November 9, 2006
I'll Take Cars with my Plaza, Please
I attended the Design Concept Open House for the "3 Downtown Parks" project yesterday. The project is about designing the new park on top of the parking structure being built next to the Fox Tower (aka Park Block 5), updating O'Bryant Square and thinking about what to do with Ankeny Park on Burnside (no funds to build anything at Ankeny yet, we're just visioning - there is some budget, probably not enough, to build the other two next year).
While the whole process was fun (including a lecture on the history of public spaces in Europe and the U.S. last night), one aspect particularly drew my attention. In Europe, public plazas often go right up to the building faces, in fact the buildings open out onto the plaza as part of their design. We don't see that much in the U.S. For example, with Pioneer Court House Square, that simply wasn't possible because the square was bordered by 3 major transit streets plus Broadway.
But it's very possible with these parks. The idea would be to include both Park and 9th (for Park Block 5 and O'Bryant) within the park, by creating curbless streets. Cars would still be able to use the streets, and park, but the feeling would be very different than having a street separated from the park. This should change the way the buildings relate to the park as they redevelop over time.
So I strongly supported this notion on my comment card, and encourage others to do so!
November 9, 2006 8:47 AM
I like the idea of parks going all the way to the edges of the buildings a lot. Makes me think more of a campus type area.
Creates more flow for business people enjoying the park during lunch. It's amazing what a street will do to stop someone from going just one block.
November 9, 2006 10:01 AM
a pedestrian gondola, joining the north and south park blocks to SPB5 Park! =)
but seriously: i inspected the construction of SPB5 with some interest when i last saw a movie in the Fox Tower ... i couldn't figure out what the hell they were building. is this parking structure going to be completely subterranean? otherwise how high is this "park" on the top of it going to be from street level? (let alone go all the way up to the edge of a neighboring building!)
it'd be neat to join it to the south park blocks in a visual/pedestrian way, but how would you do that without some sort of ... um ... gondola?
Ankeny Park is a funny little patch. Right now it's kind of a monument to public restrooms. It's surrounded by tall buildings on all sides and doesn't get much light, and Burnside cuts it off from the rest of the park blocks. Maybe we could get the city club to relocate there? =)
November 9, 2006 11:09 AM
in my comments re ankeny park i recomended that a city funded elvis museum, in honor of the old one, be placed in one of those restrooms.
i would like this to be the start of a movement.
BRING BACK THE ELVIS MUSEUM!
November 9, 2006 11:39 AM
mykle, you should view the portlandparks website for more info. Yes, PB5 parking garage will be completely underground. They are about halway through digging a 90 foot deep hole for it, if my memory is working properly.
November 9, 2006 2:01 PM
Re: Ankeny Park, for sure its a dark little bit of real estate. It doesn't have much going for it and its potential is pretty limited.
Maybe it makes sense to create a nontraditional style park, a la tanner. Maybe something that is a draw in its own right....expostion space, special plants or a public outdoor gym. Something a little crazy would be cool.
November 9, 2006 4:35 PM
Wow, george, that's funny -- I also suggested using the second restroom space to bring back the 24-hour Church of Elvis. However, I mentioned that I was joking, as I thought this might violate the 1st amendment (separation of church and state).
Still, I agree that something a bit non-sequitur might be appropriate for this space. It really needs to be the belt buckle for the park blocks system. It needs to stand out, but also to tie together the north and the south park blocks.
I suggested that park and ninth should perhaps become continuous festival streets, with no curbs at all anywhere, no sidewalks, just a pedestrian and bicycle free-for-all where cars are the invited guests, proceeding with utmost caution amongst the chaos. And greenery, park-type stuff all along to demonstrably connect the park blocks with one another.
November 9, 2006 4:40 PM
YES GARLYNN. we now are a movement TWO PEOPLE STRONG.
time to get the word out. these recent floods, clearly the gods are angry and need to be appeased, the city NEEDS to bring back the church of elvis!
November 9, 2006 10:17 PM
Erik Halstead Says:
Apparently very few - if any - people visit Pettygrove or Lovejoy Parks...
Of course it should be duly noted that both of these parks were constructed as a previous generation's "urban renewal" project; and both of these parks are, well, deserted at all times. Unlike Keller and Jamison Square fountains, which are chock-full of people on a hot summer day, the large fountain at Lovejoy Park is virtually unheard of.
And I work in a building which is adjacent to one of these parks.
November 10, 2006 12:18 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Unfortunately Pettygrove and Lovejoy parks are positioned somewhat out of the flow of pedestrian traffic, although the new engineering building at PSU may attract a few more people to the Lovejoy Fountain.
November 13, 2006 12:20 PM
I love both of these parks. I used to live right there at 3rd & Harrison streets, and I would walk through Pettygrove park every day on my way to work. It was beautiful in the morning light, sometimes with a view to Mt. Hood.
And during hot days, the residents of that area would bring their children out to play in the Lovejoy fountain.
People definitely walk their dogs, or just go and hang out, in both parks.
Could they use a bit of a facelift? Perhaps. Lovejoy, more so than Pettygrove... if I would change anything about Pettygrove, it would just be to replace the English Ivy with some kind of native ground-cover, and maybe get the drinking fountains working again. Oh, and maybe some new light-posts. Lovejoy probably needs a broader facelift, and maybe a cafe/pub...
November 14, 2006 11:02 AM
Make that a three person movement. I love the idea of reviving the "24 hour Church of Elvis" in one of those Ankeny Park restrooms. The City probably couldn't finance it themselves -- but they could lease the building to the operator of a "cultural institution" for $1 per year. (Where is Stephanie Pierce these days, anyway?)
Park Avenue, at least, should become a promenade of some kind, linking all three parks together through a festival street or pedestrian-oriented parkway.
Lovejoy Park is a dead zone right now. It needs active neighborhood-oriented retail and restaurants. A cafe, maybe a small pub. I can see a restaurant row (such as a line of small ethnic restaurants) along the Second Avenue walkway between Lincoln Street and the square.
There are hundreds of apartments and condos within a few blocks of Lovejoy Fountain. Where do all the folks living in that neighorhood go to buy groceries? Or get their hair cut, or prescriptions filled? Would there be room for a grocery on First Avenue, just east of the the park? And are there enough area residents to support one?
There's plenty of business space built into the area right now, and a lot of people living close by, but there seems to be some kind of disconnect -- few of the businesses there seem designed to serve the neighborhood, and (by my recollection) a lot of the potential business sites are either empty. Rebuild some of the business space, get the right mix of businesses in there, and the area could become a busy neighborhood park and shopping area.
November 17, 2006 3:06 AM
Lots of people visit the Pettygrove park. Lovejoy is different, tho - nobody in the entire city even knows it's there!