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|Articles - February 2014|
|Tuesday, January 21, 2014|
Page 1 of 3
BY LINDA BAKER
When the developers of the Park Avenue West Tower announced this past fall that construction would resume on the 30-story skyscraper downtown, the city’s business leaders and owners heaved a collective sigh of relief. For the past four years, the Park Avenue West Tower has languished as a massive crater in the middle of downtown, a symbol of the recession and the economic damage it wrought. The project’s reset has been heralded as a boon for Portland real estate — concrete evidence there is renewed confidence in the marketplace.
That’s the real estate story behind the Park Avenue West Tower. But if the skyscraper symbolizes a new era for Portland downtown development, the tower’s lesser known backstory is equally symbolic: about a 45-year friendship between two men who were influential in shaping and executing that development vision.
Robert Van Brocklin is the managing partner of Stoel Rives, the largest law firm in Oregon and the Park Avenue West Tower’s anchor tenant. Bob Thompson is the founding principal of TVA Architects, the firm that designed the tower. Now 60, the two men met when they were 14 years old as freshmen at Andrew Jackson High School in Portland, then lived together as undergraduates at the University of Oregon. After college, the duo traveled around the United States and Europe before eventually returning to Portland to raise families and build successful careers.
The story of their friendship is a footnote to the story of a landmark building and a chapter in the history of Portland, a city that, over the past 40 years, has morphed from a small-town backwater into one of the country’s leading examples of sustainable urbanism.
“If you go back to 1977, when we all got out of school, and took a snapshot of what the city of Portland looked like at that point in time and look at it today, you won’t even recognize it,” Thompson tells me. “It’s pretty amazing what our generation has accomplished in terms of building the city.”
I met Thompson and Van Brocklin in a Stoel Rives conference room about a month after TMT Development, the developers of the Park Avenue West Tower, announced construction was back on track. The longtime friends are a study in sartorial contrast. Wearing a black turtleneck and black-frame glasses, Thompson epitomizes a kind of urban architecture cool. Perhaps best known for his collaborations with Nike — TVA has designed more than 37 buildings for the global sportswear company, including the Washington County headquarters — Thompson has also earned a reputation for the sleek, modern residential and corporate projects that dot the Portland skyline, including the Fox Tower downtown and the John Ross Tower in South Waterfront.
Dressed in a suit and sporting a red tie, Van Brocklin looks every bit the corporate attorney, infused with a playful, energetic spark. A 30-year veteran of Stoel Rives, Van Brocklin helped grow the firm from one office in 1987 to 12 offices around the country today. As former director of government affairs for the city of Portland, Van Brocklin also helped lay the groundwork for many of Portland’s signature public projects: light rail, the convention center and the performing arts center.
“I used my skill set to get those things authorized and funded, and get legal permissions for the buildings to go up,” says Van Brocklin, who did the land-use work for the Fox Tower, another TMT project. “But I didn’t design any of it. Bob would have been the one to do that.”
Thursday, July 10, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE
I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.
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How George Fox has become one of Oregon's largest private universities.
Forest Grove sees growth in the burgeoning food and beverage scene.
Fifty-one Lane Powell lawyers were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (Best Lawyers) 2015; of those selected, 23 lawyers are from the Firm’s office in Portland, Oregon.
Barran Liebman is proud to announce that Andrew Schpak, a Partner of the firm, has been named Chair of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division for the 2014-2015 bar year.
Vanessa Sturgeon and Miller Nash LLP were selected as leaders in encouraging female advancement.