Monday, November 19, 2012

Looking through a window of a storefront


On the corner of SW 6th Avenue and SW Salmon, there used to be a Nike store in the A. E. Doyle building known as The Public Service Building. At some point in the recent past, Nike moved to another location, then the windows were covered, followed by a complete gutting of the interior space.

As I walked by Friday night, on my way to catch a MAX Yellow Line to the Rose Garden Arena for a Trail Blazers' game, I stopped to look through the now uncovered windows, just to see what I could see. Completely through the building to the parking garage exit, it seems. I'm not sure where the woman came from, but her movement drew my eye from the concrete pillars and the chance to see the innards of a Doyle building. I watched as she walked across the pavement, turned to face my direction and stepped back out of the way to wait.

In moments she had her phone in her hand, possibly texting her ride to let her know that she had arrived at their agreed upon point. I'll never know for sure.

Info from Wikipedia about the building:

The Public Service Building is a historic 67.06 m (220.0 ft), 15-story office building in downtown Portland, Oregon, United states. The building and its attached parking garage have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Public Service Building and Garage since 1996. It was built to house the offices of the Portland Gas and Coke Company and the Pacific Light and Power Company. The building's name reflects the fact that these utilities were "public services."A space in the Public Service Building fronting the corner of Salmon and Sixth streets became the first Niketown store.

Structural details

The north and south wings of the building were originally two stories tall, but were built up to their present height of 12 stories in 1957. Considered a skyscraper, once complete, the Public Service Building became the tallest building in Portland, holding that record until the 1960s. It was overtaken by the Hilton Portland Hotel in August 1962 when that building reached 229 feet (70 m).

The main power plant for the city was once located in the basement. The space is now used to house the city's main power feeds.

Architectural details

The Public Service Building was the third of three similarly Italianate buildings built in Portland by the firm of prolific local architect A.E. Doyle. The project's primary designer, Charles K. Greene, worked on the other Italianate Doyle-commissioned buildings in Portland: the smaller Bank of California Building (1924) and the Pacific Building (1926).[5] Green initiated the design of this structure, but left Portland before the building was complete. Pietro Belluschi then completed the project.

The first three floors of the Public Service Building are faced with gray terra-cotta, and the upper floors in gray brick. The cornices and details are also terra-cotta. The building has a stylized wave motif that can be seen along its moldings. The original roof, like its sister buildings, was clad in red clay tile. Pietro Belluschi's touch can be seen in the building lobby, where he designed elevator doors that represented the utility company tenants.

Taking advantage of its being the tallest building in town, the utility companies added neon signs atop the roof: "POWER," "HEAT," "GAS," and "LIGHT," each aimed in a cardinal direction. At some point all four sides of this sign said "PACIFIC POWER."

A.E. Doyle died in January 1928, only three weeks after the Public Service Building opened.


Renovations to the Public Service Building took place in 1957, 1973, and 1999. The 1957 renovation raised the height of the building's wings to 12 floors. In 1973, the neon signs and original roofs were removed, and a new metal roof installed. The 1999 renovations focused on reducing energy costs with new technology, costing around US$20 million. The building was sold in 1993 to the Goodman Family, also owners of parking garages and lots in Portland, for US$3 million.

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