When the Equitable Building opened in 1948 in Portland, Oregon, it was recognized immediately as one of the most significant buildings of the time. Simple, spare, elegant, its concrete structural frame reduced to a minimum and further dematerialized by a shimmering aluminum skin, it filled the image of the transparent, metal-and-glass skyscraper, the first to realize the Miesian dream. With it, Belluschi culminated the development of the Chicago frame, synthesizing Sullivan's legacy with the aspirations of the future and transforming the old, masonry-clad, historicizing, prewar high-rise into the new, sleek, prismatic slab of the postwar era. The building marked a pivotal moment in the history of Modernism. The basic concept of the Equitable was, however, conceived well before the end of the war. The story of this landmark building provides a revealing glimpse into the processes of history-what buildings are recorded, how they achieve their fame, and how their reputations are sustained or lost.
- Copyright 1991 The Society of Architectural Historians