The Landscape Architect’s Guide to

Portland, Oregon

Introduction to Sustainable Portland

The Future

Portland has laid a magnificent foundation for a sustainable 21st century city. The expansion of the MAX light rail, bike facilities, car and ride-share programs and services; the growth of mixed-use, infill developments; and the retention of a urban growth boundary will assure our growth and quality of life are balanced. Portland has shown the ability to maintain political, policy, and planning continuity, enabling innovative developments to come to fruition. Urban evolution usually occurs at a slower pace then political terms allow and constituencies can tolerate, but Portland's leadership stays the course, bridging political terms, and seeing long term, complex urban projects through to completion.

However, Portland has also become a bit more conservative and less fiscally adventuresome these days. Make no mistake, Portland is progressing, but just perhaps at a slower rate, with more calculated intention. In the 1970's and 1980's, Portland had little to lose, with outward migration to the suburbs, demolition of historic buildings for surface parking lots, and a depressed downtown economy. Today, Portland finds itself a bit too comfortable, not willing to take the same risks once acceptable. The demise of the Portland State University Sustainability Center, a public-private partnership to build a highly innovative campus research center and office building, also signaled a new unwillingness to take on big risks.

Strong leadership, vigilance about prospective issues, as well as continued learning from global cities will ensure we continue to build on the fortuitous decisions of the past. The great lesson learned from Portland's urban evolution is money follows great ideas. Portland listens to its people. "Citizens are the riches of the city."

Here are some projects in various stages of development that show how the city is listening to what its people need.