Sera Architects and Meeting the Mayor!

We started today at Sera Architects, where we mainly talked about one of their currents projects, the Oregon Sustainability Center. First we were given a tour of their offices, and learned about the steps they take at work to keep it LEED certified. They showed us how their office spaces are open to everyone, so they can successfully collaborate on projects. We also learned about how their light fixtures help to save energy. Then we went back to the conference room, and we watched a slideshow about the Oregon Sustainability Center, and the process it takes to create a project like it. When it’s finished, it will be the largest green building of its kind, attempting to create most of the energy it consumes. Wow! We then split into two groups and had lunch at two different parks (my group went to Pioneer Courthouse Square), and observed how the space is used and why it is an effective area. After that, we headed back to Ladd Tower and listened as Jessica Marlitt taught us about Portland’s government, and the structure of it. This prepared us for our last activity of the day- meeting with our mayor, Sam Adams! We talked to him about his goals for the city, and his views on a variety of topics such as urban renewal and gang violence, just to name a few. It was really interesting! We even became ‘infamous’ when one of us accidentally set off the panic button in the conference room… oops. Must have served as a good laugh for someone. What and exciting end to a great day!

Adventure to North/North East Portland

Today we began at the Ladd tower. We did a quick activity to meet our newest member, Tim. We then made a short trek to the Urban Center at PSU where we met with Dr. Lisa Bates. She showed us several intriguing photos of the Albina district over the past fifty years, including one of the I-5 freeway construction. This image stuck with me because it showed how the new construction project, built to “help” the people of Portland, literally split a community in half.

We then boarded a bus that took us to an urban farm in NE Portland. The farm’s owner, Amanda, allowed us to try several of her crops. They were delicious. She then talked about the history of the property and the challenges that face urban farmers.

After a short stop at some food carts, some terrible joke telling, and a long wait for the bus, we finally ended up on our way to North Portland. The bus ride was long, but allowed us to survey the community from a good vantage point. Eventually we arrived at our destination: a recent urban renewal project. The neighborhood was made of high-density condos as well as town houses. In the center there was a wide, grassy park with picnic tables and a fountain. We talked about several successes and failures of the project. First off, we noticed that the nearest grocery store to the neighborhood was fairly far away. The area is served by only one or two bus lines, so finding ways into downtown could also be a problem. We did, however, note that the neighborhood seemed to be an attractive, safe place to live. We then boarded a third bus back to downtown Portland where we ended the day.

Portland’s Streetcar & Sustainability

Today, we learned about the implementation of Portland’s streetcar and how it affected urban growth in Portland. We went on a tour guided by Patrick Sweeney and his associate, and they helped us to learn about not only some new parks, but how certain parks are made based on the surrounding areas. This tour consisted of two parts: the study of parks, and the study of the streetcar. After our morning session, we meet with Susan Anderson, the director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. She and her two colleagues taught us about how to make sustainability both effective, and marketable to different audiences. They supplemented that learning by demonstrating the key aspects to successful sustainability, and then explained Portland’s sustainability process. In all, it was a very instructive day, and we learned substantial information that is applicable in our project.

A great day to end the week!

Today we started at Jameson Square and took some time to puzzle over what the park represented. Finally, we concluded that it represented Oregon! The sandy part of the park represented Eastern Oregon, while the rock wall and water gushing out of it represented the Cascades. I believe that the water that pooled up at the base of the wall represented the river, where it changed in size as the amount of water flowing into it increased or decreased to represent the changing seasons.

Then we met with Patrick Sweeney and his colleague Mark (I don’t remember his last name). They gave us a lot of great information about the Pearl District and mentioned affordable housing, and that Portland has much smaller blocks than many other cities in America and that we are wasting space that we could be using for more housing (at least Mark thinks so). These are just a few of the many interesting things that we learned from Patrick and Mark. We took the Streetcar down to southern Portland where we were on Tuesday and looked more at the older buildings built in the 50’s and 60’s.

We stopped for lunch where we dispersed to find food. A group of us attempted to find a Subway by searching for it on google map and we set a course for ourselves. We followed it to our destination, however we were rather disappointed with what we saw: we ran into a Streetcar, which the phone thought was a Subway (in transportation terms) apparently…

Then we met with Susan Anderson who is the director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. They gave us a lot of great information on how they went about making a plan and the difficult process of researching facts and then asking the public for their own opinions. They even gave us blue lunch bags with little helpful tips on how to be more sustainable and cut back on waste!

After that we were let lose to find our way home from a different part of town!

Housing and race issues…

Today we started off at the home base discussing the interesting aspects of the Jane Jacobs reading and how it related to what we had already learned about Portland.  Then we made our way the the Portland Housing Bureau to talk with Kate Allen about the bureau’s strategic plan, affordable housing, eliminating homelessness and the bureau’s budget.  Next we walked to the Gerding Theater for a brown bag  lunch while we listened to a discussion about race and housing between Melissa Harris-Perry, Lisa Bates and Donna Maxey followed by Q&A. We finished the day off at the home base listening to some old and contemporary music about city environments.  Today we learned a lot and I think we’re all excited about writing our own songs!

– Cammy

A Tour of Portland

Portland never ceases to amaze or surprise me! We began in Holloday Park, located by Lloyd Center, instead of our home base. As we presented on the various parks we observed in groups, late boys because of dental appointments trickled in. It was interesting to hear about what worked and didn’t work, and most importantly the reasons why. After discussing in detail the different aspects of a park, we listened to Councilor Kathryn Harrington of Region 4 present on the mission and responsibilities of Metro. Metro is a regional government consisting of members elected by residents. Everyone was fully engaged and interested in the logistics of this one-of-a-kind government! Once we shook her hand and thanked her for her donated time, we headed over to the food carts. The sweet mixed aroma of ethnic foods leaked down several blocks, exciting hungry teenagers. After frantically deciding what to eat, we headed over to the (Mission Mill Museum?) with our food in hand and listened to two architects explain the process of designing a recreational area. Then we were handed a small duplicate of his map on the projection screen and told to create a recreational space of 100 X 200 that would most serve people. Groups meshed ideas and we all came up with interesting designs, usually involving focal point or a point of interest surrounded by connected paths. Following learning that a large fountain as a focal point wouldn’t work because of the climate in Denver, we walked to our wonderful home base. The walk was not only refreshing, but also eye-opening because we now see Portland through a historic and architecture lens. Our group learned from the walk about the versatile Steel Bridge by Christian’s love confession of it. We ended the day creating a creed that set the basic foundation of which the PLACE program will be run. After a lengthy group discussion, we came up with four themes that we all agreed to abide by: respect, safety, collaboration, and present. Hopefully we will see more sun in the next few days!