Text by Joshua Taylor:
It seems extravagant to say that one architect has been changing the complexion of a city, yet to one returning to Portland, Oregon, after an absence of several years a refreshing change in character is evident in the new construction on all sides, in shops, office buildings, homes and churches. The most notable of these works, it is impressive to find, have come from one firm, that of Pietro Belluschi.
Possibly it is wrong to say that the essential character of Portland is changed, because Mr. Belluschi’s buildings are so in harmony with their natural environment that they make buildings have been complacently accepted for years seem like unwanted intruders irritating with trivial stories of other times and places; although Mr. Belluschi’s designs are modern in the international sense of the word, it is to his credit that they are also local and familiar.
That he has brought within their experience the full significance of modern design has been appreciated by a conservative community whose members have repeatedly chosen him to execute their most seriously considered projects. Since the war, for example, Mr. Belluschi has been commissioned by eight congregations to design new churches, an unusual record for an architect devoted to the principles of modern design. His congregations have been satisfied because he has given new meaning to their places of worship without estranging them from religious traditions they hold dear.
Pietro Belluschi, born in Ancona, Italy, in 1899, received the degree of Doctor of Architectural Engineering from the University of Rome. Coming to the United States in 1923 he carried on advance studies at Cornell University, then joined the architectural firm of the late A. E. Doyle in Portland, Oregon, giving his own name to the firm in 1943. Under its former and present leadership the firm has been responsible for some 1300 buildings including many of the largest in the city of Portland.
Examples of Mr. Belluschi’s work have appeared in practically all professional journals not only in this country but also in England, Denmark, and Argentina. He has received awards for architectural excellence from the Committee on Education of the American Institute of Architects, the Architectural League of New York, the Pan-American Congress of Architects, and Progressive Architecture. In 1934 Mr. Belluschi was American delegate to the League of Nations Institute of Intellectual Cooperation in Madrid. He is past president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was fellow of that society in 1948. A past president of the Board of Trustees of the Portland Art Museum, he has been a frequent lecturer at that institution and at the San Francisco Museum of Art. On the first of January this year Mr. Belluschi joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.
Mr. Belluschi is Dean of the M.I.T. School of Architecture and Planning.