Keywords Change this

Modernism, Foma

Project timeline

1959 – 1960


Congress & Exhibition

Location Change this

Portland, Oregon

Architect Change this


Article last edited by Bostjan on
February 05th, 2021

Veterans Memorial Coliseum Change this

Portland, Oregon, USA
by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Change this

Filigree pavilion resting on an elevated plinth.

1 of 3

Description Change this

Located in Portland, Oregon, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum directly expresses SOM’s conviction that successful architecture depends on the balanced union of art and engineering. The design team, led by Myron Goldsmith, used a grid of reinforced concrete columns and cantilevered steel trusses to form a square building, 360 feet wide on each side. Unlike most arenas, SOM wrapped the building in modular 3.5-foot by 9-foot glass panels, flooding the interior with natural light.

Composed of gray-tinted glass, the glass walls are capped at the top of the building by a white strip of acrylic overlaid on plywood fascia. To cover the 80,000 square feet of windows, SOM designed a special blackout curtain which, at the time of its installation, was the largest continuous curtain in the United States. When it opened in 1960, the building was also the only glass-walled International Style stadium in the Pacific Northwest.

Inside, terraced seating wraps the arena in an oval bowl made of free-standing concrete. From outside the building, a viewer can see the bowl’s curved form through the grid of windows. The elegant contrast between fluid and rectangular shapes gives the coliseum its unique sense of equilibrium. The coliseum is listed on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation has declared it a National Treasure.



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