Union Bank Tower

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Union Bank Tower
Union Bank of California Tower in Portland from NE in 2016.jpg
Viewed from the northeast in 2016
Union Bank Tower is located in Portland, Oregon
Union Bank Tower
Location within Portland, Oregon
Former names
  • Bank of California Building (1969–1996)
  • Union Bank of California Tower (1996–c. 2009)
General information
TypeCommercial offices
Location707 SW Washington Street
Portland, Oregon
Coordinates45°31′16″N 122°40′46″W / 45.521°N 122.6795°W / 45.521; -122.6795Coordinates: 45°31′16″N 122°40′46″W / 45.521°N 122.6795°W / 45.521; -122.6795
Roof81.69 m (268.0 ft)
Technical details
Floor count15
Floor area200,000 sq ft (19,000 m2)[1]
Design and construction
ArchitectAnshen + Allen
DeveloperWright Runstad & Company

The Union Bank Tower (stylized as UnionBank Tower), formerly known as the Union Bank of California Tower and originally as the Bank of California building (not to be confused with the older Bank of California Building), is an 82 m (269 ft), 15-story office building completed in 1969 in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was briefly the tallest building in the city when it topped-out in 1968,[4] but was soon eclipsed by the Georgia-Pacific Building (now Standard Insurance Center).


The tower was built for the Bank of California, to house its Portland operations, which had outgrown their space in the historic Bank of California Building in which they had been based since 1925, located just over one block to the east. Construction began in 1967. The full-block site was previously occupied, in its southeast quadrant, by the Rosenblatt Building, which was built in 1889 and demolished in early 1967.[5][6] Two theaters had occupied other portions of the block, the United Artists Theatre and the Liberty Theatre (previously known as the Music Box Theatre).[7]

The bank building was completed in late 1969,[8] and the bank opened its offices in the new tower on December 8, 1969, vacating its 1925 building. The 15-story building was originally known as the Bank of California building (or simply the [new] Bank of California), and informally as the Bank of California Tower.

It was originally owned by the bank, but in 1972 a pending sale of the building to developer Harry Mittleman was reported.[9] Mittleman completed the purchase in that year and moved into an office on the building's 15th floor.[10] The 1972 sale included a leaseback agreement under which the Bank of California would lease the building for up to 35 years.[11] In 1986, after Mittleman's death, the building was owned by his estate, but the "long-term master lease" was planned to be transferred from the Bank of California to a partnership of Melvin Mark Properties and Douglas Goodman in January 1987.[12] The bank continued to be the building's primary tenant, leasing 56,000 square feet (5,200 m2) of the overall 197,000 sq ft (18,300 m2) of space at that time.[11]

In April 1996, Bank of California merged with Union Bank to become Union Bank of California.[13] The Portland building was renamed the Union Bank of California Building in September of that year.[13]

The south entrance in 2016, showing the greenish-gray slate that covers portions of the building

In 2008, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ acquired the 35 percent of Union Bank that it had not already owned,[14] and Union Bank of California became MUFG Union Bank, which uses the branding "UnionBank". Subsequently, the Portland building became the UnionBank Tower.

As of 2012, the building was owned by both Melvin Mark Companies and Downtown Development Group.[1] In 2012, the owners turned a subbasement level into a fourth level of underground parking, increasing the number of parking spaces by 84 for a total of 339.[1]


Seen from the U.S. Bancorp Tower

The tower was designed by the firm of Anshen and Allen of San Francisco in the International Style, with a strong presence on Broadway. A distinctive feature of the Union Bank Tower are its exposed service cores, on the building's south and west sides, which are clad in light gray slate with a greenish tint. It is said that the slate was quarried from the same area in Wales as the stone used in Stonehenge.[15]

The building's interior design was led by Maria Bergson, of New York City.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Culverwell, Wendy (September 11, 2012). "Union Bank Tower quietly adds a fourth floor of parking". The Portland Business Journal. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  2. ^ Union Bank of California Tower at Emporis
  3. ^ "Union Bank Building". SkyscraperPage.
  4. ^ Gohs, Carl (November 10, 1968). "The Tallest Buildings". The Sunday Oregonian. Northwest magazine section, pp. 8–9.
  5. ^ "Firm To Raze Old Building". The Oregonian. January 6, 1967. p. 23.
  6. ^ "Headache ball swung by wrecker's crew ... [photo and caption only]". The Sunday Oregonian. January 8, 1967. p. 33.
  7. ^ Bottomly, Therese, ed. (2016). Portland Memories: The Early Years. Pediment Publishing/OregonLive. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-59725-687-2.
  8. ^ Swanson, Dale (December 5, 1969). "Imposing Structure, New Bank of California, Soon Ready". The Oregonian. Section 3, p. 6.
  9. ^ "Bank building sale awaited". The Oregonian. July 21, 1972. p. 33.
  10. ^ Erickson, Steve (February 13, 1977). "A Portland profile: Mittleman found 'American Dream'". The Sunday Oregonian. p. C1.
  11. ^ a b Shaw, Larry (September 13, 1987). "Partnership to run bank tower". The Sunday Oregonian. p. D10.
  12. ^ Jenning, Steve (September 27, 1986). "Lease to change on bank building". The Oregonian. p. B2.
  13. ^ a b Ota, Alan K. (August 21, 1996). "Union Bank will add Northwest branches". The Oregonian. p. D1.
  14. ^ "Business this week". The Economist. August 21, 2008. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  15. ^ King, Bart (2001). An Architectural Guidebook to Portland. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0-87071-191-6.
  16. ^ Graydon, Charlotte (December 8, 1969). "New Bank Reflects 'Cheerful Serenity', Claims Designer". The Oregonian. Section 2, p. 3.

External links[edit]