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The execution seems key to the project having achieved the charming quality it possesses. A little information on those that constructed this finely and uniquely detailed assembly would be appreciated.
In the years I oversaw Portland preservation functions, there was no building I so consistently received inquiries about than this one. Once or twice a year, an inquiry would come in, most wondering if there wasn't some way to preserve and protect it. The building's been empty for decades. The great mystery for me has always been not what it was or whether it could be preserved, but why the company allowed it to remain for so long. As this chapter winds out, I think that'd be another worthy story unto itself. Jeff Joslin
It's been a stunning shift for me to move from Portland to San Francisco, the latter being a place where the street presence of the homeless is much more present and diffuse. There are two things that are quite different here. There's generally a higher tolerance for the "unsightliness" of itinerants. It's more understood and accepted here that it's symptomatic of a human failure, not a bureaucratic one. That's helped keep the issue under constant discussion, with remedies actively and publicly supported. Funding for real remedies continues to amplify here, including mandatory provision of affordable housing (whether off-site or on) for nearly all residential projects. While Oregon's statutes preclude this as a mandatory requirement, there are other related mechanisms that could be developed, were the culture more inclined to consciously and effectively begin to address this inscrutable problem. But it begins with acknowledgement and empathy. Your article contributes to forwarding those critical attributes. Jeff Joslin Director of Current Planning San Francisco
The building at Couch park did not "somehow get pushed through". It was a challenging process for all, given the scale of the project and sensitivities around the park. The design advanced incrementally through the process, adapting and evolving in response to neighborhood, staff, and Commission concerns. As these projects are now approved, the intimation that the projects will be cheapened seems unfounded. I have not tracked the project, but the Commission and staff are extremely detail-oriented: those elements that concern has been expressed about I suspect to be fully embedded in the approved drawings. But to those in the neighborhood concerned about such elements, I'd suggest, rather than jabbing at SERA for a project you appear to like, that you scrutinize and testify to ensure theses elements are indeed fully and appropriately memorialized in such decisions. The implication that there's a connection between that earlier project/decision, Peter Meijer's one-time (many years earlier) employment, the nature of his role in decision-making, and his resignation from the Commission is entirely mis-placed. He consistently advocated and voted from his passionate and sophisticated preservation sensibility. That disclosure issue was problematic throughout the state for citizen-contributors who felt the disclosure information to be inappropriately and unnecessarily invasive. Some refused to provide the demanded information, daring the state to come after them or their respective municipalities, others resigned on principle. This was a demonstration of Peter's integrity (there are many), not the implied opposite. Jeff Joslin
As the former chief administrator of this process and Commission, I disagree with the Landmarks Commission's determination on their purview regarding this interior. The Portland Zoning Code does not require the interior to have a local landmark status or to be specifically/independently designated. It simply states the following is subject to review: "Alteration of an interior space when that interior space is designated as a Historic Landmark." There are few National Register landmark nominations that speak so specifically about the intrinsic relationship of the Coliseum's transparency and the connection between the bowl and the exterior of the landmark. It is this document that defines those elements intended to be protected by the designation. This is a unique circumstance, and I believe the Commission could, and should, have extend its authority accordingly. There's still an opportunity for those concerned about this matter to push on that point, and work to ensure the future improvements visible through the skin be subject to review. I'm hopeful they'll do so, in order to ensure the integrity of this essential aspect of the Coliseum is appropriately protected. Regardless, there will be State Historic Preservation Office and National Parks Service purview over those changes, which provides additional procedural avenues through which protective concerns can be raised and addressed. Jeff Joslin
I consider this hugely precedental. I recall wandering Chicago with a former Planning Director, opining on the multi-generational problem we'd created with the construction of these inherently volumetrically inefficient (high skin-to-volume ratio) glazed structures, depleting available energy to compensate for these hugely consumptive objects/facades. He asked if I was opposed to high rise. I stated they were not my first choice, but that they would not linger far into the future of increasing resource scarcity. I suggested that they'd either become economically un-occupiable, or receive dramatically advanced new shells within our generation. He looked at me like I was out of my mind. But I still stick to those guns, and consider this a bellwether project. I'm hopeful that post-re-occupancy energy analysis will result, prompting the furthering of such re-tooling in cities across the globe - particularly those with less temperate climates - in the future. I do share some of the earlier-expressed concerns about the deployment of high-embodied-energy aluminum as the tempering armature, but take comfort in: the design quality, life-cycle costing - and recyclability of that material choice. Jeff Joslin
This is a brilliant activistic strategy employed by Sierra Club and others to exploit the proximity of the largest social media company and its massively consumptive servers to this particular plant and form of generation. While a little abstract (the entire system still relies on a not-so-smart-grid, and all the inefficiencies and plethora of sources that feed it), it's a great platform for spotlighting the bigger issue, which is the myth of the ether being communication without consequence. Paperless communication, for example, may not be the most efficient if the paper would be recycled, and the data-intensive communication relies on connections via servers across the continent or the planet and back. Servers currently inhale 1.5% of our total energy production, growing at rates of 10-20% per year. We need to become as conscious of this form of consumption and it's environmental impact as we've become of transportation and building efficiencies, etceteras. Jeff Joslin
I particularly appreciate the comments from Public Citizen. The reason nuclear has gained traction in recent years is because the climate change has been portrayed and understood as solving for only one variable: carbon. Nuclear is - plain and simple - the most inefficient means of power generation ever devised. Enormous quantities of waste heat are produced and released (thus the cooling towers and ocean-fed heat exchangers to return heat to what the industry used to refer to as "the ultimate heat sink", the ocean. Additionally, the nuclear industry would never have bloomed here were it not for liability limitations created by Congress of $250 milllion via the Price Anderson Act, which looked like lot of money in its day but remains the maximum. It's like requiring car liability insurance equal to a tenth the value of the car itself. Finally: there is no storage plan. Yucca Mountain is a $10 billion failed science experiment which has been shut down for it's political, geologic, and hydrologic inefficacy. Japan is a tragedy, but I can't help but be slightly grateful for the scale of catastrophe necessary to rec=alibrate the national nuclear discussion and trajectory. Jeff Joslin
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Mar 28, 2011