The Portland Building, Oregon's well-adorned, multi-hued office tower, was hailed as America's first postmodern building when it first opened in 1982, but has since attracted so much criticism, the city's considering spending $95M to update it—or even more to tear it down and rebuild it altogether. Recently, Michael Graves, famous American architect and the guy responsible for the building, finally sat down with Randy Gragg, director of the University of Oregon's John Yeon design research center, to respond to the non-stop attack on his work.
In short, Graves thinks demolition is just an abominable suggestion. "The whole idea of tearing the building down, it's like killing a child," he said. Graves defended the building vehemently, dissing Portland's Congress Center, which has a façade of reflective dark glass, along the way: "If I had to make glass boxes all day I'd rather practice law." To Graves, all the faults of the building came from its low budget and how terribly the city dealt with the interior design—nothing that a few simple changes couldn't ameliorate. Here now, Graves on the various ways the Portland Building can become, well, a less miserable place:
5. On the dingy and inaccessible ground-level covered walkways: Light them properly or "fill them in, let the glass come out to the front face."
4. On the underground parking garage notoriously hellish for pedestrians: "Get rid of the cars" and put something else there, maybe a store. "Call it the Gap."
3. On the tiny, tinted windows that make the whole place a drab: "You can't simply enlarge the windows. The windows are set, I'm afraid." But install clear glass in place of tinted ones, including some of the building's non-transparent spandrel.
2. On the claustrophobic office space: two words: open plan. Tear out the cubicles, put in long banqueting tables. "People could come in and put their computers down," he said, "and may not have the same desk the next day."
1. On the building's lobby which Graves himself compared to a pig pen: "It's your city building," he said. "Somebody should take care of it."
· The Portland Building: Architect Michael Graves fiercely defends his controversial creation against demolition [Oregon Live via ArchDaily]
· All Michael Graves posts [Curbed National]