Princeton, NJ – Designed by international architects and designers Michael Graves & Associates (MGA), The Portland Public Service Building, known simply as The Portland Building, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.
“It pleases me tremendously that the Portland Building has been given National Historic Register designation,” said Graves. “The building occupies such a pivotal place in the architecture of the last quarter of the 20th century and its appropriateness for historic status has now been confirmed. The building represents the first of many which have helped redefine the traditional urban fabric of our cities.”
Graves’ design for The Portland Building was selected in a 1980 design-build competition sponsored by the city of Portland, Oregon, and it immediately became a subject of national debate for the architecture community. Occupying the entirety of a 200-foot square block in downtown Portland, the 15-story building houses the city’s municipal offices. It is adjacent to City Hall and County Courthouse buildings on two sides, and the public transit mall and the park on the other two sides. The design emphasized engagement with the site’s physical and historical context and its stylized references to local colors and historical symbolism were among the earliest examples of tactics now considered definitive of Postmodern classicism.
Construction was completed in 1982, and according to Graves, its opening marked the “first built example of a building that tried to break loose from the strictures of commercial modernism.” It is widely credited with ushering in the rejection of modernist styles and pioneering a return to classicism in architecture.