Last month PSU dismantled one of the few remaining Victorian era houses in the path of their so-called “progress”. Now the City recently issued demolition permits for the apartment buildings at 506-518 SW College. Coming soon will be a 16 story student housing building that will erase the entire block except for the small privately owned house on the Jackson side of the block.
As with the previous demolition of the old System Science building, these buildings are not and never were major examples of a particular architectural style, nor do they (apparently) have any major historical significance, but there are other issues at play here that are being given little or no consideration by the school, and for that matter, the City.
First of all, there are very few buildings in this part of the city that reflect the original flavor of the neighborhood. No one is suggesting to preserve everything, but when there are only a few vintage buildings left, perhaps they should be given some sort of protection as they represent the last vestiges (in this part of town) of early Portland history. When it’s all gone, it’s gone.
Secondly, in this era of such strong focus on sustainability, it is peculiar that PSU – which touts its sustainable efforts ad nauseam – should take the approach of clearing out anything that stands in the path of their expansion. Couldn’t at least the 4-story apartment building at 5th and College be integrated into the new building project? After all the greenest building is the one that is already built, and that apartment building has been there for around 100 years. Such a project would provide a fine example of mixing the old with the new, something that future generations of university students – some who may even be part of PSU’s architecture program – could appreciate.
Metro has been promoting the concept of making use of what we already have. Perhaps it’s time PSU took note of this. All it takes is a little creativity and the will to do what is right to preserve the architectural history of our fine city.