Okay, so the New York Times wrote about Portland again. In the past, the Grey Lady has mostly written about Portland as a twee traveler's destination or a place for alt-right protests (they're not wrong about either of these). But this time, the Times used the innocuous lens of architecture to illustrate the exact reasons a lot of longtime Portlanders are... tired. Not pissed off, not hateful, just straight up exhausted with how a fist of cash and LA boredom continues to chip away at Portland's history and identity.
Meet Arrow and Jessica Kruse, a video producer and fashion designer/Hollywood heir who moved to Portland after living in Los Angeles and New York City. They came to Portland with their kids named Alder and Odin in 2015 and bought a house. Although reporter Brian Libby (a local architect journalist) says there's "nothing conventional" about the couple, their story easily fits the stereotype of the wealthy Californians who seek a meaningful life—fueled by trust funds, tech jobs, and cheaper-than-SF mortgages—in Portland. I almost feel bad about the barrage of Portland fury that's about to crash down on Arrow and Jessica, who probably assumed they were just being interviewed about their weird house.
But, the weird house is really the root of this painful metaphor. The Times article describes, with delight, how the Kruses bought a 1907 Craftsman-style house on Lincoln St.for $965,000. Then, they paid a local architecture firm $550,000 to stick a bunch of cube-shaped rooms in the middle of it. It looks like it's a Transformer tragically stuck in the middle of transforming into a giant Rubik's Cube. As of now, the main comments on the Times story are architect fans who say the Kruses "butchered" the historic house and created a "modernist nightmare," one that will rudely cause neighboring property taxes to spike.
For some reason, I'm still more insulted by the Kruses' origin story. The Kruses decided to jet out to Portland because they were worried how their environment was effecting them. The Kruses say they were tired of sitting in traffic for too many hours and having friends with houses "so big the owners used a Segway scooter to get around indoors." Relatable!
They seemed to haul a good amount of that shit with them to Portland, though. Libby writes the Kruses have at least three vintage cars parked outside their home, including—I kid you not—a black Cadillac limo from the 80s. WHAT. And I'm sure you could use a Segway—or, at least, an electric scooter—to get around the massive house.
But it's the Kruses' apparent obliviousness to how crashing into Southeast Portland with their big window chunks and mid-century modern furniture and armada of retro gas-guzzlers will impact their new city that completes the picture. New Portland, meet your new poster children.