PORTLAND, Ore. -- A major reconstruction project of the iconic Portland Building started Monday.
The work is expected to last until the end of 2020 on the $195 million project.
The postmodern Portland Building designed by noted architect Michael Graves opened in 1982. In 1985, the Portlandia statue was installed above the front entrance. In 2011 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Graves himself returned to Portland in 2014 to make an impassioned plea to save the building, which some city officials wanted demolished.
"I came here with this idea that we could have a building with symbolism in it, that had color, and that had retail at the base," he told architecture writer Brian Libby. "And it wasn't a glass box. America had grown tired of that, and it was ripe for a change."
The project includes a redo of the outside of the building that will protect it from the weather while respecting the historical significance of the original design, city officials said.
“This building opened in 1982, and the first attempt to fix the building and its leaks was just 6 years later,” said city spokesperson Jen Clodius. So in 35 years, there have been multiple attempts to fix the building, and this is going to be a hopefully ‘once and done!’”
Crews will modernize the building’s operating systems and better protect it against an earthquake. Covered scaffolding will protect the Portlandia statue during construction.
There will be covered walkways on Southwest Madison and Main streets during construction. Some parking spots will be lost.