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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coliseum Fight Gets International Coverage

Posted by Matt Davis on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Matthew Freedman writes an editorial from London in World Architecture News:

In 1965, along with 20,000 others, Allen Ginsberg saw the Beatles play Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, and then he wrote a poem about it: “the million children / … / become one animal / in the New World Auditorium”.

I didn't know Ginsberg wrote a poem about the place, did you?! Still, Freedman's piece balances the coliseum's historic character with a pragmatism about the likelihood of its destruction.
Of course, there is no inherent reason why a bunch of disparate cultural and historical factors should ensure the preservation of anything. The Beatles played here at the height of their fame; a towering American poet commemorated it in a poem; it’s a significant mid-twentieth century work in the canon of a respected architectural practice; it contains a major war memorial — this is the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, to use its full name. But none of these, even the last, should guarantee automatic survival.

Freedman also compares the likely demolition of the Coliseum to the planned demolition of Slough's early modernist town hall in England. Slough is the setting for the British version of The Office, to give you some idea. "Issues vary hugely from locality to locality, of course," he writes. "Let alone across the vast physical, cultural and sociological distances separating Slough and Portland."

News of the Coliseum fight has also reached the Historic Preservation Magazine, for those keen to catch up on their reading.

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