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What Should Be Done With The Portland Building?

OPB | Jan. 13, 2014 12:40 p.m. | Updated: Jan. 14, 2014 11:55 a.m.

Jeff Muceus - Creative Commons

Jeff Muceus - Creative Commons

It’s hard to find people that actually like the Portland Building. Architects and architecture critics around the country think of it as an eyesore. Workers in the building complain that it’s dim and dank. And city officials have been handed a steep $95 million bill to retrofit a building that is relatively young. It was completed in 1982.

But the building is historically significant. It is one of the first and most high-profile works of postmodern architecture. A brief, now unloved period in architecture history that was characterized by decorative, over-sized, almost ironic style, postmodern architecture rebelled against the more austere modernist style that preceded it. “It was architectural punk rock,” says Brian Libby, an architecture journalist who writes the Portland Architecture blog. And the building put Portland architecture on the map. “If you look in any architecture textbook, there are two Portland buildings,” Libby says, “the Equitable Building — now the Commonwealth Building — and the Portland Building.”

What do you think of the Portland Building? Do you think it should be retrofitted, razed, or ignored?

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