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From the Field: Director Park - Observing Portland's People Plaza

By Andrew Louw, MLA/MCRP Candidate, University of Oregon

Formerly a parking lot, Simon and Helen Director Park is now a bustling urban plaza. Built over a six-level underground parking garage two blocks from the iconic Pioneer Square, the park hosts a range of amenities and activities and has become a popular destination for residents and visitors alike. In keeping with Portland’s reputation for innovative stormwater solutions, the OLIN-designed park keeps over 990,000 gallons of runoff per year from the city’s sewer system.

The forthcoming Landscape Performance Series Case Study Brief, developed by our University of Oregon research team, also draws attention to Director Park’s outstanding social benefits. Between 2010 and 2012, the actively programmed space hosted 228 events which attracted over 73,000 people. Designed to accommodate use throughout the year, Director Park attracts an average of 1,495 people per day during summer months and 376 per day during Portland’s cool, wet winters.

Our research team’s time-lapse video was shot on Thursday, July 18, 2013, and captures three time periods: morning setup (8:30 - 11:30 am), lunchtime (noon to 2 pm), and evening (5 pm to 8 pm). The time lapse is a compilation of over 1700 still images shot every ten seconds from a six-level parking garage adjacent to the Park. Between noon and 2 pm alone, the time lapse recorded over 550 different users.

Research Assistant Andrew Louw is participating in LAF’s 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program along with faculty Research Fellow Roxi Thoren. They are working to document the performance benefits of three diverse projects in Portland, Oregon and Long Island, New York. Any opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. Their inclusion in this article does not reflect endorsement by LAF.

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