I had the opportunity in March to guide a tour of 30 middle school children from the Portland Franciscan Montessori Earth School, arranged through the Architecture Foundation of Oregon, through downtown Portland as part of their Italian Renaissance history curriculum. Students were studying the music, culture, art, science and architecture of the period. What better way to study the architecture of the Renaissance than to tour historical buildings in the City designed from architectural styles of the time?
The students were introduced to the five classical orders of ancient architecture and had a chance to see examples of them in historic buildings of downtown Portland.
The tour included several notable and historic buildings in Old Town including the US Bank Building at Stark and 4th, an example of classical Roman architecture and the Corinthian classical order as well as the First National Bank on 5th Avenue, a prime example of the Greek Revival Style and the Doric classical order.
The tour started at the west facade of the Governor Hotel originally built in 1923 by the Benevolent Order of the Elks, a perfect example of the Italian Renaissance style both in exterior and interior decoration and design. The tour ended at the old City Hall also a great example of high Italian Renaissance architecture and the newer adjacent Portland Building designed by Michael Graves in the Post Modernist style.
The kids, while a little tired and cold, seemed to enjoy the tour and were most interested in the varied history of the buildings and their occupants. I've conducted tours in the past as a part of the American Institute of Architects, Architects in Schools program and hope to have the opportunity to conduct more tours in the future in conjunction with the Architecture Foundation of Oregon.