Again Malcolm Millais, of Portugal, author of Exploding the Myths of Modern Architecture (2009), has sent me an uplifting essay, this time from Atlantic Cities, the urban blog, or section, of The Atlantic magazine. The essay, “Should Portland Save a Building it Really, Really Hates,” by Mark Byrnes, lives up to its snazzy headline.
What would have happened if this postmodernist building had never been built? Would another one like it have been built? Or might the postmodernist critique of modernism have forced more architects onto the road to contemporary classicism? Alas, the Portland Building (1982) was a beacon for those who disagreed with modernism and yet shuddered at the obvious idea of returning to the tried and true traditions hammered by modernism 30 or 40 years before. Yes, you can reject ugliness and stupidity without necessarily having to embrace beauty and humanity! Thank you, Portland Building. Thank you, Michael Graves. You deserve this essay.
I don’t “hate” even the most disgusting modernist buildings, but it lifts my heart to read that almost an entire city’s population can be strong where I am weak. But I do hate modern architecture in general. Now that I’ve gotten all this off my chest, read the essay itself.
Do it, Portland. Tear that building down. Leave Portlandia there to memorialize a good deed too long in coming. Modernism has tried, with considerable success, to heave classicism down the memory hole. Turnabout is fair play.