I consider myself an avid block watcher. I’m always on the lookout for breeze blocks in mid-century landscape designs. These decorative concrete blocks provide shade and privacy with a generous dose of retro personality.
Best of all, many of the patterns are still available to spruce up your yard today. You can paint them, mix and match the motifs, and complement them with greenery. Check out the video and photos below for inspiration (or just to enjoy some time travel!).
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Mid-Century Modern Breeze Blocks
Here are some of my favorite breeze block sightings throughout the Portland Metro area.
Square and Rectangle Blocks
You’ll want to put on your glasses to take in the vintage charm at Milwaukie Family Eye Care. Their rectangular blocks add style and shade to the west-facing wall of the building.
Over at Vancouver’s Hudson Apartments, even the parking garage is filled with flair thanks to these geometric blocks. They’re a stunning complement to the fabulous balcony railing you can spot in the video.
Oregon City Family Dentistry gives off Frank Lloyd Wright vibes with their mid-century bricks, square blocks and modern landscaping. Positioned along the windows, these blocks provide privacy and afternoon sun protection.
Clover Screen Blocks
The Oregon City Elks Lodge has an impressive display of clover blocks along three sides of the building. As far as I can tell, the blocks are not for privacy but are just purely, wonderfully decorative.
Near Portland’s Gabriel Park, these townhomes feature blocks with a clover-like motif that I’m calling the Comic Sans plus sign. They make a stunning screen in front of the building and around the stairs in back.
One of Portland’s newer breeze block displays is right in my backyard. My father-in-law designed our clover wall with square blocks hiding rebar support, and he was nice enough to help us build it. (Thanks, Prentice!)
Circle Concrete Blocks
The Catalina Apartments have three stories of breeze blocks featuring mod colors like turquoise and orange. The rectangular blocks hold wedge shapes that form circles when grouped together. Don’t miss the rock wall below it, showcased in the video.
On the other side of Portland, the Cashmur Manor Apartments are home to these modern gray screen blocks. Seasonal flowers and evergreen shrubs do a lovely job of softening the hardscape.
The individual blocks have a rounded diamond look, which is prominent on the Japanese Auto Services building in Beaverton. This has to be the best way to ventilate a block wall.
In Oregon City, the Madison Taproom’s circle breeze blocks complete their mid-century building. The retro roofline and clerestory windows are worth viewing in person over a pint of local beer or cider.
Other Breeze Blocks
I asked my husband, Eric, if Portland had any iconic breeze block walls that I hadn’t found yet, and he led me to the Lovejoy Medical Building in Nob Hill. Somehow I missed these five stories of decorative blocks!
Half of the blocks are rectangular, but I’m filing this under “other” because of the charming bow-tie blocks they are paired with, along with all the MCM eye candy. Globe lights, louvered screens, bricks and awnings…so much to love!
I was happy to read that Jones Architecture renovated this building to preserve its mid-century modern design.
Farther west, Hillsboro’s Valley Memorial Park and Funeral Home has a display of diamond breeze blocks that you can’t miss. My camera struggled to take it all in. Nestled in a 15-acre park with a horseshoe lake, it’s a beautiful place to honor your loved ones.
Finally, I loved this message of hope seen near the hexagon breeze blocks at Scappoose Middle School. Like some of the other block walls, this one is softened with greenery, which is a great trick to use in your own landscaping.
Where to Find Breeze Blocks
There are also specialty concrete block sellers throughout the US and beyond. Check out Retro Renovation’s long list of sellers organized by state and country.
Even if you’re not ready for a big landscaping project, you can still get in on the breeze block craze with fun decor and accessories on Etsy!