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Monday 11.19.07

« a band on every thing: Gary Hill Lectures at Reed | Main | More parlor games and MoMA »

Building... with balls?

The print media in Portland is finally starting to catch up with PORT on the very exciting 511 building project for PNCA. Here's our initial take, and a tiny bit from the O this past Saturday (they've lost a lot by not having full-time architecture columnist like Randy Gragg). To reiterate, the 511 project effectively creates a high profile arts boulevard on Portland's North Park blocks (consolidating gains with the Desoto Building and the Everett Station Lofts) and if the Post Office moves out by the airport as expected the additional 13 acres could be developed into an urban cultural boulevard... a little bit like the Benjamin Franklin Parkway but with the park blocks instead of the old imperial style. Also, Brad Cloepfil did the campus' master plan and would almost certainly be the top choice as architect for this building. Net result, a world-class art institution effort in the Pearl District. I was at the PDC meeting (there was really no contest between the market and PNCA, the Federal Government controls the building not PDC and thus only PNCA qualifies to apply). Hopefully, the GSA will see the wisdom in giving PNCA the building and Portland a boost... let's just say PNCA is pulling out all the stops, they really want this and it's the biggest news for Portland's cultural community since I've lived here (8.5 years).

UPDATE* DK Row has chimed in as well now with a pleasantly matter of fact piece... the recent vacation must have quelled his typical need for snark, or maybe it's because this is such an important issue. Still this article doesnt really convey how this is a potentially paradigm changing opportunity.

Nouvel's proposed tower next to MoMA

Jean Nouvel is designing a new tower next to MoMA. Actually, it will give a much needed expansion to MoMA's exhibition space by devoting 3 floors to the museum. This question from the Times' Ouroussoff is key, "Yet the building raises a question: How did a profit-driven developer become more adventurous architecturally than MoMA, which has tended to make cautious choices in recent years?" I consider it an opportunity for MoMA to "grow a pair", so to speak so please don't let Taniguchi design the galleries?$@! We live in a pluralistic age and MoMA needs an architecturally pluralistic campus. Don't even get me started abouthow lame this other new york project is.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has acquired 6 of the works it did not already own from their superb Robert Irwin retrospective (aka the best show of 2007)... this show has balls and their aquisitions do too.

Last but not least Jerry Saltz is asking important questions about MoMA's lack of female artists. The Portland Art Museum actually does a good job of this currently highlighting Lee Krasner, Judy Chicago, Agnes Martin, Helen Frankenthaler, Lynda Benglis, Hilla Von Rebay, Dorothea Rockburn, Anne Truitt, Kiki Smith and Suen Wong, etc. For once PAM can claim bragging rights over MoMA (and it's something MoMA can easilly correct). Also, when will MoMA do a long overdue Benglis retro? Needless to say balls aren't everything...

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 19, 2007 at 10:37 | Comments (4)


This is a big time for PNCA, and they are leaving the gate with a lot of momentum after getting the money to start FIVE. They still have some public relations issues trying to explain what that $15 million is for, and exactly how it will shape PNCA as an institution. I just certainly hope PNCA can get all the necessary financial backing for the 511 building, because that is going to be a monster of a task. Hopefully the GSA will give them a big sweaty handful of cash.

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 19, 2007 07:57 PM

Well first of all the GSA doesn't give cash... they build buildings and when unused decomission them. But from a certain point of view PNCA can get more facility (and a historic facility that befits their age) or the money they spend on ugrades if they get the 511 building gifted for free.

Basically the potential gift allows the money to be spend on a better quality facility.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 19, 2007 11:17 PM

I had a top to bottom tour of the Federal Building in 2002 helping another agency seeking real estate. The building is in good shape, and is very large and cluttered with internal walls and at least three overlay remodels (plumbing, electric, security). The long term capital needs are going to be high. Seismic refit is probably necessary for future use. I learned the building had been "shopped" since 1994 to a wide variety of interests, but the cost of occupancy discouraged all to date.

The Customs House is also available - some of the same virtues, handsome exterior, no adjacent parking.

Posted by: cicolini [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2007 05:33 AM

thanks mr. c

PNCA has the deep pocket support it will take to upgade the seismics and bring the building into the 21s century in terms of mechanicals etc.

the adjacent parking lot will be turned into an extension of the North Park Blocks... there are some exciting possibilities with that added greenspace and PNCA is willing to help improve that new public park space if they are given the adjacent building.

This is a great opportunity for Portland, not just PNCA. PNCA has the history, donor base and track record to do this and hopefully the DOE see's it that way.

BTW, the GSA will probably do whatever the DOE recommends.

Personally, I think it is crucial that art students remain a huge presence in the Pearl district and being gifted the 511 building will cement that goal as a reality.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2007 01:21 PM

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