Astoria Column
Brewery Blocks
Bud Clark Commons
Charles F. Berg Building
Crater Lake Lodge
Equitable Building (Commonwealth Building)
The Gerding Theater at the Armory
Gordon House
Halprin Open Space Sequence
Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (Ecotrust Building)
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
Liberty Theater
Lloyd Frank Manor House
Marilyn Moyer Meditation Chapel
Mark O. Hatfield, U.S. Courthouse
Mount Angel Abbey Library
Multnomah County Justice Center
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Pittock Mansion
St. Johns Bridge
Temple Beth Israel
Timberline Lodge
Twelve West
US Bank-The US Bank Main Branch
Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade
Vista House
Watzek House
Yaquina Bay Bridge


Astoria Column


Architect: Electus Litchfield
Location: Coxcomb Hill, Astoria, OR
Time completed: 1926

The Astoria Column is the last of the twelve monumental markers in Ralph Budd’s project to celebrate the expansion of the United States to the West Coast. Astoria, Oregon, having played a critical role, was honored the marker, which is patterned after Trajan’s Column in Rome. Sitting high atop Coxcomb Hill, its location was chosen for its vista overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River.

The project was proposed in 1925 by Budd, who was the President of the Great Northern Railway. Vincent Astor, whose family played a significant role in Astoria’s development with its fur trading business, provided the funding. Along with the help of Electus Litchfield, an architect, A. B. Guthrie and Company, a construction company based in Portland, and Attilo Pusterla, an Italian artist, Budd produced a landmark for the Pacific Northwest.

Standing at 125 feet tall, the Astoria Column is built of concrete and conceals an interior spiral staircase. The 164 steps lead to an observation deck that features a cupola. The history of Astoria is depicted with a painted mural that uses an Italian Renaissance technique known as sgraffito, an application of a layer of plaster engravings. The story begins at the base with a beaver in a forest “before the white people arrived,” and wraps around the column at over 500 feet in length, ending with “the arrival of the railroad in Astoria.” The state seal of Oregon is adorned at the top to conclude the mural.

Though completed in 1926, the column was proven unable to withstand the stormy climate of the Pacific Northwest. Harsh and unanticipated weathering impaired the mural within three years of completion. Since then, the column has undergone many phases of restoration and was placed in the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Friends of Astoria Column dedicate themselves to the restoration and preservation of the column.


Brewery Blocks


Architects: GBD Architects
Location: NW Burnside to NW Davis between 10th and 13th streets, Portland, OR
Time completed: 2006

The Pearl District of Portland was redeveloped in the 2000s with the intent to revamp it into a mixed-use neighborhood in which its residents could live and work. The former Blitz-Weinhard Brewery location acted as a connector between the Pearl District and Downtown.

This project may be described as small scale urban planning as it spans up to five blocks and includes the development of seven mixed-use buildings, totaling 1.5 million square feet of urban retail, office spaces, art galleries, residential housing and underground parking. Two prominent buildings are The Henry, a 15-story mixed-used tower, and The Louisa, a 242-unit high-rise residential building. The developments focuses on creating a dynamic neighborhood while providing an active streetscape for pedestrians to experience the city’s art and culture.

The rich historical quality of the neighborhood has been maintained. The Chevrolet Building was restored into a Whole Foods, the Portland Armory Building was converted into the Gerding Theater, and Henry Weinhard’s Brewhouse was preserved. Throughout the entire project, 94% of the construction waste was recycled, while incorporating sustainable materials and green strategies such as energy-efficient appliances, high-efficiency glazing, rainwater harvesting, solar PV panels, and heat recovery ventilators. The Brewery Blocks projects earned a LEED Platinum rating, four LEED Gold ratings, and one LEED Silver rating.


Bud Clark Commons


Architects: Holst Architecture
Location: 665 NW Hoyt St., Portland, OR
Time completed: 2011

In 2005, the Portland City Council adopted the Home Again Plan to mitigate homelessness, a problem in Portland and Multnomah County. The goal of the plan is to find a solution to highly homeless populated areas in Portland. Part of this solution is the Bud Clark Commons.

Its site along NW Broadway, between the Pearl District and the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, was chosen to be near other resources for the homeless population. The project’s total cost was 47 million dollars. Holst Architecture was chosen to design the project, with the idea that “addressing basic needs is not exclusive of design that dignifies the human condition.”

The building is eight stories tall and contains three separate programs. The Men’s Shelter, which provides temporary housing, and the Day Center occupy the first through the third floors. They are accessible through a courtyard, which acts as a buffer from public to private space. These public floors are designed to be transparent, with floor-to-ceiling windows, not only to receive an abundance of daylight, but to also make the building’s street level more welcoming, better connecting it with the neighborhood. The upper floors hold 130 units of permanent housing. Its solid brick facade features a pattern of windows that are accented with shades of green.

In 2012, the Bud Clark Commons was awarded the AIA Secretary’s HUD award for Creating Community Connection. Not only does it aid the homeless community, the Bud Clark Commons also has a LEED Platinum certification. Some of the green features of the building include a heat-recovery system, a high-performance building envelope, solar panels that provide the majority of the energy needed for appliances, a grey water recycling system, and native, drought-tolerant plants in the courtyard. It is estimated that $60,000 is saved each year from the green strategies used in this project.


Charles F. Berg Building


Architect: Kim Weber for the Grand Rapids Design Service
Location: SW Broadway, Portland, OR
Time completed: 1902 and 1929

The Charles F. Berg Company started out as an umbrella and glove store in 1921 and flourished into a prominent women’s apparel store. Ready to expand its space, Charles F. Berg moved his business into what is now known as the Charles F. Berg Building. Originally constructed in 1902, the three-story building was remodeled in 1929 when the ornate facade was added to welcome the upscale retail business. The lavish facade, which contains inlays of 18 karat gold, is described by Bart King in “An Architectural Guidebook to Portland,” as “a rich black and gold, with panels of cream and dark aquamarine panels high up. These are decorated with designs of sunbursts, spirals, rain clouds, and peacocks on the third floor, with a zigzag pattern at the top of the building.” The Charles F. Berg building became part of the National Register of Historical Places in 1983, and is currently used as offices with retail spaces on the ground floor.


Crater Lake Lodge

Crater Lake Full

Architect: Raymond Hockenberry
Location: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Originally built in 1915
Rebuilt in 1994 by Fletcher Farr Ayotte

Since he first laid eyes upon the natural splendor of Crater Lake, William G. Steel was moved to preserve it. From that point on, he began a campaign to have the federal government declare the region a national park and give it the protection that such status provided. On May 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt granted Steel’s request and awarded national park status to Crater Lake which became only the seventh area to be declared such.

The idea of the Crater Lake Lodge had been planted in Steel’s mind along with his conviction to preserve the natural beauty of the area. In 1907, he established the Crater Lake Company in a tent city on the present lodge site. In 1909, Steel convinced Portland developer Alfred Parkhurst to help finance his dream of a permanent facility overlooking the lake from the edge of the caldera. The construction of the Crater Lake Lodge was originally set at $5,000 but quickly surpassed this sum. A lack of development at the park resulting in poor roads combined with the site’s remote location created problems with supplies for construction. The three-month window of construction allowed by the weather along with high demands for labor during these times drove up the labor costs and forced Parkhurst to find other ways to save money. At the end of construction in 1913, the project cost $30,000.

Due to the money saving efforts during construction and the lack of experience developing with snow loading of 15 feet, the original Crater Lake Lodge contained serious flaws. In 1989 just before the opening of the summer season, engineers contracted by the National Park Service to monitor the structural integrity advised that sections of the lodge were unsafe for occupation. In 1991, the original lodge was torn down and the new Crater Lake Lodge was built to resemble the original 1920’s exterior and interior while conforming to modern code and hotel standards.


Equitable Building (Commonwealth Building)


Architect: Pietro Belluschi
Location: 421 SW 6th Ave., Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1948

Acknowledged throughout the world as a classic, majestic skyscraper with its clean, simple aluminum and glass exterior, The Equitable Building, at only 14 stories, still stands tall as one of Portland’s finest buildings. The first of its kind, a sleek glass box tower, this building remains a vital member of classic modern American architecture.

With the aid of Mr. Ralph Cake, Chief Executive Officer of the Equitable Company, architect Pietro Belluschi was possibly ahead of his time. Mr. Cake was a powerful political figure, and while there was a slowing in development because of World War II, he was able to expedite the national building permit system and get the project quickly underway. By doing this, Mr. Cake ensured that The Equitable Building would be the first major project in the United States after the war. He was also able to receive materials faster through his connections, allowing Belluschi to be the first to work with new materials.

Comprised of reinforced concrete and using the latest in concrete technology, Belluschi was able to achieve a strength of 7,000 pounds per square inch (psi), allowing him to reduce the dimensions of the frame to a bare minimum. The exterior concrete is clad completely with thin sheets of aluminum to give the building a ‘light weight’ look. The building uses a lot of innovations that give it the title of firsts, such as:

  • 1st to be built after WWII
  • 1st to use aluminum cladding
  • 1st to be fully air conditioned
  • 1st to use reverse cycle heat pump
  • 1st extensive use of double paned tinted windows
  • 1st to use a window washing traveling tram, which has since become standard on high-rise building

Among many awards given the building, one of the most prestigious is the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Twenty-Five Award,given to buildings that prove the test of time. At the presentation of the award, a Mr. Frank Gehry, at the time, chairman of the jury, today a world-renowned architect and Pritzker Prize winner, said of The Equitable Building, the award was given in recognition of the building being a masterpiece in aesthetics, technology, and engineering.


The Gerding Theater at the Armory


Architects: GBD Architects
Location: 128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, OR
Time completed: 1891 and 2006

Originally built in 1891, the First Regiment Armory Annex, now commonly known as the Gerding Theater at the Armory, served as a n annex and drilling ground for the Oregon National Guard. The building was repurposed as a public events space until it was declared a fire hazard. However, as part of the Brewery Blocks development, this annex building was developed as home to Portland Center Stage, a resident non-profit professional theater company. The Portland Family of Funds and Portland Center Stage provided $38.7 million to renovate the Armory into a state-of-the-art performance facility. Countless events have taken place there since it reopened in 2006, and the building has attracted more than 150,000 people annually.

The building’s renovations came with all sorts of challenges–not only in preserving its original historical façade, but also in successfully splitting the interior area into two performance spaces, while maintaining fantastic acoustic design and keeping both well-connected to a shared lobby. The architect executed an exceptional “ship-in-the-bottle” renovation, in which all materials were carried through two 14-foot-wide doors into a 56,000 square foot space. A concrete box was developed inside the existing shell while preserving the old growth Douglas Fir trusses.

In addition to the amazing renovation strategies, numerous green strategies were incorporated. These include water conservation, natural ventilation, and an efficient lighting system. The Gerding Theater received a LEED Platinum rating and has since been recognized in the Wall Street Journal and in Forbe’s Magazine as one of the top 12 green buildings in the country. It has also received nominations for the Portland Downtown Rotary Club’s Environmental Excellence Award and the Portland BEST Award for Green Building.


Gordon House

GH 2008 Summer-Eric Silberg

Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Location: Next door to The Oregon Garden, Silverton, Oregon
Designed in 1957; Built in 1964
Moved to current location with restoration beginning in 2002

The Gordon House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, widely heralded as the greatest architect of the 20th Century. It is the only Wright-designed building in Oregon and the only one in the Pacific Northwest that is open to the public. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

The house was designed to follow Wright’s Usonian model, a design concept that changed the course of small house construction. His innovations included an open floor plan, gravity floor heat, carports, cantilevered roofs with broad overhangs and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Wright designed the home in 1957 for Conrad and Evelyn Gordon for their farm on the south side of the Willamette River in Wilsonville. The house was completed in 1964, and the Gordon’s lived there for over thirty years.

Descendants of the Gordon’s sold the property in 2000. The new owners agreed to donate the property to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy with a requirement that the house be moved off the property. In January 2001, The Oregon Garden agreed to move the house by a March 15 deadline. The house was moved 24 miles south to The Oregon Garden where it was restored and dedicated as a public museum in March 2002.

The Gordon House is open for guided tours, public events, art exhibitions, musicales, and rental for private events. Reservations are necessary.

Visit Gordon House Website


Halprin Open Space Sequence


Architects: Lawrence Halprin & Associates
Location: SW Clay to Lincoln between 1st and 4th avenues, Portland, OR
Time completed: 1978

In 1958, the Portland Development Commission was created and, with tax increment financing as a new tool, along with generous grants made available through the Federal Housing Act of 1949 for “slum removal” and redevelopment, took up its first project — the South Auditorium District.

Long home to Portland’s Jewish community, and increasingly to Italian, Greek, Irish and Roma immigrants, PDC surveys showed 62% of the area’s 385 buildings to be substandard.

By 1962, PDC had condemned 54 blocks for redevelopment and relocated more than 1,500 residents. A consortium of local & California developers won the bid for redevelopment. The City’s premier architecture firm at the time — Skidmore Owings & Merrill — joined the team and developed a “city within a city” scheme, in keeping with architectural thinking of the time.

PDC, however, independently hired landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and Associates, known for revolutionary new public spaces like Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco and Nicolet Mall in Minneapolis. For the Portland project, Halprin studied the High Sierra’s spring cascades and drew in his sketchbook a series of studies of water’s movement from mountain-top to sea. The resulting landscape, meandering through the “city within a city”, he called “The Portland Open-Space Sequence,” a series of fountains and plazas.

The Open Space Sequence essentially can be seen as a narrative. It begins at “The Source” fountain, which represents the origin of the stream. It then “flows” north to the Lovejoy Fountain Plaza, a jagged form emulating Oregon’s High Desert. The Pettygrove Plaza follows, with small mounds of landscape and a seemingly pliable sculptural fountain, evoking the characteristics of valley streams and meadows. Finally, it arrives at the sequence’s final destination, the Keller Fountain Park. This park, which occupies a small city block, was deemed as “one of the most important urban spaces since the Renaissance” by renowned architectural critic and writer Ada Louise Huxtable. The concrete fountain was designed by Angela Danadjieva, who was inspired by the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge. With the capacity of 75,000 gallons of water, and the ability to pump 13,000 gallons per minute, water washes dramatically over the blocky cascades, and into the lower pool, which is accessible with slates of irregular stepping stones. This expressive fountain was awarded a centennial medallion from the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1999.

In 2013, Halprin Open Space Sequence was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Described by nomination proponents as an “unprecedented sculptural wedding of public space, water, and reference to the natural landscape,” this addition to the list is especially impressive, as the sequence is under the organization’s 50-year-old guideline.


Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (Ecotrust Building)

J Voll Nat Cap Ctr

Architects: HOLST Architecture
Location: 721 NW 9th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 2001

The Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center was originally built as a warehouse in 1895. Although the architect for the McCraken Warehouse cannot be confirmed, its style can best be described as Richardsonian Romanesque. It was used for a wholesale company that sold building materials and enjoyed its proximity to the rail-lines, the major shipping option of the day. By the 1930’s, trucking had replaced the rail as the main mode of shipping; and, in response, the building housed 32 independent trucking companies and small retail operations.

The property was purchased in 1998 by Ecotrust, founded in 1991 with the purpose of promoting environmental initiatives in the Pacific Northwest. Ecotrust was founded on the belief that, along with the traditional considerations of economy and ecology, an additional factor of social equity must be taken into consideration in providing a strategy for sustainability. With these goals, Ecotrust has created the concept of “Salmon Nation,” a program in which “citizens” pledge to participate and encourage the development of a “conservation economy” following the above principles. To achieve this, Ecotrust has developed initiatives in five areas: Native Programs, Fisheries, Forestry, Food & Farms, and Citizenship.

The goal of the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center was to showcase the viability of conservation economy, while providing a facility to house the offices of Ecotrust. In accordance with this desire, the project achieved a Gold Rating Certification from the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

To achieve LEED Gold certification, the building included a variety of strategies from taking advantage of natural lighting and reducing the amount of site run-off to utilizing renewable or recycled materials in its construction.

The building’s tenants are a mix of civic, environmental, and retail organizations that have interests in sustainability, including Patagonia, Hot Lips Pizza, and City of Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development.


Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art


Architect: Ellis F. Lawrence
Location: University of Oregon Campus, Eugene
Originally built 1932
Addition and renovation by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge and SRG Partnership completed in 2005

Mrs. Gertrude Bass Warner donated the Warner Collection to the University in 1921 as a memorial for her late husband, Murray Warner. The collection primarily contained Chinese and Japanese pieces, but also works from Korea, Mongolia, Cambodia and Russia, as well as Asian-influenced pieces from America and Britain.

Then President of the University, Prince Lucien Campbell initiated a plan to build a museum to house the collection. The Dean of the School of Architecture, Ellis F. Lawrence, who was responsible for creating the museum’s design, joined him in this endeavor. After completing a fund raising campaign that took several years and earned $300,000, construction began in September of 1929. The Museum of Art was officially dedicated on June 11, 1932.

An expanding collection, innovations in modern museum practices, as well as increased use of the facility required a renovation to the original structure. After raising $14.2 million, the University began renovation and construction on the Museum in October of 2002. Along with updating the existing facility, the renovation added 38,154 square feet of new space, provided full accessibility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and provided spaces for educational use.

Visit Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Website


Liberty Theater


Architects: Bennes & Herzog
Location: 1203 Commercial Street, Astoria, OR
Time completed: 1925

Liberty Theater, a vaudeville-motion picture palace from 1925, is a rare Italian Renaissance entry in Oregon’s catalogue of architectural styles. Its unique architectural elements have impacted 50,000 people in the Pacific counties. This delicate theater was born from the partnership of Claude S. Jensen and John Von Herberg who developed several of the finest theater enterprises in the Northwest.

The Liberty Theater displays Romanesque style with Italian Renaissance flairs. Major elements include dynamic, lavish ornaments, such as the Hacienda styled tiled roof, Greek columns, and the silk chandelier in the auditorium. The paintings within the ornamental interior are painted by artist Joseph Knowles, whose vision was to evoke the aesthetics of Venice. Some have found similarities between the painted scenes and the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River, except that fishing boats would be present, rather than gondolas.

By the 1950s, the building began to show its age and called for a complete renovation. The most apparent repairs included replacing the original glass canopy with a modern marquee and installing a larger screen for the theater. In 1985, Liberty Theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and reopened in 2005. Currently it is run by a private non-profit organization as a state-of-the-art performing arts center. It partners with Portland State University and Clatsop Community College for institutional uses.


Lloyd Frank Manor House


Architect: Herman Brookman
Location: Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR
Time Completed: 1924

Located in the center of Lewis and Clark College campus on what was the Fir Acres Estate, the Lloyd Frank Manor House is a gem worth seeing. Designed by Herman Brookman, the estate was for ten years the residence of M. Lloyd Frank, an heir to the Meier & Frank department store. It has since been used as an administrative office building for the school. Randy Gragg in Portland Monthly Magazine praised it for its “classic pre-Depression mash-up of opulence and stylistic eclecticism,” and “merging of graceful period architecture and breathtaking landscape design.” The hill that it sits on overlooks eight acres of picturesque gardens framing Mt. Hood. Brookman’s sensitivity to the human experience led him to develop compressed rooms leading to grand halls that, in turn, reveal beautiful vistas in the building’s landscape.


Marilyn Moyer Meditation Chapel


Architect: Thompson Vaivoda Architecture
Location: Rocky Butte, Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1991

The Marilyn Moyer Meditation Chapel’s north wall is constructed entirely of glass, offering an unobstructed panoramic view of the Cascade Mountain Range. The Chapel is dedicated to motherhood.

In 1991, the Marilyn Moyer Meditation Chapel and The Grotto Garden Plaza was dedicated on the upper level. Recipient of both national and international architectural awards, the chapel has an uncompromising design that achieves its power through simplicity and clarity of form. Built of polished granite and glass walls, it perches dramatically atop a 130-foot sheer rock cliff. The front of the chapel presents a wide expanse of curved glass panels, each 28 feet high, lighted by an immense cross that can be seen for miles. It continues to offer one of the most spectacular views of the Columbia River and Mt. St. Helens in the area.

Visit Marilyn Moyer Meditaion Chapel Website


Mark O. Hatfield, U.S. Courthouse

hatfield ch_ex_09

Architects: BORA Architects and Kohn Pedersen Fox
Location: 1000 SW Third Avenue, Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1997

Clad in glass and limestone, the award-winning 16-story Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse is built in a key downtown Portland position, and completes the city’s nine-block government center. The diverse client/user group consisted of more than 200 individuals. They included General Services Administration, the Courts, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the City of Portland.

This building is composed of two dominant programmatic elements: the courts and the agencies that serve them. Each of these components is given a specific representation.

Unifying the diversity of these components in the exterior expression was the greatest challenge. The courtroom elements are made weighty. The agencies, the judges’ chambers and the public circulation galleries are made light. The building’s aesthetic derives from the dialogue between this lightness and weight.

Additional elements in the massing respond to site conditions. The tower marks the northern edge of the adjacent park. The glass wall of the public galleries deflects to the center of the park. The sail-like roof gestures to the Willamette River and Mount Hood in the distance.


Mount Angel Abbey Library

MA 121713 -575

Architect: Alvar Alto
Location: St. Benedict, near Mount Angel, Oregon
Time completed: 1970

Benedictine monks from the Abbey of Engelberg in Switzerland founded the Mount Angel Abbey in 1882, and in 1889 opened the Mount Angel Abbey Seminary. The monks brought with them a sizable collection of books but a fire in 1926 destroyed the original library building along with the majority of the collection. In 1932, the core of the present collection was acquired from the purchase of the contents of a used bookstore in Aachen, Germany. Over the years, the collection grew as more materials were assembled, and fields of study were added.

In the early 1960’s, the director of the library, Fr. Barnabas Reasoner, O.S.B. approached Alvar Aalto with the commission for the present library facility. Aalto’s love for the library as a building type, and his vision of the opportunities on the library site led him to accept the offer. After years of design and construction, the library was completed and dedicated in 1970. The library presently seats 200 patrons in 30 closed and 40 open carrels. Along with public and storage stacks, the library offers a comfortable reading room, a music listening and group study room, large study tables on the ground floor, and sunlit study areas around the staircases. The present collection numbers over 250,000 volumes with a full capacity of 350,000.

Among the features worked into the library, the most striking is Aalto’s lighting plan. Aalto is noted for his innovative use of natural lighting. For a library, he believed that the goal was to provide the best lighting for the patrons while not having the light directly on the books, and that the library should be an invitation to read and, as such, should not let the exterior scenery become a distraction. To accomplish this, Aalto used a combination of screened top lighting, reflected lighting, and screened vertical windows. The result is a space filled with diffused light which users report has little variation through the course of the day and assists in focusing concentration.

Visit Mount Angel Abbey Library Website


Multnomah County Justice Center

Justice Center ext -c.Timothy Hursley

Architect: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca
Location: Downtown Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1983

The Justice Center occupies a downtown site of major civic significance. The building is situated within the city’s government center along a north-south spine that parallels the Willamette Riverfront. The center faces Lownsdale Park, one of downtown Portland’s oldest and most beautiful wooded areas. When the Justice Center was proposed for the site, all concerned believed that its courtrooms and the police headquarters, as well as its proposed shops and restaurants, belonged in the company of collectively significant government structures. The jail, however, even when called a “detention center,” did not.

The design challenge was to weave a visually and functionally acceptable jail into a work of architecture that was to inhabit its public realm with elegance and dignity, and with compatibility “in both scale and materials” to the government buildings nearby. The three justice-related components ingeniously fit together under one roof to create an 18-story “public condominium.”

Given the complex organization of the building, its prominent urban site, and the need to reconcile both public and private faces, two “front doors” resulted: on the west, facing the park with the pedestrian arcade, is the principal public access to the courts and jail; on the east, facing the river, is the entrance to the city’s central police precinct and police headquarters. An interior public corridor connects the two entrances.

It is the building’s entries and lobbies that convey the majesty of the law. The west entrance, centered on the arcade, opens to a three-story, barrel-vaulted skylit lobby that connects by elevator and grand stair to the corridor adjoining the courtrooms on the third floor. In these spaces the architects devoted a generous portion of the building’s Percent-for-Art budget and commissioned many of the artworks that are integral parts of the building. Perhaps the most integral is the great arched stained glass window, designed by Ed Carpenter, which augments the glazed roof of the lobby.

From the building’s three-story base a setback triangulated tower emerges. The county detention center (floors 4 through 8) houses 430 pre-sentenced offenders and is separated from the police headquarters (floors 11 to 15) by a mechanical level (floor 9) and an outdoor and indoor recreational facility for inmates (floor 10). The tower’s polygonal shape is derived from the roughly triangular layout of 32-cell detention modules, clustered three to a floor configuration that provides optimum sight lines from security stations. The tower setback and its polygonal shape provide maximum separation between the detention center windows and those of the adjacent federal office building and other nearby high-rise office structures. A four-story, concave, glass curtain wall on the east and west facades illuminates dining and community spaces within the detention center.

The strongly articulated precast concrete skin creates a pattern of shade and shadow that unites the window systems. The light-colored precast relates in tone and finish to the limestone and granite of older landmarks nearby.


Pioneer Courthouse Square


Architect: Will Martin
Location: Yamhill to Morrison streets between 6th and Broadway avenues, Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1984

Only $24.00 and a pair of high boots was all it took for the first property owner to purchase the land where the now renowned Pioneer Courthouse Square is located. The block was the site for Portland’s first school. Shortly thereafter, it became the Portland Hotel where it served as a social center. The hotel was demolished in 1951 to make room for the automobile with installation of a full city block of parking. Due to progressive civic leadership in the 1970’s, Portland worked to revitalize its downtown, including a move away from the use of automobiles and back toward mass transit. The demolition of the parking garage and creation of Pioneer Courthouse Square remains a major landmark of this effort.

The city secured the land as public space in 1971. In 1984 the Square was opened and dedicated thanks to some unique fundraising. By selling bricks on which people and/or families could have their names inscribed, funds needed to complete the project were generated. There are now over 68,000 named bricks in the Square. They pave a majority of the Square’s walkable surfaces.

A number of other amenities make this public space appealing to so many users (over 21,000 people a day). In the northwest corner of the Square is a weather machine that displays one of three weather symbols to represent the day’s climate. Helia, a stylized sun represents sunny/warm days, a blue heron is used for days of drizzle and transition, and a dragon is reserved for stormy weather. Across the Square, you can find a friendly hand offering an umbrella in the famous statue titled “allow me”. This art installation designed by J. Seward Johnson is a popular icon to the Rose City. Another noted architectural feature of the Square can be found in the northeast corner, where the original gate from the Portland Hotel stands in the exact same location it stood in service to the hotel.

Many additional amenities aid and contribute to the success of the Pioneer Courthouse Square in its service to the city. Affectionately known as the City’s “living room”, the Square is one of Portland’s leading outdoor venues, hosting over 300 events each year that range from large-scale concerts to cultural festivals.

Visit Pioneer Courthouse Square Website


Pittock Mansion


Architect: Edward Foulkes
Location: 3229 NW Pittock Drive, Portland, OR
Time completed: 1914

Henry Lewis Pittock and Georgiana Martin Burton were happily married for 60 years with five children in a mansion that sits on 46 acres of West Hills in Portland. The mansion was built for the particular interests of the couple. Henry was an active outdoorsman and was part of the first parties to climb Mt. Hood. The mansion, therefore, provided a view of five mountains in the Cascade Range. It has a Renaissance-style garden, including a blooming garden terrace back-dropped by downtown Portland. This is most likely due to the dedication of Georgiana, a founder of the Rose Festival, who had a passion for gardening.

The mansion has a French Renaissance exterior, with a red-tiled roof and masonry walls. The interior is a collection of styles, varying from the 17th to the 19th centuries with both French and English influences. There are a total of 22 rooms within the three-story mansion, the largest being a playroom which is big enough to ride tricycles in. Each room was crafted delicately, from its oak-paneled library to its French-style oval drawing room, resulting in an elegant residence.

Members of the Pittock family lived in the mansion until 1958. During its vacancy, the mansion was damaged by trespassers, and the roof was destroyed by the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. After six years, the City of Portland recognized the significance of the mansion to the city, bought it for $225,000 and began preservation work. This site has overlooked Portland for almost 80 years, but one may still find something new while visiting the historical site; mountain outlines peak through the clouds and the staff extend great effort to maintain the place. It became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and now receives more than 60,000 visits annually as a public museum.


St. Johns Bridge


Designers: Robinson and Steinman
Location: spans the Willamette River, connecting St. Johns neighborhood and Linnton, Portland, OR
Time Completed: 1931

Spanning nobly across the Willamette River, the St. Johns Bridge was the largest of its kind in the world when it was completed in 1931. During the early 20th century there was a need to replace the ferry service, which “shuttled over 1,000 vehicles a day,” with a bridge between the St. Johns and Linnton neighborhoods in Portland. Though the residents of Multnomah County were reluctant to fund it due to skepticism of its political and economic contributions to the city, the votes finally gave in under pressure to build the river’s eighth span in Portland.

David B. Steinman, a notable structural engineer, was chosen to execute the design and engineering of the bridge. He proposed two designs, a cantilever bridge, and a suspension bridge. Though the suspension design was chosen due to lower costs, this decision still birthed one of the most structurally significant, yet elegant bridges of its time–perhaps all time.

Built in 21 months, and coming in at one million dollars under its $4.25 million dollar budget, the concrete and steel structure set several engineering records, including:

  • The longest suspension bridge west of Detroit
  • No conventional diagonal bracing in its steel towers
  • The world’s largest and longest pre-stressed twisted rope strand cables
  • The world’s tallest reinforced concrete pier at 183 feet
  • A record height of 205 feet underclearance at the center span

Though these records have since been exceeded, the grace of the St. Johns Bridge remains. It is best known to Portlanders for its gothic-like motifs, a characteristic of Steinman’s work. As a designer, he believed in associating form with the appropriateness of materiality. He claimed that his use of pointed arches with steel, is “the expression of flexural material.”

Today, the underside at the East end of the bridge is known as “Cathedral Park.” This by-product of the bridge features the bridge’s arcade of gothic piers. Though Steinman and his firm are known for many beautiful bridges around the world, he is quoted as saying, “If you asked me which of the bridges I love best, I believe I would say the St. Johns Bridge. I put more of myself into that bridge than any other bridge.”


Temple Beth Israel


Architects: Morris H. Whitehouse, Herman Brookman and Harry A. Herzog
Location: 1972 NW Flanders St., Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1928

Considered by many to be one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture on the West Coast, Temple Beth Israel finds itself among the elite architectural monuments in Portland. Most of the Temple’s design concepts were derived from the Steelerstrasse Synagogue in Essen, Germany, a temple that is said to be the most ambitious synagogue in Germany in the pre-World War I period. The Temple is comprised of a centrally located dome that is abutted by four stair towers, also keeping it within the Byzantine style. This design sets it apart from Beth Israel’s first temple, which was done in the style of early Christian churches with a center aisle, nave and crossing.

The biggest element that distinguishes this building as a synagogue and elevates it to monument status is its dome. Constructed of steel and plaster, the dome rises 100 feet in the air, dwarfing the nearby buildings that existed during the dedication. On the exterior of the dome, handmade terra-cotta shingles imported from California were used to aid in the longevity and aesthetics of the structure. Throughout the rest of the exterior, stone was quarried from as near as Olympia, Wash. and as far away as the country of Norway. By using the large stone pieces, the Temple establishes a very magnificent and solid presence.

While the temple is magnificent in scale, it is extraordinarily intimate in detail. Lining the inner layer of the double-dome are acoustic tiles that give off the imagery of a heaviness while in actuality are light enough to float in water. In the center of the dome is a highly ornate oculus that is filled with a golden and glass-and-hard-plaster Star of David.

The most impressive feature however may lie in the brilliant bronze ark doors. Located on the Bimah (pulpit), the arc doors are used to separate the area where the Aron haKodesh (Ark) is held and only the High Priest may enter. The doors are full-length sculpted bronze, each weighing 750 pounds. The design concept comes from Moses and the Burning Bush, with sculpted flames rising to form the “watchwords” of the Jewish faith at the top of the doors. In addition, there is the image of two tablets containing the Ten Commandments.


Timberline Lodge


Architects: W.I. Turner, Howard Griffin, Dean Wright, Linn A. Forrest, and Ward Ganno
Location: Mount Hood, Oregon
Time completed: 1938

In the midst of the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) sought work for the thousands of people who suffered unemployment. One such project was Timberline Lodge, constructed at 6,000 feet on the south slope of Mount Hood. Workers on the project lived in a tent city and earned between 55 and 90 cents an hour, with three meals a day provided.

From the initial ground breaking in June of 1936, construction was completed in fifteen months with official dedication on September 28, 1937. After completing final detailing on the interiors, Timberline Lodge was opened to the public in February of 1938. According to WPA records, the actual building of Timberline Lodge cost $695,730, but when the improvements to the roads and development of the grounds are taken into account, the total cost was probably $1,000,000.

The lodge consists of a central hexagonal lobby with two wings extending from it. The building faces south to preserve the mountain views and is laid out to avoid catching snow on the uphill side. The steep roofs and stonework echo the setting in which the lodge stands and serves to tie it into its surroundings. Along with the use of native building materials for the construction, local artists and craftspeople were commissioned to detail the interior of the lodge, creating the unique metalwork and textiles, which have become a signature of Timberline Lodge.

The lodge is administered by the US Forest Service and operated under lease since 1955 by the RLK Company. In 1975, the Friends of Timberline, a non-profit organization, was created to assist the Forest Service and RLK Company in preserving the Lodge. In 1978, Timberline Lodge was declared a National Landmark. It annually hosts about 1.4 million visitors, of whom only about 225,000 are skiers.

Visit Timberline Lodge Website


Twelve West


Architects: ZGF Architects
Location: Washington Street between 12th and 13th Avenue, Portland, OR
Time completed: 2009

Twelve West is a high rise building that sits in southwest Portland, adjacent to the lively Pearl District and downtown business district. Its major goal is to connect these different districts in Portland and reach “the highest level of urban sustainability.”

Standing at 23 stories tall–its function is mixed-use, housing retail spaces on the ground floor, four levels of office space (ZGF Architects), and twelve levels of apartments that overlook downtown Portland. Underground parking is incorporated to increase urban density. The building’s location and combined functions of the spaces promote a healthy quality of life for its occupants. It creates a pedestrian-friendly environment to promote a car-free lifestyle. The retail stores and restaurants at the base of the tower reinforce this idea and strengthen the activity flow.

The semi-opaque transparency of the glass façade provides an inviting and active presence while bringing in an abundance of light. In order to create a beautiful façade, even on an overcast day, the glass panels reflect the grey sky into a blue tone. The majority of the interior spaces have wood finishes which carry the idea of the Pacific Northwest. The office spaces follow an open floor concept in order to let daylight penetrate throughout. There are one, two, and three bedroom apartment units, all with exposed concrete which provides a loft-like feel to the residences. Two color palettes are used on certain floors, depending on the natural daylighting. The north side receives a softer daylight, so the walls are painted a warm, neutral light-reflecting color; on the south side, apartments draw in more intense lighting where a cool, higher contrast color is more suited.

Though the Twelve West tower may be immediately apparent as a green building with its rooftop wind turbines, many of its significant green features are not so visible. With its efficient daylighting system, natural ventilation, and night-flush of its thermal mass, it’s estimated that it saves 45% of energy compared to a baseline code building. With all these green design features, Twelve West received two LEED Platinum Certifications, serves as a laboratory for cutting-edge sustainable design strategies, and was the 2010 Top Ten Award Winner in the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects.


US Bank
The US Bank Main Branch

US Natl Bank-Commonwealth Bldg

Architect: A.E. Doyle
Location: 321 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1917

Built in 1917 and added to in 1925, the US Bank building was built in two stages that allowed it to occupy half of the National Bank Block in Portland. The location of the first project was at the corner of Southwest Sixth and Stark, later extended west to border Broadway. One of the west coast’s leading architects, A.E. Doyle designed the bank in the Classical temple style after the famous Knickerbocker Trust Bank in New York designed by McKim, Mead and White. This style was considered at the time by US Bank president J.C. Ainsworth to ‘embody the most modern type of bank architecture’.

When visiting this magnificent building, the first architectural elements you are likely to notice are the freestanding monolithic columns designed in the Corinthian order. The Corinthian order was chosen for the entire exterior of the building, in part to set a contrast between this building and the Doric order of the rival First National Bank. Large bronze doors to the lobby greet visitors at the entry. Arvard Fairbanks, a former sculptor and professor of the University of Oregon designed these doors, which were inspired by the fifteenth century “Gates of Paradise” located in the Baptistery in Florence, Italy.

The Bank’s interiors are just as ornate and detailed as the exterior, having been built in a period before the modern movement removed ornamental architecture, and in a time when no dollar was spared to create a masterpiece. Three different colors of marble are present in the main lobby; each traveling from far reaches around the world. The white marble that can be seen in the floor and columns came from Italy; the red marble in the floor traveled from Hungary; and finally, the black marble at the counters found its way here from quarries in Belgium. The ceiling displays excellent artistry in ceramic bas-relief that was made in casts that were hand carved. Architect A.E. Doyle carefully oversaw the hand painting of the bas-relief, which has never needed to be repainted.


Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade


Designers: Mayer/Reed
Location: Willamette River Bank, Hawthorne to Steel bridges, Portland, OR
Time completed: 2001

The Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade is a floating pathway along the Willamette River dedicated for bicyclists and pedestrians. It was proposed by city planners as early as 1988 as a part of a downtown renewal project. The original master plan describes it as “an esplanade with docks, piers, overlooks, a plaza for festivals and gatherings, floating walkways, fountains, public art, and connections to the neighborhoods and Portland’s bridges.” The Esplanade was named after Vera Katz, Portland’s mayor from 1993-2005, for her support of the esplanade’s construction.

At 1.5 miles long, the Eastbank Esplanade runs from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge. The project was designed by Mayer/Reed, an urban design and landscape architecture firm in Portland, and was completed in 2001. Thirteen markers are placed on the esplanade to coincide with the street grid of the east side, along with interpretive panels with information on the history of the area’s development.

The Eastbank Esplanade project pays special care to the river’s habitat area for wildlife. From reshaping the riverbank to allow for shallow habitat, to using bio-engineering techniques to pre-treat runoff of Interstate 5 to minimize pollution, to timing its construction schedule to prevent disturbances in fish migration, the Eastbank Esplanade is a wonderfully fitted addition to Portland.


Vista House


Architect: Edgar M. Lazarus
Location: Crown Point State Park, Corbett, Oregon
Originally built 1916-1918
Renovation by Saul Zaik completed in 2005

In 1913, Samuel Lancaster, the Assistant Highway Engineer for Multnomah County, supervised the Columbia River Highway project. In his desire to inspire the traveler and provide access to the wonders of the Gorge, Lancaster dreamed of a building project at the summit of Crown Point. For Lancaster, Crown Point was the ideal site in providing views both up and down the Columbia where the visitor could be “in silent communion with the infinite.” He also believed that such a structure would be a memorial to the trials of the early pioneers to the Oregon country as well as serving as a comfort station for travelers on America’s greatest highway. By 1915, Lancaster’s proposal was accepted, and Portland Architect Edgar M. Lazarus was awarded the design of the Vista House.

On June 6, 1916, the Columbia River Highway from Portland to Hood River was dedicated at Crown Point. Later that year, construction of the Vista House began. The construction was undertaken by Multnomah County under the direction of the county road master, John B. Yeon. Samuel Lancaster, the visionary of the Vista House, also contributed the plans for the interior decorations. The total cost of construction was approximately $100,000.

From its completion, the Vista House has hosted a number of commercial enterprises including a post card printing shop and store, and various gift shops. In 1982, the Friends of Vista House formed and worked in cooperation with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to provide more education to the public and operate the building in a more interpretive manner. In 1994, the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, the State Historic Preservation Office and the Friends of Vista House financed a study to document the current condition of the Vista House. During August of 2001, the Vista House was closed in order to begin extensive renovations for which $4 million were raised; completion of these renovations is scheduled for spring of 2005.

Vista House is approximately 44 feet in diameter and 55 feet high. The floors and stairs in the rotunda and the wainscoting in the lower level are Tokeen Alaskan marble. Most of the interior of the rotunda is light cream and pink Kasota limestone (marble), including the hard-carved drinking fountains. The inside of the dome and its supporting ribs were painted to simulate the marble and bronze originally planned for the structure. The exterior is faced with light gray sandstone. The upper windows are greenish opalized glass, like the original. The rotunda windows are also greenish opalized glass with clear glass in the viewing areas. The roof was originally surfaced with matte-glazed green tiles. It was covered with a copper crown for more than 50 years. During the 2002 exterior restoration, a new glazed green tile roof was installed over a protective dome membrane.

Visit Vista House Website


Watzek House

SEA Watzek_exterior

Architect: John Yeon
Location: 1061 SW Skyline Blvd., Portland, Oregon
Time completed: 1937

In the early 1930’s, local ‘lumberman’ Aubrey Watzek began looking for an architect to design a house for himself and his mother on a rural site outside of Portland. In 1936, John Yeon was chosen to design the project. Only 26 at the time, Yeon had not designed a building on his own; his only experience as an office boy in the office of A.E. Doyle and his travels. Construction of the house was completed in 1937.

His first work, the Watzek House was widely published and acclaimed from its completion in 1937, including its inclusion in the book, Built in USA – 1932-1944, published by the New York Museum of Modern Art. With the completion of the house, Yeon was declared one of the early pioneers of the Pacific Northwest Style which is characterized by use of local materials such as cedar and fir, sensitivity to the site, large windows with which to take in the view and bring in light, shallowly pitched roofs, and informal client lifestyle.

Aubrey Watzek occupied the Watzek House until his death in 1973, after which John Yeon purchased the property and it became the residence of Richard Louis Brown who inherited the house upon Yeon’s death on March 13, 1994. Following Yeon’s death, Brown donated the Watzek House to the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts (UOAAA), maintaining a life estate. The George and Margaret Cottrell House was also donated to UOAA by Margaret Cottrell who maintained a life estate. The Shire, a 75-acre waterfront site that Yeon purchased in 1965 to protect from industrial development was donated to UOAAA by the John Yeon Charitable Estate, of which Brown was the controlling trustee. With these donations, the University created the John Yeon Center for Architectural Studies and The Shire: The John Yeon Preserve for Landscape Studies.

The Watzek House itself consists of a living room, library, dining room, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, pantry, kitchen, and servant quarters of two small bedrooms and bathroom. There is a basement and garage. The main house is about 4500 square feet, about 7500 square feet with the basement. The elements are organized on three sides of a square, around a courtyard, with a garage and wooden wall enclosing the western side. Each wing of the house has a separate pitched roof, which viewed from the driveway approach, matches the slopes of Mount Hood that can be seen in the background. Among the custom features used by Yeon are the first use of double pane windows in Portland, the use of separate ventilation vents to preserve window views, and concealed gutters and downspouts. The materials used are primarily native woods — much of it unfinished — with marble and brick for the fireplaces.

Visit Watzek House Website


Yaquina Bay Bridge


Designer: Conde McCullough
Location: Highway 101 over Yaquina Bay, Newport, OR
Time completed: 1936

The Yaquina Bay Bridge, spanning the Yaquina Bay of Newport, Oregon, is perhaps one of the most recognizable bridges on the Oregon Coast. Designed by Conde McCullough who advocated that bridges should be economical, efficient, as well as beautiful, this bridge is evidence of McCullough’s dedication to his design principle. In 1919, McCullough became the state’s bridge engineer and was responsible for the construction of hundreds of custom-designed bridges along the coast of Oregon.

The Yaquina Bay Bridge greatly improved the speed of travel across the Bay, which prior to the bridge’s completion was by ferry. The addition of the bridge not only made commuting more efficient, it also provided a local landmark.

The bridge is a combination of steel and concrete arches. The main steel arch spans 600 feet and is flanked by two 350 foot steel arches, in which the south end is succeeded by five concrete arches of diminishing sizes. McCullough also incorporated art deco details in various elements of the bridge to further enhance its beauty.

The addition of the Yaquina Bay Bridge impacted the development of the area heavily. The business center, which occupied the Bayfront when the ferry service was in operation, shifted towards Highway 101, creating what is now called the Art Deco District, Newport’s city center. The district’s development, inspired by the art deco theme of the bridge, is integral to McCullough’s legacy.

We all know and revere the natural beauty of our beloved state and have our favorite hiking trails, mountain streams, ocean beaches and awe-inspiring views. There are stunning treasures, too, among Oregon’s built environment, some of which we are happy to share with you here. Perhaps there is a notable building in your corner of Oregon that we’ve overlooked. Send us an email. Maybe you’ll find your favorite joining our list.