Thursday, January 28, 2010

I love Pietro Belluschi's Equitable Building

On Saturday, Jan. 9, after a Tour Guide Committee meeting at the PCPA, I roamed SW 6th with two things in mind. Find A. E. Doyle buildings and find Belluschi's building. First for you, Belluschi's building.

How many times have I walked by this building, on SW Washington at SW 6th Avenue? For most of the last three years, five days a week after work. Rushing from one bus to make the connection to another one, I never realized I had been that close to such an outstanding example of architecture, right here in Portland. I had seen photos of it, but those were taken when it stood tall alone.

Cold, blustery, those two words described the afternoon for the most part. If the sun hadn't struggled to shine now and then, I would have boarded a bus home and given up my quest.

Taken on SW 6th Avenue, looking southwest towards an amazing looking building in downtown Portland.

This isn't the corner I walked by all those times, but I love how the color of the glass shows in this photo.

From Wikipedia:
The Commonwealth Building is a 13-story commercial office tower in Portland, Oregon, United States, located at 421 SW 6th Avenue between Washington and Stark Streets. Designed by architect Pietro Belluschi, it was built between 1944 and 1948 and was originally known as the Equitable Building. It is noted as one of the first glass box towers ever built, pioneering many modern features and predating the more famous Lever House in Manhattan.

The building, which was built as the headquarters in Portland of the Equitable Savings and Loan Association, was originally intended to be 12 stories high but was expanded to 13. It is constructed of sea-green glass and was the first to be sheathed in aluminum. It was also the first to use double-glazed window panels, and was the first to be completely sealed and fully air-conditioned.

The Commonwealth Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places (as the Equitable Building) in 1976.

In 1980, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) designated the Commonwealth Building as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The ASME History & Heritage Committee bestowed this landmark status for the specific feature: the first large commercial building in the United States to pioneer the use of heat pumps for heating and cooling.

Taken on SW 6th Avenue, looking northwest at the Equitable Building, now known as the Commonwealth Building. This is the corner I walked by so many times, noticing the businesses but not the building.

Consumed with the desire to be artsy, I walked to the sharp corner of the building, the brown column between the green umbrellas, and took this photo.

I found these two images on the Internet--they show the Equitable Building in the late 1940s.


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