A Postmodern icon
The competition-winning Portland Building – controversial because of its bold forms, colors, and ornament – has been considered the first built building associated with Postmodernism and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While Michael Graves himself did not use the term Postmodern, he placed great importance on the legibility of the building through its composition, exaggerated forms, and color. The classical organization of base, middle and top, as well as the large columns flanking the central entrance, create a grand sense of order for this municipal structure.
Civic identity: art in architecture
To reinforce the association with Portland’s history, Michael invented the mythical symbol of Portlandia. The idea originated with the city seal where a mythical “Lady Commerce” presided over local land and sea. Michael thought the name was “simply too dull,” and Portlandia was born! She was rendered as a large copper sculpture by the artist Ray Kaskey – the second largest copper sculpture in the world after the Statue of Liberty – shipped to Portland by barge along the Willamette River, and placed above the front door.
Michael Graves, FAIA. Also involved: Patrick Burke, AIA, Karen Nichols, FAIA
Original Associate Architect: Emery Roth. Renovation Architect: DLR Group. Original Design-Build Contractor: Pavarini-Hoffman
Portland, Oregon (Americas)
1982, renovation 2020
National AIA Honor Award, Henry Hering Memorial Medal (for Portlandia)
Revival as a modern workplace
The Portland Building, a design-build commission, was constructed on a shoestring budget and deteriorated over time, in terms of both its infrastructure and its use as an effective government workplace. The local office of DLR Group, assisted by the Graves firm, proposed a dramatic overhaul, which opened to acclaim in 2020. Presented at the AIA National Conference, the renovation sparked fruitful debate about historic preservation of structures of that period, many of which were built of less durable materials than their predecessors.
At Michael Graves we create design that clients dream of. We not only care about what we create we care about who we create it for.
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
San Juan Capistrano, California
La Jolla, California
Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Princeton, New Jersey
The Hague, The Netherlands