Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Office Building by Pietro Belluschi Demolished Today? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

A commenter reports that the mid-century modern medical clinic at 13th and Center designed by Pietro Belluschi was demolished today.

Medical Clinic Designed by Pietro Belluschi at 13th and Center
Anyone else gone by the site and can give additional confirmation on this?

Another reader pointed out by email that a broker's website lists it for sale as "land."  So demolition looks all too possible.

The Coldwell Banker listing is for "land" and not a building
While the building is "minor" Belluschi, about him the Oregon Encyclopedia says:
Pietro Belluschi of Portland was an internationally known architect and a key innovator in the development of an elegant modernism, especially in residences suited to the materials and climate of the Pacific Northwest. His work won him widespread admiration and resulted in his appointment as dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology....During the second half of the twentieth century, Belluschi was a major architectural visionary in Oregon and the United States. He was admired for his use of fine craftsmanship and careful detailing, his response to regional conditions, and his preference for classical clarity of form.
He was a big deal. Preservation of the building might not have been possible, but that its demolition would occasion no debate and happen in silence in Salem would be a travesty. 

If true, where's the Historic Landmarks Commission when you need them?!  How is it possible to get a demolition permit without raising flags?  WTF!  Geez.

Here is the best list I have of Salem buildings he designed (#7 now gone, and #6 looks to follow in the State Hospital redevelopment):

1. Willamette University Library/ Smullin Hall, 900 State St., 1938
2. Willamette University Science Building, 1941
3. Willamette University Baxter Complex, 1943
4. Willamette University Doney Hall, 1948

5. Oregon Statesman Printing Plant, 280 Church St. NE, 1944
6. Oregon State Hospital, Breitenbush Hall, 2600 Center St. NE, 1945-50
7. Clinic for Clark Campbell and Wulf, 1280 Center St. NE, 1948
8. First National Bank of Portland, 280 Liberty St. NE, 1947
9. YWCA Building, 768 State St., 1946-52
10. Marion County Courthouse, 100 High St. NE, 1950

Drink a toast tonight, friends. Raise your glass to Pietro Belluschi.

Update later Tuesday evening

A demolition permit was issued October 3rd. Here's info on it from the City's Permit Search (can't link directly to the permit unfortunately):

Details on Demolition Permit from City's Permit Search
Timeline on Permit:  August 21st - October 3rd

Update, October 16th

In Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect,
Meredith Clausen dates the clinic to 1946 (p. 415)

Looking west, Thursday the 10th

Looking north towards Safeway, Monday the 14th


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with info on demolition permit

Anonymous said...

Confirmed. I ride by there every day and noticed it was gone yesterday. I was just pointing out the fence to my wife over the weekend and was curious what was happening.

Jim Scheppke said...

Bummer. Belluschi was probably Oregon's greatest architect. That was a nice building. Yes, for it to come down with no public notice or debate (thanks SJ) is unforgivable.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

More background:

If a building's not on this list and therefore not identified as an "historic resource," and this building wasn't on the list, an application for a demolition permit speeds through the system, and no public comment or notification is necessary.

On the other hand, if a property is on the list, then SRC 230.090 mandates a process and a whole bunch of stuff.

The RFP for adaptive reuse that the Hospital issued for Howard Hall at the Blind School is an example of the kind of thing this process requires. An eventual application for demolition here will also end in a hearing before the Historic Landmarks Commission and would require their approval.

So it is not difficult to see why an owner might not necessarily trumpet that a building is significant in one way or another.

This appears to be a sad oversight on multiple levels.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Some readers have asked about a more secure citation for the building's design. Here you go!

Updated with clip from Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect (1999).

Apparently the clinic was featured in Architectural Forum, July 1948.

Julie Yamaka said...

Your list of Salem buildings designed by Belluschi doesn't include the phone company building on State Street next to the YWCA building he designed. Didn't he design that building too?

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(See longer reply here, and note on phone company building here.)