Michael Graves Live: A Conversation About Recent Designs, Change, and the Future of the Portland Building

In a live, on-stage chat with journalist and Yeon Center director Randy Gragg, Graves will explore two topics: 1) his career’s evolution since the Portland Building, and, in particular, since an infection rendered him a papaplegic in 2003 inspiring a turn to designing everything from wheelchairs to housing for disabled veterans; and 2) what of the Portland Building should be preserved and what might change during its upcoming renovation.

Completed in 1981, the Portland Building became an instant icon of the Postmodernist break from the cookie-cutter corporate modernism that had come to dominate architecture, particularly in public buildings. It was successfully listed on the National Historic Register in 2012. Yet built for less than a common commercial office building of the era, the cut-rate budget led to dreary interiors and devastating leaks. After considering several options for the Portland Building—among them demolishing it, the City of Portland will soon solicit proposals from developers, architects and contractors for a remodel.

Few architects might understand the need for adaption better than Graves, now 80, winner of the Presidential Medal of the Arts in 1999 and the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2001. Ignoring what he thought to be a minor sinus problem in 2003, he woke up to find himself paralyzed from the chest down by an infection that had invaded his brain and spine. But soon after, Graves turned to designing different tools and surroundings for those living with disabilities, from the Prime TC, a replacement for the traditional hospital wheelchair, to the “Michael Graves Active Living Collection,” which includes showerheads, collapsible canes, walkers, and bath seats.

The University of Oregon’s John Yeon Center is devoted inspiring rigorous thinking and public dialog about design and conservation through public discussions and with the preservation and programming of the Watzek House, The Shire, and the Cottrell House.

[This event is free for Portland Art Museum members and current students, faculty and staff of the University of Oregon. $10 general admission.]

Popup
Up