Portland Public Service Building
Photograph by Jeff Durbin
Constructed in 1982, the 15-story Portland Public Service Building in downtown Portland, Oregon, is one of the most notable works by internationally-known master architect Michael Graves. The Portland Building itself is a significant as one of a handful of high-profile building designs that defined the aesthetic of Post-Modern Classicism in the United States between the mid-1960s and the 1980s. In the 1960s avant-garde thinkers and architects began to question Modernism and its steel and glass structures stripped of ornament and historic reference. Post-Modernists sought to “humanize” modern architecture by relating buildings to their larger physical and social context, re-establishing the use of traditional classical or vernacular decoration, and endowing their design with symbolic meanings. Initially, when Michael Graves submitted his design for a new city office building to the City of Portland, his vision, using traditional elements, had its proponents and detractors, and after some alterations to his original design, Graves’s design was unanimously accepted by the City Council in the spring of 1980.The Portland Public Service Building is widely credited as the design that established Grave’s preeminence in the field.
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