What Will the Future Hold for SOM's Modernist Arena in Portland?

Built in 1960 and designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland—a modernist gem on the National Register of Historic Places—could soon face destruction, as the city council prepares to take a vote deciding between restoration or demolition.

Since the Moda Center, better known as the Rose Garden, was built next door and became the new host of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team, the Memorial Coliseum has been in a state of decline. Currently, the building generally only hosts infrequent concerts, as well as minor league hockey. However, Friends of Memorial Coliseum see it as much more than just an outdated venue, which is why since the building was first threatened with demolition in 2009 they've been campaigning for its preservation.

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© Wikimedia CC user Steve Morgan

Covering about four city-blocks worth of space, the building is a marvel of engineering, balancing on only four columns despite its large size. Furthermore, as described by the building's own listing in the National Register, “it is the only large-scale public glass-walled structure of its time in the Pacific Northwest.”

As Friends of Memorial Coliseum describes, “it’s not just a building. It’s not just a work of art. It goes back to our core values about who we are as a community, as a city.” This identity not only stems from the building’s rich basketball history, but also its status as a memorial for war veterans, and its incorporation of memorial courtyards.

© Flickr CC User The West End

Estimates for the cost of the building's redevelopment range from $37 million to $89 million, but the city’s available budget for the project is $23.3 million. Thus, over the next few months, the city council will deliberate the fate of the site and decide whether or not to tear the Memorial Coliseum down. To prevent this fate, Friends of Memorial Coliseum recently released the above video to explain the cultural significance of the building, and urging people to help save the building by voicing their opinion.

© Flickr CC User A.F. Litt
© Wikimedia CC user Steve Morgan

Lean more about the campaign to save Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the video above, or at the Friends of Memorial Coliseum website here.

© Flickr CC User Tony Webster
© Flickr CC user Kevin Chan

News via Friends of Memorial Coliseum, Citylab and Oregon Live.

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Cite: Sabrina Santos. "What Will the Future Hold for SOM's Modernist Arena in Portland?" 19 Aug 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/772065/what-will-the-future-hold-for-soms-modernist-arena-in-portland> ISSN 0719-8884

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