Tag Archives: Pacific Northwest College of Art

The 511 Federal Building: From Post Office to Prison to Art Parthenon Continue reading on Examiner.com The 511 Federal Building: From Post Office to Prison to Art Parthenon

The 511 Federal Building located at 511 NW Broadway is eerily one of the more impressive examples of turn of the Century Architecture that we have in Portland.  It is also an example of how far the Federal Government feels that it must go to protect itself after the attacks of September 11th.

The building is currently home to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Offices.  This one time Post Office is located at what may be considered the gateway between the upscale Pearl District and the less attractive Old Town Chinatown neighborhood.  It stands as a testament to the dichotomy of its surroundings, altogether grisly and glorious.

Built during World War I, as many of the older Federal Buildings in Portland were, its adornments of Eagles, buttressed columns, and men and women dressed to compete in the ancient Greek version of the Olympics are examples of an architectural style called Neo-Classical or Classical Revival.  The 511 Federal Building was deservedly placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The 511 Federal Building located at 511 NW Broadway is eerily one of the more impressive examples of turn of the Century Architecture that we have in Portland.  It is also an example of how far the Federal Government feels that it must go to protect itself after the attacks of September 11th.

The building is currently home to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Offices.  This one time Post Office is located at what may be considered the gateway between the upscale Pearl District and the less attractive Old Town Chinatown neighborhood.  It stands as a testament to the dichotomy of its surroundings, altogether grisly and glorious.

Built during World War I, as many of the older Federal Buildings in Portland were, its adornments of Eagles, buttressed columns, and men and women dressed to compete in the ancient Greek version of the Olympics are examples of an architectural style called Neo-Classical or Classical Revival.  The 511 Federal Building was deservedly placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The 511 Federal Building in Portland, Oregon

This scene outside of the 511 stands in stark contrast to the open arms of Bud Clark Commons which is currently being constructed across Broadway.  The building’s once proud architecture is obscured by additional adornments of security cameras, chain link fences, and mirrored windows.  These security enhancements apparently keep the Federal Employees safe from the outside world and to keep the world safe from any unfortunate immigrants who may be awaiting deportation inside one of the building’s three holding cells.

What was once a symbol of a rising Empire, the 511 Federal Building circa 2011 appears now as a symbol of an Empire in decline.  More precisely, it looks like a prison.  This image was further confirmed on Tuesday with the presence of two Geo Transport buses.  Geo Transport is in the business of prisoner transportation and these buses are often used to transport immigrants who do not have legal status to the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Center in Tacoma, Washington.

Fortunately, this once proud building will get a new lease on life.  While the City of Portland begins to squabble about where to move the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Offices, waiting in the wings to occupy the 511 is the Pacific Northwest College of Art.  The College of Art will enter the 511 like a warm breeze on a cool day, and the presence of hundreds of art students alone will go a long way towards restoring this treasure to its previous glory.