Archive | June, 2006

Rediscovering the Commons

Last week I wrote about poor behavior in our common spaces, linking to a particularly nasty experience one reader had on transit.

Here’s the flip side. Over at the Daily Score Alan Durning is writing about rediscovering positive interactions (and some negative ones) in the commons, after getting out of his “car-coon”.

I can vouch for that. Walking in the central city regularly provides opportunities for chance encounters with friends and acquaintances, interactions that would never happen if I were in a car. I know my life is the richer for it.

Phil Knight’s Obsession with the Suburban Campus

One of the cool things about settling in NW Portland is that I could tell friends and family back east that I was living a few blocks from the Will Vinton Studios, home of “Claymation” and the California Raisins.

Phil Knight became an investor, and ultimately owner of the studios, changing the name to Laika, Inc. a little while back. Now comes word that Phil has bought 30 acres in Tualatin to build a campus for Laika. So much for the cool factor in Northwest.

But wait! Last week the Oregonian reported that to complete its next project, Laika will be renting more space in Northwest on an interim basis.

Which got me thinking, why does Laika need one of those infamous “shovel ready” industrial sites to do its thing? This is all about computer animation and stop-motion animation. Does that need individual spaces much bigger than a Pearl District condo (well, a penthouse anyway)? Why can’t Phil build up instead of out? There’s lot of land in the “transition area” in NW Portland (the old Consolidated Freightways site). Why the rush to the burbs? Surely Laika’s young creatives would prefer to be in the middle of a happening city scene. And if Joe Cortright’s data is correct, they probably live near the city center too. That’s a long reverse commute!

So what’s with Phil’s decision? Is it just habit, an homage to the Nike campus? Does Phil secretly like sprawl and congestion? Is he allergic to city streets?

Let’s have some new thinking. After all, if Laika (the dog) could rocket into space, surely Laika (the studio) could rocket into some high-rise offices.

[Deep painful confession: since moving to Oregon in 1988 I have been employed exclusively at offices in suburban campuses, in Beaverton or Wilsonville. However, since 2000, I have primarily been a telecommuter, working from my home office in Northwest Portland and commuting to Wilsonville one day a week by a combination of bike and bus.

Sentimental reminiscence: I can remember when we used to look out the windows at the Tek campus in Wilsonville and see deer licking up the water from the sprinklers on dry August days. It’s been many years since that scene, as the nearby land is all subdivisions now. Imagine what that would look like without the UGB.]

TriMet Finalizes Mall Bus Relocation Plan

After reviewing all the comments, TriMet has released their complete plan, to go into operation in January of 2007.

  • 17 bus lines will run on 3rd and 4th avenues, carrying 85 percent of downtown riders on weekdays.
  • 7 bus lines will run on Columbia and Jefferson streets, carrying 6 percent of weekday downtown riders.
  • Line 14-Hawthorne will run on SW 2nd Ave and cross the Morrison Bridge before returning to its regular route on SE Hawthorne. Line 14 carries 8 percent of downtown riders.
  • Frequent Service on Line 9-Powell will be extended to the Union Station area to connect with Amtrak and Greyhound arrivals and departures. Night service on Powell will be added between SE 98th and Union Station, running every 15 minutes until about 10 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Line 77-Broadway/Halsey will be rerouted to run in front of Union Station.
  • Line 1-Greeley will become Line 35-Greeley and continue through downtown as Line 35-Macadam. Line 40-Mocks Crest will become Line 44-Mocks Crest and continue through downtown as Line 44-Capitol Hwy.