Portland’s most internationally-famed architect, Pietro Belluschi, is widely remembered for the Equitable Savings building he completed in 1948. Its innovative sleek glass and aluminum design is considered the world’s first curtain-wall building that ushered in the International Style of modern skyscrapers.
Less well-known is another Belluschi building also finished in 1948. The 6-story Oregonian Building at 1320 SW Broadway also was a relentlessly modern building designed to meet a new era of mid-century communications, with printing presses, radio studios and a television station. The newspaper bragged about it being “the largest structure built in Oregon in the last 10 years.”
|(Contemporary view, same vantage)|
In the 1970s, the Oregonian switched to a new printing process with presses in a different building. Combining newsroom staffs late in 1982 led to major internal remodels on three floors. When growth of the internet led to implosion of the newspaper business, the Oregonian moved out of the building in 2014 for rental space elsewhere.
|(New canopy, Broadway entrance)|
The new primary tenant is AWS Elemental, an Amazon subsidiary that provides internet services involving digital content production, storage, processing and distribution. In other words, the building continues to be a communications hub of a different kind for the following era. To the preservationist's eye, it is a successful adaptation of a worthy building for new uses.
Ironically, the same month the Oregonian Building opened, June, 1948, Pietro Belluschi was honored as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, one of the nation’s highest awards. It was his 25th year in Portland. His other notable works included the Portland Art Museum, the J.P. Finley & Sons Mortuary (sadly demolished) the Equitable building and renovation of the Union Station train depot.