City The Unity
This picture taken by Kevin Buauman shows Portland’s Belmont Street Lofts at dusk. Designed by Holst Architecture, the Belmont Street Lofts is a four-story mixed-use building that was completed last winter and now possesses a beauty that is almost preternatural. Its articulation is at once soft and hard: soft because of the material (wood) and the material’s warm color; and hard in shape—it squareness, its strict lines, its admirable indifference to curves and bulging. The material is natural and its shape is unnatural. This is a great example of what the dialectically minded call “differentiated unity.”
The local architect Jerry Garcia is very good at finding correspondences and matches in architectural phenomena, and so it’s in imitation of his gift that I now point out the similarities between Belmont Street Lofts and the older, southern half of Seattle’s Japanese Congregation Church on 17th and Main.
The harshness of this building, however, has been worn out, it seems, by the ages. It is now just warm and wood-rich.