Portland’s Historic Landmarks Commission gives icy reception to planned Apple Retail Store

“Plans for a sleek-looking Apple Computer store in a Northwest Portland historic district received an icy reception on Monday from the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission, whose chairman criticized it as ‘franchise architecture.’ A two-hour hearing over the proposed two-story glass and limestone box at 423 N.W. 23rd Ave. ended without a formal vote when the building’s architect asked to come back at a July 10 meeting,” Fred Leeson reports for The Oregonian. “It wasn’t immediately clear whether Jeff Stuhr, a Portland architect, plans to present revised plans or whether Apple will drop the project. The company does not comment on its retail store plans.”

“Since an advisory meeting with the commission last August, Stuhr added more windows to the design and changed the exterior skin from stainless steel to limestone. Two commission members appeared to reject the whole scheme, while others on the six-member panel suggested more windows and awnings.Apple has opened approximately 130 retail stores around the world in recent years, almost all reflecting modernistic boxy designs with illuminated white Apple signs fitting flush to the exteriors,” Leeson reports. “The proposed Northwest Portland store sits in the Alphabet Historic District of Northwest Portland. It would replace a 1960s-era building that is not considered historic.”

“If Apple decides to press on with the same or a similar modernistic design, a rejection by the landmarks commission could be appealed to the City Council,” Leeson reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan” for the heads up.]

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Related article:
Five foot tall Apple logo sign could be issue for Apple Retail Store in Portland, Oregon – April 13, 2006


  1. Slow news day?
    This happens all the time in every community. Nothing new. How this is news befuddles me.

    BTW, these archetectural decisions are important in order to maintain the look and feel of communities. To build what ever, where ever would result in chaos. (Try playing SimCity without a plan.)

  2. Portland already has enough Apple stores. Three in total: One in downtown and two in Tigard (suburb). Seems like a lot of stores for such a small town. The two in Tigard are only about 5 miles apart. I bet one of them closes down.

    Seattle, which is massive compared to Portland only has 4 total.

  3. “It feels just stuck there,” said Melissa Darby, a commission member, of the proposed design. “It doesn’t feel like it should be there.”

    “It’s a corporate design, sleek and attractive,” said another commissioner, Art DeMuro. “But it has to fit in the setting. It just doesn’t fit.”

    These must be Windows users who think everything should be beige and dull, like their computers.

    Apple runs into this kind of local control freakness frequently. The only power these people have is to say no. Besides, Portland is controlled by real estate developers and contractors who like to manipulate things to their financial advantage with the help of their reps in government. The publicly financed OHSU tram has gone from $14 M to $55 M since it was approved, with the Oregonian acting in a PR capacity. Legalized corruption.

  4. “These must be Windows users who think everything should be beige and dull, like their computers.”

    This has nothing to do with boring, but rather preserving an area classified as historic. What Apple should do is respect the status of the neighborhood and do what they did in SoHo, NYC or Regent Street, London: respect the wishes of the neighborhood and blend in (with a touch of Apple flair, of course). Either that, or they have to find an area that doesn’t have such a strict building code.

    Please note: blending in at SoHo and Regent Street doesn’t appear to have hurt Apple’s foot traffic in either store, has it?

  5. “Besides, Portland is controlled by real estate developers and contractors who like to manipulate things to their financial advantage with the help of their reps in government.”

    I wonder when the rese of the world will discover this?

  6. Ohhhhh

    I’m usually in the camp of the HDLC. Living here in New Orleans, you’d be surprised at the mess modern buildings can make of a neighborhood. Regardless of what anyone says or wants, there ARE ways to make new buildings look old, so they fit in better. I never have understood why that’s a problem for builders in Historic Districts, like New Orleans.

    I’m sure Apple wants it sleek and new, but that usually doesn’t go well with old and elegant.

    Sorry, but without seeing any of the plans, I’d still side with the HDLC.

  7. Apple just needs to tear up the blueprints and replace them with a design that looks more like the surrounding buildings. I know they’d prefer to stand out, but these communities don’t want buildings that draw more attention than their neighbors.

    I remember when I was a kid, McDonalds wanted to put a restaurant in a nearby town of Aurora, OH. Aurora said okay, but no ugly red-and-yellow building and no golden arches. (Tall signs were forbidden on the street.) McDonalds built an attractive wood-faced store with a tasteful 5-foot-high wooden sign in front.

    Just gotta go with the flow.

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