Editor's Note: The Regional Modern series focuses on the regional differences in modern and contemporary architecture, countering the impression that "modern" means universal and placeless. In photo tours from Manhattan to Malibu, see how today's innovative homes are influenced by climate, environment, and culture, becoming both private oases and part of a larger landscape we all share.
It may be easy to argue that what drives architecture and design in Seattle, Washington, is the same in Portland and other areas in Oregon to the south, creating a general Pacific Northwest modern style. There may be some truth in that in regards to climate and landscape, but each metropolitan area is unique in cultural and other aspects. This leads to idiosyncratic if similar modernisms in each region.
Portland is known among those interested in architecture and urbanism for its dense core and varied transportation, a result of strong top-down planning that is forward thinking in its sustainable goals. Here, the greenfield suburbanization of farmland that is the favored practice around the United States is eschewed in favor of preserving a greenbelt around the city. While this general plan has led to some quality interventions in the urban core, the houses that follow clearly fall outside that area -- and into other parts of Oregon -- and are indicative of design that responds to landscapes rather than city life.