South Waterfront Construction

I was walking through the South Waterfront on Thursday and was excited to see all the construction going on.  I’m always enthusiastic to see development inside the city rather than in the suburbs, so any work is positive in my opinion.  I think the lack of old architecture is a bane to the health of South Waterfront.  Still, It’s incredible when you consider what this land looked like 15 years ago!  I’m excited to see it fully develop.

Here are photos of the Collaborative Life Science Building and the Portland-Milwaukie Lightrail Bridge:

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South of the Collaborative Life Science Building (on Moody) is The Emery, a new residential project by ZGF.  I think the cladding looks wonderful and it fits well against the hill and next to the Ross Island Bridge.  There is so much glass curtain wall construction to be found in the South Waterfront, it’s nice to see the solidity and color in this new project.

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US Bancorp Tower (“Big Pink”)

At 536 feet, The US Bancorp Tower is Portland’s second tallest building.  This modernist structure was designed by Skidmore, Owings, and merrill with Pietro Belluschi as a consultant.  The tower’s odd shape is a response to the unique diamond-shaped site on which it’s built.  The result is an extruded parallelogram-shaped tower with an ever-changing scale and proportion.  From the east or west, the building appears slender and tall.  However, when viewed from the north or south, the tower appears squat and wide.

The distinctive exterior cladding of copper and silver coated glass with Spanish granite gives the building  a variety of colors and textures.  Depending on the time of day, season, weather, and viewing angle, the it can appear pink, tan, orange, brown, gray, and even greenish.

The building’s tenants are almost exclusively commercial offices.  However, The Portland City Grill can be found on the 30th floor.  I took my prom date to eat there and we thought it was incredible.  Great views- sorry I didn’t take any pictures at the time!

Here are my photos and sketches:

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New State of Oregon Flag Proposal

When I began this blog over a year ago, I made a decision not to attach my own commentary on the local Oregon design that I feature. Many featured projects on this blog are controversial but I chose to focus on their design merits instead (examples are the OHSU tram, lightrail expansion, bridges, etc).

However, upon seeing Matthew Norquist’s proposal for a new state of Oregon flag, I knew immediately that I would be breaking my non-commentary rule. Mr. Norquist is a Gresham resident who has helped introduced Senate Bill 473 for a proposed new state of Oregon flag.

You don’t need to be a designer to spot bad design. I am a designer however, and here are some of my problems with the proposed flag: Aside from the dull yellow and bland blue, the star’s size and location present an obvious tangency issue. The proportions are a problem as well. Despite the water/agriculture symbolism  the thin strip of yellow at the end appears superfluous and unnerving to look at. The beaver is the correct size in relation to the whole flag, but much too large for the blue field in which it is placed. All the elements in this flag are competing for attention and it feels very inharmonious.  For examples of what I consider very good flag design, check out these Japanese prefecture flags.

I agree with Mr. Norquist that Oregon’s flag is bland and similar to other state flags (with one distinction- ours is two-sided). I also really respect his initiative and desire to have better design representing our state.  Unfortunately this isn’t better design and I worry that if adopted, it will be hard to replace anytime soon. Check his website if you want to learn more about his proposal.

Front and back of current flag:

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Oregon State Flag, Front and back

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Sellwood Bridge Move

On January 19, the 87 year old Sellwood Bridge began a 12 hour move to its temporary new home, a few yards downstream from its original location.  The 3,400 ton structure was slowly pushed north by a network of 50 hydraulic jacks onto five temporary support piers.  Making the whole operation even more complex is the fact that the bridge had to be moved at a skewed angle, with the east end moving 33 feet northward and the west end moving 66 feet.  With the bridge diverting the traffic, work can now begin on its replacement.

Here are my photos and sketches:

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St. Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park

I took advantage of the sunny weather last week and visited the St. Johns Bridge.  Because I walked across the bridge on my previous visit, I chose to explored below this time.  Under the bridge on the east side of the Willamette is Cathedral Park.  It’s one of my favorite green spaces in the city because of how beautifully the bridge dominates the landscape.  Walk under the bridge’s span and you will see that the lancet-shaped arches line up all the way across the river (it’s how park got the name “Cathedral”?).

 

Check out my previous St. Johns post here

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Portland Statues Part II

Here’s part II in my series of Portland statue sketches.  These sketches are of Chinatown’s entrance gate, Sacagawea in Washington Park, and Paul Bunyan in the Kenton neighborhood.

My first statue post can be found here: Portland Statues Part I

 

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Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Bridge

The Portland-Milwaukie light rail project is progressing and nowhere is it more evident than at the two towers which are growing out of the Willamette River.  When completed, this bridge will connect the west-side light rail to the new tracks on Grand Ave and the future Milwaukie track.  It will be the only bridge in Portland without auto access.  Two center lanes will be used for bus and light rail, with outer walkways for pedestrians.  Tri Met has a site for more information.  It has a ton of images about station layouts, track routes, etc (awesome!).  Check it out here: http://trimet.org/pm/

Here are my pictures and a notes:

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