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MoMA swamped?
Architecture in Portland: Best and Worst Developments of 2013
Brad Cloepfil/AWA's Sokol Blosser Tasting Room
Ding Dong the Bridge is Dead
PICA's new headquarters
Aerial Tram at 5 a Renaissance Revisited
PAM reinvents itself with Ziba
Bud Clark Commons: design to save lives
CRC design decision, do or die? it looks like die
Columbia River Crossing: Still Planning Blind
YU contemporary art center goes public
OCAC reinvents itself with two new buildings

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Wednesday 02.05.14

MoMA swamped?

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Katherina Fritsch at MoMA's sculpture court

The New York Times had another article on the rightly and much maligned MoMA expansion today. It is a complicated issue, how to make the museum more a citizen of the street it lives on while protecting the art experience? This issue is crucial because MoMA sets the tone for all other museums and the overcrowding of the sculpture garden would end the last great refuge for contemplation in an already overcrowded museum experience. Thus, MoMA's preoccupation with traffic flow sacrifices the art experience in all corners of the museum already, instead of creating eddies and pools of contemplation. Basically, if MoMA were a wetlands this ever more quickening stream would sacrifice the beaches and nesting grounds we more devoted art goers are most interested in! Sometimes good fences make good neighbors... and having very intentional and varied boundaries can succeed where monogenic strategies cannot.

Let's look at perhaps the most successful modern and contemporary museum in the country, the Menil.

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Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk at the Menil

The Menil was designed to create similar vistas and private nooks of contemplation one found at... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 05, 2014 at 12:06 | Comments (0)

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Monday 12.30.13

Architecture in Portland: Best and Worst Developments of 2013

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Art House's gleaming metal and glass on the North Park Blocks (all photos Jeff Jahn)

There has been a subtle but important shift in Portland's architecture scene this year that hearkens to a shift in Portland's overall seriousness. I call it the year the faux brick died. To these eyes faux brick was the "humble brag" of Portland's design lexicon... simultaneously disingenuous and passive aggressive because metal and wood were too lux or direct. I'm glad that architecture in Portland is moving beyond trying to make new 10-12 story metal frame buildings look like brick. Nobody is going to do a 12 story wood clad building either.

Still, three of the most interesting projects; Kengo Kuma's Japanese Garden (check out our interview), PNCA's Cloepfil designed 511 building and the new Willamette transit bridge (which we should name after Mark Rothko because he grew up on its west banks, while experiencing all racism Jewish immigrants endured) wont be completed for some time so we have a lot to look forward to in years to come... especially if the Portland Art Museum can solidify key elements for their next expansion ideas.

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Terrace area of the Sokol Blosser's new Tasting Room facilities designed by Allied Works

The clear winner of 2013 was Sokol Blosser's new tasting room by Brad Cloepfil and his team at Allied Works. Start to finish this project is probably one of the best things from Brad since his W+K headquarters... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 30, 2013 at 17:36 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 07.23.13

Brad Cloepfil/AWA's Sokol Blosser Tasting Room

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The view from Sokol Blosser's new Cloepfil/AWA designed tasting room (all photos Jeff Jahn)

There are a handful of contemporary wineries that have made a major impression upon the architecture world. There is HDM's understated but large earthy pile in Napa, and Calatrava's far more balletic project in Spain, as well as Mario Botta's project in Tuscany.

Last week, at an event inaugurating Sokol Blosser's new tasting room building designed by Brad Cloepfil/AWA I was struck by the fact that Oregon and not just Portland was finally growing up in terms of design. Basically, Cloepfil has taken to punctuating the thesis statement sentences of Oregon's development whenever a new chapter begins to be written (the Pearl District and now wine country). That is a hell of a thing for a single building to accomplish, much less a winery.

Typically, wineries fetish a kind of anachro-tecture by trying to emulate European Gothic or Spanish Mission designs. Since all are derived from agrarian fortresses they seem better suited to shoot arrows or bullets from than drink wine. I suppose it just depends what you are into but the people who frquent here are called wine lovers not wine warriors for a reason... visigoths make horrible guests!

Sokol Blosser's situation is far more refined than that scenario and with their new tasting room it is clear that Cloepfil, who is now perhaps beginning to mature into a potentially great architect knew what was great about wineries... wine, companionship and the bucolic sublime.

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Sokol Blosser's new tasting room by Allied Works


....(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 23, 2013 at 15:37 | Comments (0)

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Monday 07.01.13

Ding Dong the Bridge is Dead

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Cable stay CRC design, which not chosen

The big news this weekend (broken by the Tribune) was that the much hated Columbia River Crossing is dead. PORT has been on top of this from a design perspective and when they chose the cheapest and tunnel of ugly version instead of the more seismically safe and more elegant cable stay design I predicted the project would be killed.

If a project can't even get those like me who see a need for a well designed and seismically pro-active bridge on board they will have to wait for the Big One or say a 7.6 to damage the existing bridges enough to make a replacement happen. That's sad because people will likely die.

Here are some take-aways:

1)Next time get a major archictect and engineering firm on board, the project is just too complicated for a meat and potatoes design that nobody can buy into. The architect can juggle the massive tangle of interests and find a way to bring that feedback into the design. That would create buy-in. Design isn't about being "fancy", it is about finding elegant solutions to difficult problems and the CRC idea requires top level problem solving... not run of the mill overpass style solutions.

2)This requires a bigger carrot. IE the Federal Government will have to fund at least half to 65% of the project... to bring both states back to the table. 25% simply did not cut it and this is I-5 afterall, the most Important road on the West Coast.

3)The project should show off the incredible stetting and instill pride. It should also be the most seismically robust and environmentally sound solution available today. Right now that is a cable stay design with its greater sway and fewer piers. The clearances should also be high enough so as not to impact upsteam businesses to nearly a billion dollars in mitigation payouts. This should be a job builder not payola.

4)Some of the 170 million that has already been spent is not wasted but the next time the process is undertaken it will require a front door not the back room political dealing approach attempted this failed time.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 01, 2013 at 9:41 | Comments (2)

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Friday 04.13.12

PICA's new headquarters

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PICA's new headquarters

I'm burying the hatchet because this space gives me reason to believe in PICA again but first a little history. In 2004 PICA shuttered its once excellent visual art program, which under curator Stuart Horodner presented the likes of Janine Antoni, William Pope L. Dana Shutz, Melanie Manchot, Jim Hodges, Tony Tasset and Rudolf Stingel... and if that sounds like the most interesting nonprofit exhibition space north of San Francisco it is because it was. What's more the space was large but not unwieldy space designed by Brad Cloepfil, long before... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 13, 2012 at 13:54 | Comments (2)

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Tuesday 01.31.12

Aerial Tram at 5 a Renaissance Revisited

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Aerial Tram on its first day of public operation (photo Jeff Jahn)

Brian Libby has an important look back at the Aerial Tram which is now 5 years old. Here is my original review of this watershed architectural moment for Portland.

How does it hold up today? It still feels contemporary and very very European (OMA, MVRDV-esque). Still, it remains a controversial benchmark... some architects call it a glorified parking garage. So what? Of course it is! (BTW, interesting parking garages are the rage now) The point is it remains an elegant solution to OHSU's campus expansion problems on Lair Hill keeping Portland's largest employer in the city core. It is also an extroverted piece of architecture... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 31, 2012 at 13:44 | Comments (0)

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Friday 09.16.11

PAM reinvents itself with Ziba

Here is a taste of the new identity:

PAM_Logo_NEW_Ziba.jpg


The new identity keeps the authoritative red but it is a softened shade, the more traditional text below covers all the bases


Analysis:

The Portland Art Museum's new identity and branding was conceived in close collaboration with Ziba design. In short, it is a bold clean appropriation of the P of Portland and definitively states that indeed this is an Art city. No, it isn't as bold as something like the Tate's chimerical identity but by being similarly polymorphous mark (it can act as a window on images or art) it is a gutsier than the Art Institute of Chicago's rather staid new logo.... (much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 16, 2011 at 14:30 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 06.02.11

Bud Clark Commons: design to save lives

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Resource Access Center (Bud Clark Commons)

If you've recently spent any time at all in Portland's tony Pearl District you've no doubt seen the dramatic rise the new Resource Access Center or Bud Clark Commons just across from the Post Office and PNCA's soon to be 511 building. Much has been written about its sociological underpinnings (like Housing First, which has been proven to lessen the burden on social services) so I'll focus mostly on design here.

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The Commons with lockers right around the corner from showers etc. in the Day Use area.

The RAC designed by Holst Architects is perhaps the boldest exterior architectural statement for a building in the city core since Graves' disastrous Portland Building put the city's downtown into a passive aggressive design coma for over nearly two decades...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 02, 2011 at 16:35 | Comments (1)

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Monday 04.25.11

CRC design decision, do or die? it looks like die

Governors Gregiore and Kitzhaber are about to announce the type of bridge they hope to build for the Columbia River Crossing. If it isn't a cable stay design, I predict it will be stopped. If it is a cable stay it will still face intense pressure.

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Cable Stay Design, which was not chosen.

Update: And in a dark day for Oregon and Washington they have chosen the composite deck truss design, for cheapness and alleged expediency sake (never a good idea on a 3+ billion dollar project). Expect Oregonians to rally against this (the cable stay design was superior in terms of seismic survivability and with less piers had a smaller environmental profile in the water). Also, the cable stay didn't look gawd awful with zero appeal for pedestrians and bicyclists. Instead,... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 25, 2011 at 10:10 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 02.09.11

Columbia River Crossing: Still Planning Blind

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Cable Stay CRC design (not in favor because of Pearson airfield interference)

Since we have tracked the unspeakably difficult to track Columbia River Crossing bridge replacement project since the beginning we are due for an update. Last week Governors Christine Gregoire and John Kitzhaber (the two people with the most say in this project) rejected the ridiculously bad open box girder design and are considering three other alternatives. As of yet there is no serious designer attached to the project, simply a set of engineering options. This has been the greatest weakness of the project (which I've detailed in depth many times before). Simply put the project is extremely complicated and the CRC leadership is still looking at this as a series of standard solutions to a nonstandard project... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 09, 2011 at 16:10 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 11.02.10

YU contemporary art center goes public

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The Old Yale Union (YU) Laundry building in a bid to be the serious contemporary art center Portland has been wanting.

The unveiling of the YU contemporary art center on November 2 in Portland felt both energizing and overly familiar. On the positive side an LLC holding company (under control of founders Curtis Knapp and Aaron Flint Jamison) already owns the building and seeks to transfer ownership of the former Yale Union Laundry building to YU (acronym for Yale Union) a 501(c)3 non profit arts institution. Located in the inner SE industrial district YU is in an ideal location. The team has already donated and carried out a feasibility study by BOORA, which requires 5-7,000,000 for build out and seismic upgrades (though 10-$20,000,000 seems much more prudent for endowing the programs). Yu already has some finished renovations like the impressive kitchen for major events.



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a mere 1/3rd of the main gallery space.

The plan is multidisciplinary, with 14,000 sq feet of contemporary exhibition space, 4 artist residency spaces, a 100 seat auditorium/flex space... (much more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 02, 2010 at 21:19 | Comments (1)

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Friday 10.01.10

OCAC reinvents itself with two new buildings

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OCAC student using the Jean Vollum Drawing, Painting and Photography Building's custom locker/counter top built-ins (all photos Jeff Jahn)


For starters, the 100+ year old Oregon College of Art and Craft has done something startling for such a small quiet school. Along with soaring enrollment that all art schools in Portland have experienced lately, they have raised 14.6 million dollars and hired international architects Charles Rose (of Boston) and COLAB (of Portland) to create the organs of change that will begin to fill out their ambitious 15 year campus building campaign. This signals the end of Portland's self imposed exile from commissioning outside design firms (a gun shyness resulting from the horrible ergonomics of Michael Grave's Portland Building) and this critic couldn't be happier... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 01, 2010 at 16:00 | Comments (0)

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Friday 08.13.10

Clyfford Still Museum final design video

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lobby view still (from video) of the Clyfford Still Museum

In late July they finalized the design and now Denver's Clyfford Still Museum has released an excellent virtual tour of the building by Portland's own Brad Cloepfil. It's looking like it could be Brad's best design since the W+K headquarters and it doesn't hurt that Still is one of my favorite painters.

Overall, Cloepfil seems to have balanced both light and heavy massings of concrete texture to produce a serious building designed to... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 13, 2010 at 11:03 | Comments (0)

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Friday 06.04.10

Sneak peek at OCAC's significant architectural coup

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OCAC's new painting, drawing and photography building

Though it's over a hundred years old the Oregon College of Arts and Craft has been one of Portland's best kept secrets. So in a bid to reinvent the college they have boldly undertaken a 15 year, 3 part master plan by BOORA, and kicked it off with what looks like a fantastic new building designed by Massachusetts based architect Charles Rose + local/international firm Colab with landscaping by Murase Associates. It's a new center for painting, drawing photography... with studios. Also, much more than simply a cool building; it asks the school and Portland in general to live up to even higher ideals of art, design and ecology. Great architecture and design challenges us and Portland as an innovative, high quality human scaled city deserves to be challenged.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 04, 2010 at 14:00 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 11.11.09

Transit Bridge Developments Nov, 2009

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November 10, 2009 version of Willamette Transit Bridge

Yesterday's WRBAC meeting was interesting and more fiery, at least compared to previous meetings. It's detail time and the design of the new Transit/Ped/Bike bridge iis coming along. I like its triangular towers and belvederes designed to minimize the airfoil vacuums that flat towers create (dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians).

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WBRAC Committee (foreground) Donald Macdonald and Anna Valentina-Murch (center and right background)

I also liked that...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 11, 2009 at 18:59 | Comments (0)

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Friday 09.25.09

New Designs on Portland

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The design for the new leaf-shaped Rainwater Pavilion for the Tanner Springs urban wetland park in the Pearl District is pretty impressive. The pavilion designed by Herbert Dreiseitl (like the rest of the park) conjures "Space Elves" in my mind, something that would be hokey...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on September 25, 2009 at 11:30 | Comments (15)

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Monday 07.06.09

Willamette transit bridge design developments

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Donald MacDonald, the architect Trimet hired at the end of May to design the new multi-use transit bridge over the Willamette

At the July 2nd design meeting we were introduced to a new architect with a serious reputation and a preliminary but exciting new inwardly canted tower design with decks that protrude for better pedestrian/cycle lanes, a rather extraneous proposal for a waterfall, the misguided idea that Portlanders identify with salmon as a color as much as the actual fish, potentially tacky attempts to soften the inherently angular cable stay design, talk of observation decks, more tower designs and numerous innovative strategies to improve the bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

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a sketch for V style towers, which now seems out of favor.... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on July 06, 2009 at 9:30 | Comments (0)

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Monday 06.22.09

Bridging some gaps in the discussion

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Architect Donald MacDondald's "Refined" Cable Stay design, up for review today

Once again, discussion of the Willamette river transit bridge has heated up in anticipation of today's meeting for the final choice of bridge type. In my opinion it isn't bridge type that matters... it is the detailing of whatever design chosen that will determine how usable, environmentally sensitive, pride inducing, and ultimately successful the design will be. To bring everyone up to speed... PORT pretty much started the civic discussion over this bridge with our totally unofficial design competition, later we broke the images of the rather nice hybrid design that now seems out of favor with the committees. Frankly, I like pure cable stayed designs, they have generally cleaner lines and can span longer distances which can make for a smaller environmentally footprint... but the details have to be good and the discussion around them needs to be relevant to produce sensitive designs.

The stakes for this project are huge. In many ways Trimet and Portland's alt-city reputation as a green, civically progressive oasis in America is on the line. It's understandable but should Trimet really try to come in way under budget on what will likely be their most visible project ever?... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 22, 2009 at 11:00 | Comments (0)

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Thursday 03.12.09

Bridging design issues

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New cable stay/suspension combo bridge proposal

I've been wrestling with this new cable stay suspension bridge hybrid across the Willamette River for several weeks now and the designs went public last week. Im not exactly excited about this design but it's an intriguing alternative to the two pure cable stayed designs, both of which seem generic. Still, the effectiveness of the design varies depending on the view.

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detail of hybrid bridge

In profile from the middle of the riverr it looks very european and elegant, except that's not how most would experience the bridge....(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 12, 2009 at 9:23 | Comments (0)

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Saturday 10.11.08

Willamette Bridge Design Reactions

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a prelimenary wave frame bridge design for the Willamette

I'm certain PORT readers remember how we were dissatisfied with ZGF's preliminary design for the Willamette River pedestrian and light rail bridge and created our own design contest...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 11, 2008 at 22:35 | Comments (2)

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Friday 03.21.08

Thinking about The Living Room at MoCC

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Ornamental Modern at MoCC January 2008

This weekend marks the last for the Museum of Contemporary Craft's The Living Room, which ends March 23rd. With a novel cutaway layout, the show has had 3 different iterations, Mid-Century Modern, Ornamental Modern and the current Eco-Modern. My favorite is the current Eco-Modern, which sports a great 1970's weaving by Mike Walsh and an excellent Peter Voulkos or 2.

Lately with Dwell, Ikea, Design Within Reach and the mass appeal of Target's ad campaigns, modern design has enjoyed a pretty amazing resurgence. One of my favorite baristas refers to Dwell as yuppie porn but I think curator Namita Wiggers is going beyond the "simplify your hectic life" dream that seems to be fueling the interest. Instead, she looks at the links between craft and modernist furnishings and how the modernist aesthetic was mostly a "truth in materials and production" movement. She also mixes the new with vintage.

Here are two of my favorite living rooms:
...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 21, 2008 at 11:15 | Comments (0)

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Tuesday 02.12.08

PORT's Bridge Design Contest: Awards

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Sean Casey's elegant design

Sure the cost for a new light rail and pedestrian bridge is high, this should be expected as transit projects are never cheap but if Portland gets a new bridge over the Willamette it should embody the green and design ideals that Portland holds so dear...(more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 12, 2008 at 12:07 | Comments (0)

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Wednesday 12.26.07

2 New condos for the Pearl District: it's design review time

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The Casey

Ive been waiting for a slow week to discuss these two new condos in the Pearl District. Neither is a product of of the design deficient, "let's put brick on a 10+ story building to warm it up," school of thought.

First is The Casey, which is the first residential condo to sport a LEED platinum rating so it's very green conscious... (more)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on December 26, 2007 at 15:09 | Comments (4)

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