Storefront Design Charrette!

Save The Date!  The design firm WRT and artist Sarah Sze will be holding a 3-day design charrette from October 4th-6th in a storefront in the Congress Square neighborhood. A community open house will be held in the evening on each of the three days. (More details coming soon.)

We hope that you can join us at one or more of the community open houses to add your voice to the mix! This is a wonderful opportunity to provide your ideas to the designers as they begin the process of creating schematic concept designs for Congress Square.  There will be 2 additional public meetings announced later in 2016 and in early 2017 to provide feedback as the designs are further refined.

The goal of the redesign is to create a more accessible and pedestrian friendly urban square that encompasses the public spaces from the park over the the PMA and across High Street. The project team, consisting of the Portland Planning & Urban Development Department, Portland Public Art Committee, and Friends of Congress Square Park, has collected data over the past three years as we’ve implement programming in the space.  This information has all been provided to the designers and we will work closely with them to ensure that community use is at the core of the physical redesign.

Our goal is to enhance what is working today and to improve the physical aspects that are not. For example, we will keep the colorful movable furniture! We will strive to create a space that remains welcoming to everyone and flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of uses from reading a book or painting to larger community events like salsa dancing, sing-alongs, or kitten therapy.

But, there are physical elements that we need to address to make the entire square work even better for our community. For example, the park space is very challenging to enter for many of our neighbors with limited mobility, so we want to make it more accessible to everyone.  The trees and greenery are in raised concrete beds so it takes hours of volunteer time to keep them watered. Plus, have you noticed that you can’t sit in the shade of the trees because of their raised location?  The park looks great during the 6 months that our volunteers tend to the gardens and maintain the colorful tables, chairs and benches, but for the other 6 months out of the year, it is a large empty area with nowhere to sit. The intersection is currently confusing and dangerous for both cars and pedestrians. Some of these issues are currently mitigated by the Herculean efforts of our incredible volunteers, but to make the programming sustainable, we need to make their work lighter.

These are some of the design elements that we hope to improve through the redesign, while still keeping the vibrant energy and welcoming atmosphere that you have helped us to create.

In advance of the upcoming redesign, we’d like to hear from you about what you think works well and what could be improved.  Please take a moment to complete our redesign survey. 

Redesign Survey

Thank you for spending time in Congress Square Park! In advance of the redesign process, we want to know what you think works well and what can be improved.
  • Your favorites can include design elements as well as programming elements, such as the colorful amenities, planters, and events.
  • Please focus on design elements - materials, layout, sunken aspect, or lack of certain amenities.
  • Reminder: The redesign will include the entire Square - including the park, intersection and plazas in front of the Hay Building and the Portland Museum of Art. For example, making the Square more pedestrian friendly, or the park area more accessible for people with limited mobility, or better designed green infrastructure so you can sit in the shade of trees.
  • What NEW design elements would you like to see introduced in the redesign Square? What current design or programming elements would you like to see continue in the redesigned Square (such as the colorful furniture)?


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