Portland Japanese Garden
An expansion at the Portland Japanese Garden was recently designed by world renowned architect Kengo Kuma. The buildings include several publicly-accessible spaces (including a cafe that dramatically cantilevers over a gully) and form a large courtyard preceding the entrance into the historic gardens—which are also very beautiful and well worth a visit. The Garden also has excellent art programming, including a beautiful gallery space in a traditional Japanese building within the gardens themselves—see their website for current shows and events.
Aerial Tram
The aerial tram connects OSHU's (Oregon Health and Science University) hilltop location to a new urban district on the banks of the Willamette River called the South Waterfront. You can ride the tram and check out the design of the tram cars themselves, the architecture of the stations and enjoy phenomenal views of the City's skyline to the north and Cascade mountains to the east. The tram car and stations were designed by AGPS Architects, which is based—somewhat appropriately—in Zurich and Los Angeles.
Location / Hours / Fare
Learn more about the design​​​​​​​
Mount Angel Abbey Library
Mount Angel Abbey Library is one of just two buildings in the United States designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Like many of his libraries, this one includes a phenomenal building section that bathes the spaces in light, even in the Pacific Northwest's cloudy winters. It's also filled with Aalto-designed furniture, light fixtures and even curtains. The building is located about an hour South of Portland and is part of a quiet monastery that sits on a hilltop with scenic views of the surrounding countryside. 
Union Way
Union Way is a modern shopping arcade carved out of historic warehouse buildings. Lever Architecture has developed an expertise in working with mass timber—this is one of the few projects by them with public access and features cool, unique shops that create a link between the Ace Hotel and Powell's Books.
Maryhill Overlook
Allied Works is probably Portland's best known contemporary architecture firm. As with a number of Portland architecture practices that were founded by University of Oregon alums—their work is connected to Louis Kahn by way of several professors who worked/studied with Kahn and then impacted the pedagogy at the school. One of my favorite projects by Allied Works is also one of their first. Maryhill Overlook is a site-specific installation about two hours outside of Portland on the eastern edge of the Columbia River Gorge. The simple concrete forms create a variety of beautiful spatial conditions and framed views. The DNA of their museums and cultural projects seems to trace back to this early study in light, form and materiality. The installation is located on the grounds of the Maryhill Museum of Art and is free to enter. The Museum itself has a fascinating story and an unusually large collection of Rodins considering its remote location. And for another great Allied Works building, if you know someone who works at Wieden and Kennedy, I highly recommend trying to get a tour! 
The Gordon House
The Gordon House is Frank Lloyd Wright's only building in Oregon. It is one of the last Usonian houses built and is located about an hour south of Portland on the grounds of the Oregon Garden (where you can also find a monumental sculpture by Lee Kelly). It's located near Mt. Angel Abbey, making it easy to see Aalto and Wright in the same trip. Also available for overnight stays—see below for info.
For overnight stays, email or call 503-874-6006
Photos: The Gordon House
Pietro Belluschi and Northwest Modernism
Pietro Belluschi is sort of the "godfather" of Portland architecture. His career bridged classical architecture with modernism and his work influenced many contemporary Portland architects. Belluschi practiced architecture from the 1920's through the 1980's, served as dean of the MIT School of Architecture and worked on projects across the country at a variety of scales. Interestingly enough, his most critically acclaimed work consists of simple single family houses and modest churches—which were part of a larger Northwest regional modernism movement that also included other Portland architects John Yeon, John Storrs, Van Evera Bailey and Saul Zaik (as well as architecture in Seattle and Vancouver, BC). Unfortunately, the single family house projects by these architects are all privately owned (though occasionally open for tours). For visitors looking to see some of this work, that leaves the churches. To see the evolution of Belluschi's work, I recommend visiting these three in this order: St. Thomas More, Zion Lutheran Church and Chapel of Christ the Teacher at the University of Portland (check out the beautiful carved doors by artist Leroy Setziol–Belluschi often worked with artisans for special building features). All three are classic examples of regional modernism and generally open to the public. Also of note, is the Portland Art Museum—designed early in his career and a great example of early modernism—and a good place to spend a few hours.
See more by Pietro Belluschi: Equitable Building / Portland Art Museum
Photos: Zion Lutheran Church and University of Portland
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