Delisting a Postmodern Landmark

John Hill
18. Juni 2019
Michael Graves' Portland Building in August 2017 (Photo: Google Street View)

Changes to the facade of the Portland Building, the 1982 Postmodern landmark in Portland, Oregon, designed by Michael Graves, will result in it being removed from the National Register of Historic Places.

Michael Graves' Portland Building in August 2018 (Photo: Google Street View)

In its National Register listing from September 2011, the National Park Service (NPS) describes the Portland Building's significance "as one of a handful of high-profile building designs that defined the aesthetic of Post-Modern Classicism in the United States between the mid-1960s and the 1980s." Structural issues and water damage requiring around $100 million in repairs pushed Portland in 2014 to consider demolishing the building, but the following year the city opted for renovations instead. Originally clad in painted concrete, tile, and dark glass, the new facade consists of aluminum rainscreen panels and clear glass.

Photo: DoCoMoMo Oregon/Twitter

A City of Portland audit, found via Archinect, indicates the "State Historic Preservation Office ... will initiate a delisting process after the Portland Building is almost complete," even though the new facade matches the pattern of the original design. This comes in response to a January 2017 statement from the NPS that "it would remove the Portland Building from the register if the City pursued the proposed exterior design." Although the building's removal from the National Register is guaranteed, the audit indicates landmarking the building locally could happen afterwards.

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