Portland’s Famed Powell’s Books May Get A Facelift

The famous bookstore an architect calls Oregon’s second-largest retail attraction, behind the Tillamook Cheese Factory, is in for an artsy facelift – the economy willing, The Daily Journal of Commerce reports.

Portland architect Ernest Munch is designing a three-level building of 28,000 square feet to replace the structure that provides the main entrance to Powell’s Books in downtown Portland’s tony Pearl District.

The bookstore covers a city block containing multiple, connected buildings. Powell’s is going through early design review, but the project could be shelved until the economy turns around, said Miriam Sontz, Powell’s CEO of strategic development.

“We will reconsider the (construction) timing in January and then commit to a date,” she said. “Economic realities are affecting this building.”

Munch’s design envisions a giant cube, 15 to 18 feet, suspended over the awning of the new entrance and displaying art on several sides.

Creating an iconic piece of architecture would be an important way to replace the existing Powell’s sign, Munch said. He said people either love the current sign or think it’s “really ugly.”

Bruce Guenther, chief curator of the Portland Art Museum, told the Portland Design Commission he liked the idea.

The cube, he said, could “celebrate Portland’s identity as a creative and artistic community.” He said Powell’s can be a place where “art and life interact.”

Sontz said the the project would include renovations and interior remodels of the other existing buildings. The new building would have a green roof, designed to capture rainwater to irrigate the roof garden.

“We consider (the current) building as a vanilla wrapper and when you open it you find something delightful,” she said. “This is a more exhibitionist building. As a business, we’re excited about it.”

Residents of the surrounding Pearl District liked the design and “thought it was creative and fun and exuberant,” said Patricia Gardner of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association.


Published by Larry Fire

I write an eclectic pop culture blog called THE FIRE WIRE that features articles about books, comics, music, movies, television, gadgets, posters, toys & more!

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