Sustainable and iconic cities emerge from the interplay between what is preserved and what is new. By exploring strategies to recontextualize and update programming, this proposed historic revitalization breathes new life into a masterpiece of 20th century architecture, and contributes to Portland’s long running riverfront renaissance.
The project proposes to renovate and upgrade the threatened historic 1960 Veterans Memorial Coliseum. While iconic, the current concrete bowl isn’t able to respond to ADA, seismic concerns, and modern programming demands and flexibility. The design scheme proposes a thickening of the bowl in order to serve these functions and purify the original concept by concealing all columns. The bowl is sheathed in reclaimed Oregon Douglas Fir to highlight it’s shape. Light and form are highlighted through the façade heightening it’s presence in the skyline as well as strengthen it’s relationship to the adjacent Moda Center. The historic berm surrounding the glazed box is carved out to provide enhanced event space and a west facing roof deck. Deliberately utilizing the landscape to minimize the presence of new program within it’s historic context. The extensive roof area is better utilized by deploying an array of PV panels. These modifications connect the coliseum more directly to the river and transit corridors that have evolved over 50 years to isolate it, and renew its cross-river visual impact, part of what made it an icon in its heyday. The project intends to maximize the functionality of the Coliseum, through upgrades including new restrooms and concessions, luxury suites, new ADA compliance, and the installation of a hydraulic floor. This flexible staging shift can accommodate a 200-meter track, concerts of varying sizes, olympic swimming pool, a velodrome, and many other formats. The coliseum becomes a flexible event space, supporting contemporary performance and sport, connecting the city to its past and its future.
Location: Portland, OR
Awards: 2105 AIA Unbuilt Award – Merit Award