Powell’s to expand flagship store

Posted in Design, Public Works at 9 pm

It’s about flippin’ time:

The independent bookstore has hired architect Ernest Munch to create a store design that adds at least one floor of retail space at the corner of West Burnside and 10th Avenue, it announced today. Powell’s said the corner could grow by as many as three stories. Demolition of the Green and Blue rooms is tentatively to begin in two years, with plans to reopen that section of the store in November 2010. – BizJournals

Powell’s is going to rip down one of the ugliest parts of Burnside, and more than likely, whatever they put up will be 1000x better than what’s there:

Powell's Books, at sunset, looking NW from the corner of 10th and Burnside, Portland, Oregon, USA
Image courtesy of Oregon.com

The one story-brutalist building that is the front door of what is arguably the most famous retail location in Portland. But it’s ugly like yo’ mamma. It’s ugly like this is where they get the ugly books to learn how to make the ugly sticks! Ever since the similarly designed Henry Weinhards production room was torn down to make room for a new (if not entirely beautiful then at least interesting) tower, this has been one of the travesties of West Burnside. That’s not to say that other building in the area couldn’t use a good leveling… (cough Car Toys cough) but this is Powell’s!

Powell’s did a remarkable job with the opposite corner of their little Kingdom of Books. The 11th and Couch entrance and facade is beautiful, in fact the only real problem with it is that there’s no longer any room around it to enjoy the view. The five story quarter-block was a major upgrade and kept the book store on par with the swanky upturn that the Pearl District was coming out of.

I’m sure that this had to be part of a master plan of some sort. The ‘new’ addition at 11th and Couch added a beautiful check-out counter layout with enough slots to hold down the fort while the real front doors are closed down.

If Powell’s can make a similar advancement and maybe even a better one, then Portland might get a brand new money-shot to put on the postcards. Com’ on guys, get it right!

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