Did you know that Pioneer Square Mall is not at all retrofitted against a rampage of rabid rhinoceros? Or how about Voodoo Donuts possibly collapsing at the prospect of not having the capacity to handle a convention of Oprah fans with a mad-on craving for No Name donuts? How about the Portlandia statue being able to resist the vicious attacks from a pack of crazed flying monkeys fresh from Oz?! Whenever there’s a disaster somewhere in the world, there will inevitably be comparisons regarding the unpreparedness of other cities to that disaster. In this case, Portland’s public schools are not prepared for a 9.0 magnitude earthquake like the one that hit Japan.
Don’t get us wrong – it’s important for city planners to do the best they can to protect their constituents against the unforeseen and unexpected. However, there’s only so much that an architect can do and still remain within the stringent constraints of a populace unwilling to have taxes raised too high. We’d love it if schools could withstand a meteor shower the likes of Deep Impact or Armageddon, but disaster-proofing against the highly unlikely isn’t cost effective and it isn’t as important as ensuring our students have somewhere to learn how to read and write.
So, in a recent article about the earthquake-status of Portland schools, we can respect Portland’s decision to build schools so students have enough time to escape in an earthquake, but not so the students can read War & Peace before running out the door.
What do you think? Should Portland dedicate more time to disaster-proofing its buildings? After all, Godzilla could be right around the corner (we’ve seen stranger things crawl out of the Columbia River).