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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wraps come off Christo building in Lents

A reader reports that the plastic that once surrounded the years-vacant building at I-205 and Woodstock Boulevard has been removed. There is still no sign of occupancy, the sidewalk's still fenced off, and there is still plywood on some of the windows, but at least the shroud is gone:

There's nothing quite like an infill bunker just a-gleamin' in the sun.

Comments (21)

In less than 10 years a tennament!

Is the fence to keep us out or them in?

Even Joe Weston never built one that crappy. Yuk. Looks like the motel whose vacancy sign you would look at and still drive on to the next town.

Didn't I see a whole pile of those in East Germany, Romania and some other bastions of freedom.


Jim--yes, P.J. O'Rourke refers to that as stack-a-prol architecture.

Looks like they got the same architect as Motel 6.

Portland's own version of khrushchovka. No kidding.

Cover it back up.

"Portland's own version of khrushchovka. No kidding."

My thought exactly - although khrushchovki were generally five stories. (Soviet regulations required an elevator if an apartment building was six stories or higher, so a lot of five story apartment buildings got built.)

The great dream of Portland planners is to house Portland's population the way the Soviet population was housed - with cars reserved only for a thin slice of the political elite, just like in the USSR.

Looks like a cheap hotel, like a Motel 6 or Super 8. Give it five years and thanks to the elimination of the Prostitution Free zones, this will be a hot bed of that sort of activity.

Go by MAX!

How close it this to that food waste facility?
Workers working there will be living here?
What a life in pdx!

Workforce Housing is a newer phenomenon of PDC's urban renewal giveaways, along with Student Housing recently joining in.

Federal guidelines limit Workforce Housing to those making up to 30% of the area's Medium Family Income (MFI). But Portland is more liberal-80% of MFI. Portland's 2012 MFI is $40,400 for one member household to $54,400 for 4 members. And Portland is more liberal in defining Household; it's anyone living together, not required to be a family.

So PDC/CoP has opened another pandora's box to the subsidy world. The Lents URA and its Christo Building feeds into it.

The great dream of Portland planners is to house Portland's population the way the Soviet population was housed - with cars reserved only for a thin slice of the political elite, just like in the USSR.

Well put. I wish more people would realize this.

The great dream of Portland planners is to house Portland's population the way the Soviet population was housed - with cars reserved only for a thin slice of the political elite, just like in the USSR.

This may be so. If it is, who is benefiting from this plan? Is it another perk for developers along the way, or is there something else going on here?

The only thing Portland's public housing design has in common with E. Europe's (and Japan's, and France's, and big-city US design from before 1970, and plenty of others) is depressing ugly rectangular buildings. That's it.

Ugliness, or even density, is not what makes that type of development bad. Those other examples of urban design are based on groups of apartment blocks set amid parks or parking lots set apart from the neighborhoods and cities where they're located. Portland's development ideology is predicated on the idea that it's good to mix apartments into neighborhoods, which is why we call them "infill bunkers."

The other types of developments you folks are bringing up are created by bulldozing dozens of city blocks. Now that I think about it, we do have something similar, if a bit more pretty and upscale, in Portland - those big old white condo/apartment towers west of PSU: http://goo.gl/maps/qWJNq

Anyway, that type of urban planning is a product of the philosophy of French architect Le Corbusier ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Corbusier#Influence ). Near everybody in Portland's planning community is an acolyte of Jane Jacobs, the amateur urban planner who rose to prominence criticizing this very type of development.

What they're doing here is really quite different in all but superficial ways.

(That should be EAST of PSU)

Clinamen, it seems to me that anytime federal money is involved, something more is involved -- growing the government so the people who administer the programs can 1. Remain employed, 2. Engage in a bit of empire building, 3. Feel important when lobbiests come calling, 4. They believe in creating a population dependent upon the state because they fancy themselves smarter than the average person and like to have the control and power over others. As long as one is part of the system, the system doesn't look so bad. The first rule of beaurocracies, just like every other living thing, is growth and survival.

Zach, your points about Jane Jacobs miss an important point. Jacobs' organic approach to city development might indeed include apartments mixed in with single-family homes, but the apartments would be paid for by the developers not the city's taxpayers. What we have here is a development heavily subsidized by Portland taxpayers through an urban renewal program. It is this top-down approach that makes this building much more Soviet than Jacobsian.

Wraps come off Christo building in Lents

Not only should wraps come off the building.

In the subsidization housing arena, all wraps of information need to be opened and become apparent for all to see. The community needs to have a dialogue about publicly subsidized housing, workforce housing another term being used recently. Difficult to have a dialogue if details are kept under wraps. Of course in my experience difficult to have a dialogue period of important matters with our city. A three minute testimony allowed in a city hall meeting is not dialogue.

Alice, you're insulting the suffering that the Soviet people suffered at the hands of their brutal leaders. Whatever the problems are with Portland-style development - and there are plenty of problems - they aren't on the same planet as Soviet policies. Our idiots at city hall are of a different species.

And even if that weren't true, funding and management do not define any urban planning philosophy.

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