Architecture City Guide: Portland

This week our Architecture City Guide is headed to Portland, Oregon. As one of the greenest cities in the world, it is a leader in sustainable architecture. Even though Portland is only the 29th most populous city in the U.S., it has the second highest number of LEED-accredited buildings. Only Chicago, a city more than four times the size of Portland, has more green buildings. Beyond its contemporary and green architecture it has a good variety of historic buildings that are worth visiting. We have put together a list of 12 contempory buildings to visit, but since we limited it to 12, it is far from complete. We would like you, our readers, to suggest other “must not miss” in the comment section after the break.

Architecture City Guide: Portland list and corresponding map after the break!

  • Wieden+Kennedy Headquarters / Allied Works Architecture
  • Wells Fargo Center / Charles Luckman and Associates
  • Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse / Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates with Broome Oringdulph Randolph, and Associates
  • Williams & Company Building /
  • Oregon Convention Center / Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF Architects)
  • Commonwealth (Equitable) Building / Pietro Belluschi
  • Hotel Modera / Holst Architecture
  • Rose Garden Arena / Ellerbe Becket
  • KOIN Center / Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF Architects)
  • bSIDE6 / Works Partnership Architecture
  • Ziba World Headquarters / Holst Architecture
  • Portland Building / Michael Graves

View Architecture City Guide: Portland in a larger map
Cite: Henry, Christopher. "Architecture City Guide: Portland" 18 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • John-David Carling
  • John-David Carling

    all Holst projects should be here!

  • so and so…

    While not buildings, per se, Lawrence Halprin’s parks are a must-see in Portland!

  • Chris H

    I’d definitely bump a few of those off the list for the more contemporary/recent projects below:

    1. Portland Aerial Tram – Angelil-Graham
    2. NW Glisan Building – Allied Works
    3. 12 West/Indigo – ZGF
    4. 937 and Clinton condos – Holst
    5. 1221 SW Alder and Departure – Skylab

  • Christopher Henry

    I love all these suggestions, especially the Lawrence Halprin parks. This list could have definitely used a little more variety. Thanks for the comments keep them coming.

  • Robert

    Let’s see…
    NOT the Rose Garden Arena,
    But Memorial Coliseum next door
    OHSU Campus (a few great buildings up there)
    St. John’s Bridge
    Pioneer Courthouse Square
    North Park Lofts
    The Metropolitain
    US Bank Corp Tower
    Portland State Urban Center
    Portland Art Museum

  • Steve

    Lets’s not forget the public schools which are falling apart for lack of money and the Sellwood bridge which is a 2 out of 100 for safety. While we’re at it, let’s include all the unpaved streets and ones with big potholes.

    Don’t forget about the empty condos by the OHSU parking lot shuttle we call the Tram. Or the rebuilt PGE park we poured $12M more into after we just spent $35M about 8 years ago.

    Maybe you should focus on what makes a good city in the real world instead of patting each other on the back.

  • so and so…

    Settle down Steve. Nobody is denying the importance of public schools and city infrastructure. However, many of these projects are also vital components of a successful city: mixed-use, multi-family housing, public parks, museums, etc. No need to be so harsh.

  • Steve

    “mixed-use, multi-family housing, public parks, museums, etc. No need to be so harsh.”

    Sorry, we’ve told this story for 30+ years abouta vital downtwon and it still needs fixing, you should really get a clue that depriving schools of money to fund some developer’s extravagance is very short-sighted.

    The way URDs are set up is by skimming property taxes from schools and diverting them to local develeopment districts, conveniently of which 90% are downtown.

    Meanwhile, Portlad is so creative that the only two developers who can do anything are either Homer Williams or Gerding-Edlen.

    If you are going to tell me having over-priced condos is so much better than schools, then I am going to be hard-pressed to say you have any vision of what we are sentencing our children to.

    Besides,you can’t create a neighborhood. Look at the Pearl/SoWA which are sterile places with huge subsidies. Then look at where people really go NW 23rd, SE Hawthorne, NE ALberta which came into being organically.

    • scott

      “Then look at where people really go NW 23rd, SE Hawthorne, NE ALberta which came into being organically.”….Really Steve-O?? I think the PDC would have something to say about that. Lots of people and lots more developers who actually give a damn about this city have poured tons of money into those areas over the last 30 years to make them “organically” become hot spots. I know we are in trouble with the schools and according to the last failed ballet measure, short sighted people seem to live in Portland, too, but not sure why we need to link this to having good architecture here.

      • Steve

        ” I think the PDC would have something to say about that.”

        I’d be curious as to what PDC would say. I’d love private developers putting money into things. When PDC does it, we get NE MLK with mixed use buildings with empty offices and pizza/beautysupply/coffeeshops on steet level.

        Let’s add in a mayor who thinks he is HowardRoark/FrankGehry who gives HomerWilliam/Gerding-Edlen every spare bit of coin he can steal with URDs and schools and the Sellwood bridge take another hit thru this theft of taxes.

        If govt wants to focus on LEED/sustainability how about instead of blowing $80M on an overpriced “iconic” green building, Sam sends out a memo – All thermostats set to 60/80F and LOCKED? Much simpler, cheaper and efficient.

  • w

    No big pink (US bank corp tower)? Its only the most visible and recognizable building in the city…

    On a smaller scale I’d recommend getting a drink Doug Fir lounge by Sky lab, really great interiors. Mississipi street is great and I’d second the suggestion on the Lawrence Halrin’s “fountains” The one on SW Market especially.

  • hea

    most people in portland hate half the buildings on this list, myself included. not worth visiting.

    aerial tram
    art museum by belluschi
    memorial coliseum
    12 + alder by skylab
    director park

    also worth mentioning: mt. angel abbey library by alvar aalto is just an hour away.

  • j

    holst is overrated