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Michael Graves and the Portland Paradox

  • Author(s): Chew, Jeffrey Brian
  • et al.
Abstract

Ever since the Portland Public Services Building first began sur­ facing from the floor of the Rose City, like some monstrous grey whale in search of air, attention has been focused on the building and its post-modern Ahab, Michael Graves. The subsequent application of paint to the concrete mass put the building and its architect front-row center in the minds of architectural critics, phi­ losophers, students, and sidewalk gawkers.

Looking somewhat like a giant unsolved Rubik Cube, the new building seemed a radical departure from the voluminous facades constantly redefining the Portland skyline. Pastel colors, sprayed into geometric designs, evoked memories of childhood play rather than government at work. Not since Pietro Belluschi unveiled the smooth-skinned Equitable Building in 1948 had the city been so radically shaken in its tradition of building design.

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