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The City of Portland, Oregon

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1120 SW 5th Ave, Room 901, Portland, OR 97204


Welcome to The Portland Building Reconstruction Blog!

Student Design Contest

student showing workWhen the final design drawings for the Portland Building Reconstruction Project are released, a group of middle school students from SE Portland will be especially curious.  

The students, from Ron Russell Middle School, spent some time learning about the project and creating their own designs for the public spaces in the building – and some of their ideas might just be picked up by the design team.  The City has been soliciting public input on what should be included when designing the building’s public spaces, and the Student Design Contest was organized to generate interest and gather input.  

In September, project team members representing various disciplines visited the school to teach students about the building and introduce the contest.  Winners were announced during an October 5 open house for the project, held at the school.  With parents and teachers in tow, students came to explain their ideas to visitors, vote for their favorite designs, and talk to professionals.  Project architects and leaders admired student design features such as a rose-petal fountain as a lobby centerpiece for the Rose City, a glass floor atop a walk-upon aquarium, a “stressless” City staff break-room featuring massage chairs, and a model focused on enhancing accessibility for people with disabilities. 

student workSubmissions came from 53 students in Craig Pyne’s Makerspace classes – a DIY class where students design and create together using computer software, a 3D printer, and art and hardware tools. Each of the students’ submissions showed thoughtful consideration of how the public spaces could be used and creativity on how to achieve these outcomes. 

As future users of a public building that is being designed to last well into the future, young people are key stakeholders. According to school principal, Andy Long, “I’m so grateful that the City took the time to work with our school, recognizing the talent and creativity of our students, and the importance of engaging outer southeast community members in major citywide projects.”

Some of the student design ideas are currently on display in the Portland Building’s 1st floor display case through Oct 28. 

Open Houses

You're Invited!

Portland Building Reconstruction Project Open Houses

Wednesday, September 28, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
The Portland Building, second floor
1120 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97204


 Wednesday, October 5, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Ron Russell Elementary School commons
3955 SE 112th Ave, Portland, OR 97266

Your invited to attend one of our open house events where you can learn about the project, meet the project team, and provide feedback.  The design phase of the project has begun, and this is an opportunity to get your questions answered and share your suggestions and priorities. What would you like your experience to be when you’re using the building? What you would like to see in the building’s public spaces? We want to hear from you. 

Project leads from the City will be there to meet you, along with representatives from DLR (the project’s design firm), Howard S. Wright (the contractor), and DAY CPM (the owner’s representative).  Visit with these team members to learn about various aspects of the project. 

Light refreshments will be provided. 

At the open house at Ron Russell Middle School, students who participated in a design contest will share their ideas for the design of the building’s public spaces, winners will be announced, and there will be activities to engage children. 

If you are unable to attend these open houses, you can share your ideas by answering a few brief online survey questions at:


Portlandia, on the Portland Building

From high above the entrance to the Portland Building, Portlandia reaches out toward the passersby below.  Portlandia is the City’s largest sculpture and the second largest copper repoussé statue in the country, only after the Statue of Liberty.  If she were standing, Portlandia would be 50 feet tall!

In 1981, the City of Portland held a national competition inviting artists to submit ideas for a sculpture to be part of the new Portland Building. Michael Graves, the building’s architect, envisioned a large sculpture of Lady Commerce, the woman depicted in the city's seal. 

In 1982, the City's Arts Commission, with public input, selected Raymond Kaskey’s design over the many other submissions.  Kaskey modeled the sculpture after his own wife, envisioning a much more powerful Lady Commerce than the other artists. The sculpture took three years to complete, requiring at least 50 hammer strokes per square inch.  Portlandia arrives

If you are a native Portlander, you may remember welcoming the 6.5-ton woman as she floated up the Willamette on October 6, 1985. 

For a statue of her size, Portlandia remains fairly inconspicuous - tucked three stories above ground on a relatively narrow, tree-lined street.  Kaskey safeguards Portlandia’s low profile, as he still retains the copyrights.  Her image is not plastered on tee-shirts and trinkets, nor can it be reproduced for commercial purposes without Kaskey’s permission.  While the world may not recognize Portlandia, Portlanders embrace her as a tucked-away emblem of our city. 


Welcome Howard S. Wright and DLR Group

By Fred Miller, Chief Administrative Officer

I’m pleased to be the first person to write a blog post for the Portland Building Reconstruction project. This blog will be updated every couple of weeks with pictures, historical facts, staff interviews, and other elements about the project you won’t get from meeting notes, assessments, or other documents found on the Portland Building website.

For the inaugural post, I’d like to welcome the newest members of our team – Howard S. Wright and the DLR Group, who were selected for the progressive Design-Build-Relocate portion of this project.  City Council approved the contract a little over a week ago, on July 27, and work is already underway.

This experienced team rounds out City staff and the Owner’s Representative, Day CPM, already working on the project.  There is great energy from the team and people are excited by the opportunity to be part of an innovative approach to reconstructing this iconic building.  The approach was selected because it integrates the contractor, designer, and owner throughout the design and build processes, and you end up getting more for your time and money.  This approach has been successful with other projects, but is new for the City.

Up until this point, most of the work has been behind the scenes.  Now, with the contractor and designer on board, things will begin to take shape, and we will soon be able to fill in the detail everyone is interested in knowing.  These include updated timelines (although we know the project will be completed by the end of 2020), decisions about employee moves (which will be decided this fall), and a better understanding of what is needed to address seismic concerns.   

Over the course of this project you can monitor progress and learn more about it from this webpage.  Here you will find timelines, opportunities for input, updates, and this blog, which will be updated every couple of weeks.  So keep checking back because more will be available and all of it should be interesting.