Riding in a van through the city along with some local architects, reporters and academics, Goldberger commented on the beauty of the city’s South Park blocks and called Old Town‘s historic buildings “wonderful,” according to the editorial.
He also raved about the city’s public transit, active streets and urban feel. But he ewwwed at the Wells Fargo Center and called a surface lot at Fourth and Northwest Davis “terrible.”
The WW editorial notes that Goldberger, a Pulitzer Prize winner (like the Willamette Week) who writes the New Yorker‘s “Sky Line” column, was impressed with Portland’s neighborhoods and urban planning but had little to say about Portland’s buildings.
In Seattle, we spend a lot of time comparing ourselves unfavorably to our smaller, hipper cousin. Portland’s fast and efficient transit is a big one for many. Fans of adaptive reuse look to the Pearl District for great examples of warehouses-turned-condos.
There are also those beautiful bridges, abundant bike routes, and the walkable waterfronts (even if they do overlook a Superfund site). And then there are the movie theaters where you can drink a pint and watch a movie for under $10.
But, as the WW editorial points out, Portland doesn’t have a space needle. It doesn’t have an EMP, a Smith Tower, or much of a skyline at all. It doesn’t have iconic architecture. Does that matter in a city so-well designed in so many other ways?