Blame it on nostalgia, if you need a reason. Or maybe on the fascination with a historical venue searching for a reason to survive. Whatever the true root, my focus on Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum continues.
I have written about the 1960-opened glass-encased arena in this space previously, quite infrequently compared to my interest.
But as the fate of the venue situated in Portland’s eastside Rose Quarter and next door to the much newer and more oft used Moda Center comes up for discussion yet again, a new slate of nostalgia wafts over the discussion.
The University of Washington Libraries released a rather large set of images from photographer Art Hupy, taken sometime in fall 1961, that show off the original uses of the coliseum, seen from the lens of an artists over 50 years ago.
The photos, part of roughly 40,000 images given to the library, contain plenty of play on light emitting from and near the venue and focus on the lines that architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill fashioned for the arena.
But while we can marvel at the images—as we should—the future of the 3.1-acre venue doesn’t have as clear a focus as Hupy gave us.
The Portland City Council should vote on the future of the 12,000-seat building, which no longer looks as it once did, sometimes this year. Options for the future range from doing pretty much nothing extra with the coliseum to choices on both extreme ends—a complete overhaul or even demolition.
Those in favor of restoring the Coliseum to its original beauty now have a new set of blueprints—Hupy’s images—to work from, showcasing how minimalist landscaping exposes the building’s lines and how original lighting was indeed a masterful use of space.
No matter the future fate of Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, at least take a look at a historic venue in its prime.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.