Open the curtain! The building's designers intended to have the curtain open most of the time, closing it only for events that demanded no natural light during daytime hours. With the curtain open, Portland is lucky to have one of the most beautiful arenas in the United States. Flooded with natural light, column free, sweeping views of the City.
The Arena has been harmed by ceiling removal, which is certainly fixable, and the lighting can be redesigned to work well for many different configurations. Veterans Memorial Coliseum's arena is extraordinary, an attractive national venue, and could attract many more events that need seating for 3500 - 12,000 people.
From the Memorial Coliseum registration form - National Register of Historic Places, July 2009 - section number 7, page 4):
"The interior of the Coliseum is dramatically different from most arenas, due to its expansive glass walls which allow
for views out. Spectators can sit in the seating bowl and simultaneously view the arena floor and the weather outside. At night, the upper rows of seats afford a spectacular view of Portland.
However, the Coliseum was designed to be able to black out the 80,000 square feet of window area by "the largest continuous curtain in the United States." This curtain, specifically designed with and for the building by the architects, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, travels upward on lifting wires and is hidden in slots behind the last rows of seats. The black, fireproof curtain was manufactured in 15 sections and zips together. Because of the concrete bowl design, the windows could remain uncovered to let in natural light to the concourse area between the walls and the seating.
Unfortunately, at this time the curtain remains in place; the curtain and the system that allows it to travel up and down needs
maintenance work and repairs.
The concrete seating bowl, with 9,OOO permanently installed padded theater-type seats initially, is formed in stepped
terraces. Seats were replaced in 1978 to increase the total seating capacity in the arena from 12,666 (including
portable seating) to 17,000. From the underside of the seating bowl, a series of concrete beams supported on posts radiate from the center of the oval, supporting the saw-toothed tiers of the bowl as it rises. The top edge of the oval is not a horizontal line, but forms an undulating arc higher along the northeast (entry facade) and southwest sides of the building and lower at the other two sides. The result is particularly sculptural as well as providing excellent visibility for spectators'.
The Coliseum was designed around a multipurpose arena, 120' by 248' and 80' tall. The roof structure above is
hidden from view by a suspended ceiling, except in the very center of the roof, where one can look up into a square opening to view the open network of steel trusses. From the main entry level, one enters the seating bowl at midlevel, and the main arena floor is sunken one level down. The arena floor itself is proportionally longer than the seating oval, and oriented along a northwest-southeast axis. Within the main arena space,
the building was designed to accommodate various types of events in relatively quick succession. Hockey or on-ice shows, for example, can be scheduled the day following a convention or basketball game. Thousands of feet of pipes laid within the arena floor work to either freeze a half-inch thick layer of ice, or to warm it so it may be scraped
(for footnotes and quotation credits, please see the registration form by clicking here)