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Jay Raskin
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I have admired this building for years and I agree that it is sad that we are not preserving our industrial heritage that such buildings represent. Interestingly,this building also represents problems associated with what is now called the Critical Infrastructure Energy Hub. It is the immediate zone that stretches along the Willamette River that contains not only NW Natural, but fuel oil, and electrical transmission lines, along with the petrochemical facilities. All of this built on alluvial soils and aging infrastructure. It would be nice to imagine us reclaiming this land for the use of people. Right now, this area gives Portland's Bureau of Emergency Management nightmares of what could happen in a large earthquake with the mix of chemicals,fuel, and natural gas. All of this close to a the population of Linnton who would be trapped between this and Forest Park (itself a fire danger if the event happens in the summer). The Oregon Resilience Plan identified this as one of the key risk areas in a Cascadia earthquake since the loss 95% of Oregon's fuel oil store there would impede both relief and recovery efforts. The idea that we could reclaim this for the use people seems unlikely at this point. But maybe it is what we need to start rethinking where this hodgepodge of energy infrastructure and petrochemicals should be located. We are going to need to strengthen them to withstand an earthquake. Maybe we can spread them to multiple sites to get redundancy, and see if investments in alternative energy sources might look more attractive given the cost of upgrading these systems. Big plans might give bigger results. Whether this will save the Portland Gas & Coke Building is doubtful, but maybe it can lead to a greater awareness and discussion of this largely ignored area of Portland and Oregon.
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May 24, 2013