Bookending Veterans Memorial Coliseum’s entry plaza are two sunken courtyards, which not only bring natural light into the building’s lower level conference rooms but provide space for a pair of black granite memorial walls, honoring names of Portlanders who gave their lives in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.


These courtyards are a tranquil, meditative place for reflection, an alternative to the hubbub of visitors entering and exiting the building above. While the Coliseum’s glass walls cantilever outward over its concrete base, giving the architecture a sense of jewel-like monumentality, the courtyards are a place of quiet intimacy.


The memorial walls with their etched names give a human face to the design, but they do not comprise the entire memorial. The building is the memorial. The glass-walled arena, with its sense of community, light and transparency, expresses the Kennedy era’s spirit of optimism while the courtyard memorials honor our collective past and its sacrifices. Just as the building is a union of the oval arena bowl and the surrounding glass box, so too are the memorial courtyards an inseparable part of the Coliseum's design.