PORTLAND NEEDS WILLAMETTE WEEK.
NOW WILLAMETTE WEEK NEEDS YOU.

The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Portland is the Playground of Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma

Reason no. 9 to love Portland right now.

In October, a new vision of downtown's sleepy RiverPlace neighborhood began drifting through City Hall. The renderings showed eight pagoda-slatted towers rising as high as 400 feet above the waterfront, bristling above cascades of trees. The naturalistic spires seemed to come straight out of both Blade Runner and Avatar, an architectural boldness foreign to our city.

The plan's architect, Kengo Kuma, is one of the most celebrated architects in Japan, the author of 2020's Tokyo Olympic Stadium—an exposed, wood-latticed bird's nest that somehow manages to appear both futuristic and serene, a booming whisper announcing Japan's national identity to the world.

But until last year, he hadn't put up a single project in the United States.

In April 2017, Kuma completed a majestic expansion of Portland's already world-renowned Japanese Garden: a green-roofed "cultural village" at once Escherian in its geometry and gentle in its harmonies, with light shimmering through wooden slats that hang like willow branches from the ceiling.

Since beginning that project, he has made our city an architectural home away from home. Last May, he redesigned chef Naoko Tamura's elegant Shizuku restaurant on Southwest Jefferson Street as an ethereal world of sunlight and undulating bamboo screens. In the Southeast suburb of Happy Valley, the Street of Dreams now contains a house unlike any other near Portland: a light-bathed structure of gently sloping roofs within a moat of patio, bending like an elbow around rolling greenery designed by the Japanese Garden's landscaper. It will be the model for a series of homes just like it.

Building by building, Kuma is helping to reimagine what architecture can be in Portland, both in scale and in elegance. We can't wait.

2. TriMet Could Soon Stop Charging Life-Ruining Fines

3. You Can Now Smoke Weed While Listening to Live Classical Music

4. Oregon's Unemployment Rate is Incredibly Low

5. Your Favorite Sports Team is Only a Short Walk Away

6. The Blazers Star in Some Weird-Ass Commercials

7. We Now Have a Mountain Bike Park in the City

8. 24 hours after Chamber Music Northwest Burned Down, the Last Concert in the Series Went on as Planned

9. Portland is the Playground of Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma

10. You Can Soon Stream Local Music at the Library

11. Oregon Just Became the First State to Defelonize Hard Drugs

12. East Portland is Getting an Aerial Tree Walk

13. We're the World Capital of Canned Wine

14. Portland is a Hotbed of Small Bookstores

15. Unlike any Other City, We Have Multiple Niche Comedy Festivals

16. Our Developers Are Privatizing Socialism

17. The Nation's Best Airport Keeps Getting Even Better

18. We're Home to the World's First Sneaker Design School

19. Portland Scored the World's First Dog Tap Room

20Weed Prices are Falling From Cheap to Damn Near Free, and We Haven't Yet Found the Bottom

21. Our Local Mini-Mart Chain Makes Snickers Give You Free Candy Bars

22. The View From the MAX Orange Line is One of the Most Striking and Beautiful Paintings in the City 

23. We Are Still No. 1 in Semifactual Superlatives

24. We Make Biking So Accessible

25. You Can Crowdfund Anything Here

26. We Find So Many Ways to be Anti-Trump

27. Our Malls Are Becoming Cultural Embassies

28. Our Humane Society Rescues Pets From All Over the Country 

29. Winter This Year is a Pussycat

30. No One Mourns Closures Like We Do