Wednesday, May 2, 2007

"It's had a dumpster in front of it for the past 15 years."

Almost anything would be better than what's currently at 300 S.W. Sixth Ave. - and the hotel project that's planned is shaping up to be much more than just anything.

Transformation of "what some call the ugliest building in Portland," has two distinct pieces -- the hotel, a Courtyard Marriot that hometown architects SERA are designing, and the ground-floor restaurant, which New York firm D-ASH is doing, SERA design principal John Echlin said.

Hotel design's still in its early stages, but what SERA took to the Portland Design Commission for advice April 19 was a plan to replace the existing marble with a lighter skin, probably glass reinforced concrete or thin shell concrete (exactly what it'll look like is a big part of what's still being worked out). And they're looking, Echlin said, at creating much of the building's visual interest with the patterning of that skin.

The restaurant, which will have its own distinct identity, is concieved as more of a glazed outdoor room, with D-ASH's work on the interiors coming through to grab attention from the street.

Commissioners said (to paraphrase) it's about freaking time. In the sage words of commissioner Andrew Jansky, "It's had a dumpster in front of it for the past 15 years."

Commissioners also said that the design needs more work (Jeff Stuhr called it "a little bit banal") but were pretty confident that SERA would get to something cool.

I'm hoping to have more on the project in the DJC soon...

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