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Three projects show Portland's unique struggles in getting meaningful buildings built.

COURTESY: TMT  - Park Avenue West finally got built after being interrupted by the Great Recession. Here seen in 2016.

Park Avenue West Tower

750 S.W. Ninth Ave., Portland

For half a decade, the block where Park Avenue West now sits was a hole in the ground. Rusted rebar and muddy pools were a constant reminder of financing drying up in the Great Recession. Originally set for a 2010 opening, work was suspended in 2009. This project by Tom Moyer's TMT Development became known as Tom's Ruins, in an echo of Henry Villard's Villard's Ruins, when the Portland Hotel was halted by the Panic of 1884. It's classic Portland in that the developer traded the space that became Director Park to exceed the height limit. With the financing restored in 2011, work resumed in 2013 and the 30-story building opened in 2016. Law firm Stoel Rives is the primary tenant with 11 floors. It symbolizes the struggle that places such as the Ritz Carlton will have when they open next door to Target, of a Class-A client trying to activate traditionally dull downtown Portland. At street level it's not exciting, with storefronts for Pendleton and Charles Schwab. But the views are fabulous. And it's proof that whether you like Portland's financial climate or not, wait five years and it will change.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Fair-Haired Dumbbell at 11 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. was partially financed by crowdfunding, which helped attract attention.

The Fair-Haired Dumbbell

11 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland

Looking like a 3-D version of a logo wall from an awards show, or perhaps a Louis Vuitton handbag guest-edited by Takashi Murakami, the boxy little office building at the east end of the Burnside Bridge shows Portland can still be wacky in design and creative in financing. Federal rules changed in 2012 to allow crowdfunding that yields a slice of company ownership, not just a gift. Kevin Cavenaugh's Guerilla Development embraced that change, making one-tenth of the budget open to the sub-million-dollar investor class. As he told Oregon Public Broadcasting, "These are the deals that typically take place on the 17th fairway of a country club golf course." Even if the design sticks in your craw as you sail past on MLK, you have to appreciate that the Dumbbell is sticking it to the man. And there's more: Guerrilla also built the Zipper, with lenticular siding, on Sandy Boulevard, and the Tree Farm, opening in February 2020, which has 56 live trees in giant silver pots on the outside, at the east end of the Morrison Bridge. Keep Portland weird.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - The Knight Cancer Research Building at OHSU, financed by both the tax payer and donations.

OHSU Knight Cancer Research Building

2720 S.W. Moody Ave., Portland

Oregon Health and Science University made a push into cancer research. It put the breakthroughs of Dr. Paul Druker in fighting leukemia front and center as a way of raising money from private donors as well as from the Oregon taxpayer.

Opened in September 2018, it has simple mission: "ending cancer as we know it."

The 320,000-square-foot building's design is supposed to facilitate interactions between scientists, in the hope that conversations will stimulate great ideas. Corner offices have been turned into meeting rooms with a view, and bosses work in the trenches (cubes) with their junior colleagues.

The Oregon State Legislature provided $160 million of the total $190 million in funding for the seven-floor facility, with the remaining $30 million coming from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, issued a $1 billion fundraising challenge to OHSU, completed after just 22 months.


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