Tear down on Alameda Ridge

We know that change is our constant companion, and we believe that change and design diversity can be invigorating and even inspiring in the right context and range. But that doesn’t mean we don’t regret seeing a time traveler removed from its prominent spot on the Alameda Ridge.

5-24-15 Alameda Ridge 2

2122 NE Alameda, May 24, 2015.

This week, wrecking crews demolished the lifetime home of the late Maryon Lewis Kinsey at 2122 NE Alameda. You’ve seen it: a blue blend of Cape Cod and English Cottage, just before you turn down the hill on NE 21st. Maybe you’ve read our post about Maryon, which you can find here. We recommend it: a short read to understand what it was like to grow up in Alameda.

Here’s what the house looked like when it was built and put on the market in 1928.

726 The Alameda

It’s an advertisement from a 1928 edition of The Oregonian that attracted Maryon Lewis Kinsey’s parents, who bought the house brand new to raise their family in, and the house where Maryon and her husband Lloyd raised their family until her death in 2013.

Here’s a picture of the house, with Maryon on the steps, from our visit there a few years back:


We know the house and its foundation had serious structural problems, and that the current owners have reportedly wrestled with the idea of taking it all the way down. We appreciate that. We’ve struggled ourselves with the economics of restoration vs. new construction. Of course, we always lean toward restoration and are always ready to make the case for conserving the historic fabric. But not everyone does.

Now that the original house is gone, the really hard part for us has to do with the plans for its replacement. Here’s the rendering:

2122 NE Alameda New

The new and improved 2122 NE Alameda, from a news story that ran in the Portland Chronicle on May 10, 2015.

Not sure what exactly to say about this. The beautiful brick tudor style house immediately to the east (built 1932) and the Colonial to the west (built 1928)–and all of the 1920s-era houses up and down the Alameda Ridge–will have some adjusting to do.

There’s been an active discussion about the demo and the reconstruction plan on the Nextdoor website, which is a social media conversation place for the neighborhood. Roughly speaking, the comments are running against the design, but some neighbors (we bet not the exact next door neighbors) are endorsing the design.

What do you think?


5-24-15 Alameda Ridge 1


6 responses

  1. It may be because my father was a Portland architect, but I love the design of this new home, especially because it doesn’t really fit (yet) in to our (yawn) comfortable old neighborhood designs. This is a sophisticated building with a geometrically imaginative style that proclaims 21st century!

    No doubt the layout is much more conducive to today’s electronically dominated lifestyles which is why new homes will continue to replace old ones. Change is unstoppable. I welcome this exciting new addition to the ridge.

  2. Hideous and completely out of place. Exactly whom can we contact at the city who is rubber-stamping all these tear downs?

  3. Whoops!

    People move in this (and other) areas for its old homes and the character of the neighborhood. The architects seem to have no concern for that, and I’ll bet if they polled the neighbors, they’d find most don’t want a George Jetson wedge next to their fine, stately Tudor, Traditional, Cape Cod or Colonial.

    A fine new home, possessing old world character and historically correct can be built, with modern amenities and floor plans. And raise the value (monetarily and aesthetically) of the block. I’ve got no problems with wedges and moderns — but there is a place for them.

    This is akin to graffiti, marring the landscape; where the graffiti ‘artist’ then leaves the area, knowing he has made his mark. But graffiti can be removed. This mark will last a century or more.

    People will be walking and driving by for years, scratching their heads; either laughing or gasping in amazement. I think few will be applauding this Alameda house. No ‘Bravos’ from me.

  4. Cool looking house — for another neighborhood. It just doesn’t belong on that block in this neighborhood, where it will stand out like a broken tooth.

    I’ve seen lots of comments on social media about how well-built the house is going to be, how it won’t be very big, and that the owners are very nice people. I am sure that is all true, but those things are beside the point. All I know is that I will pass that house at least twice a day and I don’t think I will ever get used to it. I’m just hoping they plant a big tree in the parking strip. Better yet, bamboo.

  5. I think we should be suspicious of any architecture which claims to take its character from our electronically dominated lifestyles. In my travels, I have found electronically dominated lifestyles existing in the most unusually traditional places. Electronically dominated lifestyles do not require thoughtless and insensitive, or frankly self-centered, architecture.

    And, as an architect, I find myself puzzled by the tautological argument that architecture must express the moment – any moment. I am reminded of the words of writer and philosopher Alain de Botton, who tells us:

    “The great modern houses are happy to admit to their youth and honestly to benefit from the advances of contemporary materials, but they also know how to respond to the appealing themes of their ancestry and can thereby heal the traumas generated by an era of brutally rapid change. Without patronizing the history they profess to love, they show us how we, too, might carry the valuable parts of the past and the local into a restless global future.”

    The proposed house is just bad work, and should not be constructed.

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