a.k.a The Glass Palace
Architect: SOM, 1960
"The best building SOM designed during its 25-year
reign as the city's premier firm." Randy Gragg
This Memorial Coliseum has a cube-like purity that grows on a person, particularly once you've gone inside and enjoyed its unparalleled views of the city. Entering the modernist arena (an oval inside a square), one's appreciation is enhanced again. Get a load of those four massive pillars; they support two colossal trusses, and they hold up everything else. The Coliseum's outer wall of mullions and glass is a non-weight-bearing "curtain" wall.
* The greatest moment in Portland sports occurred here on June 5, 1977, when the Trail Blazers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in game six of the NBA Finals. Nearly thirteen thousand fans rushed out of the Memorial Coliseum to join ranks with the rest of the city in a night-long celebration.
Wood was initially considered as the primary building material, but steel was cheaper, so the Coliseum is primarily glass and metal. Still, it's interesting to picture the Coliseum made of lumber; it might redeem its somewhat dated look and less-than-sterling maintenance. Regardless of the look of the building from outside, the view of Portland from inside is sublime; the curtain wall windows look out in all directions in a dramatic fashion.
Consultants looking to breathe life into the moribund Rose Quarter gaze longingly at the four city blocks the Coliseum covers. But this fate seems increasingly unlikely, as the Coliseum continues to host musical and sports events. So for the moment, we can continue to enjoy the counterpoint that the delicately curved rain-cover over the main entrance provides to the Coliseum's straight lines.
* The first show to play at the Memorial Coliseum was Holiday on Ice. The Beatles helped to erase that bad taste five years later, playing to the best-behaved U.S. crowd on their national tour.Less Text