(originally Portland Visitors' Information Center, a.k.a. McCall's Waterfront
Architect: John Yeon/Wick, Hilgers, & Scott, 1949
The Portland Chamber of Commerce initially requested that John Yeon design a log building to symbolize the city. He didn't listen, instead drawing up a building noteworthy for its pioneering use of plywood. Today, people are sometimes surprised to learn that this modest and somewhat abused structure is an architectural landmark. (It's also the only structure actually inside Waterfront Park itself.)
Yeon used a Japanese-inspired concept of screens for the views into and out of the original building. A strong sense of geometric spaces predominated the design of the structure, and it was groundbreaking, clean, and prominently located. The minimalist building was well thought of in architectural and design circles, and it is one of a handful of Oregon buildings to have been exhibited in New York's MOMA.
* Authors Gideon Bosker and Lena Lencek waxed poetic about the building: "Merely by scanning the polychrome wood skin " and noting the mathematical rhythms of the facade, the visitor could divine the many faces of Portland's civic and economic self image."
But not everyone loved it. The Portland Men's Gardening Club chose to rip out the flora they had agreed to plant around the building as a protest against its design. Nearly razed in 1967, the building housed the Bureau of Architectural Planning before subsequent incarnations as the Portland Facilities Management Building and McCall's Restaurant. (It was during the latter's occupancy that the worst of the interior remodeling occurred.) It is owned by Portland, and city council members have wrestled with issues relating to its occupancy and lease many times.
John Yeon never received formal architectural training (he attended only one semester at Stanford), but he was one of Portland's most notable architects. He is primarily remembered for his residential works, although only twelve of his designs were ever built. Though Yeon was also a devoted preservationist (the Bank of the West owes its continued existence to his efforts), so many internal remodels were wrought upon the Visitor's Center, Yeon requested that the building be torn down.Less Text