Big Box Coliseum

Portland's Veterans Memorial Coliseum is a mid-century masterpiece that is poised to once again become a symbol of our city’s highest values and aspirations, and to be a centerpiece for a revived center-city district. site

The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the legendary firm behind landmarks such as the Lever House in New York City. It ranks with the greatest works of mid-20th Century modern architecture alongside the works of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen, and Frank Lloyd Wright. page

The genius of the design lies in its simplicity: a concrete bowl inside a glass box. Like a convertible in a world of hard tops, it is the only major arena in the world with a 360-degree panoramic view, here of the Portland skyline and Willamette River. It stands on just four columns, the bowl untouched by the glass curtain wall. images

Few who have attended games and concerts have experienced the interior with the curtain open, resulting in a lessened appreciation of the building. Mature trees now surrounding a good part of the exterior further mask the best attributes of the building.


The building was judged too small to retain the NBA Blazers as a Paul Allen business. The taxpayers agreed to build a new arena with bait-and-switch promises.

I miss watching indoor soccer in comfortable seats with few audience-separation structures between us and field.

I miss rollerblading on the waxed floor of the concession concourse, especially the high-speed pace lines that formed in the adult-only skate after 10pm.