    • I think it’s totally wrong. It’s not architecture, it’s packaging. I said at the time that there were only two good things about it: ‘It will put Portland on the map, architecturally, and it will never be repeated.’
  • In October 2009, Travel + Leisure magazine called the Portland Building “one of the most hated buildings in America.”

 

comments (0)