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Bob R.

FYI, at this time, the PDFs do not open, resulting in 403/file not found errors.

Brian Libby

Sorry about that. Should be fixed now. If it isn't, I'd also recommend going directly to www.centennialmills.org.


So am I reading things correctly that the City is potentially going to put into this project 20 or 30 times as much money as they put into the tram? (which by the way leveraged hundreds of millions in private investment).

Just curious where the public/activist outrage is... funny how it only seems directed at certain projects.


Brian, I had many of the same reactions as you did to these proposals. Don't think I agree with your soup pot analogy though (maybe you are saying something about your cooking?) A soup can be quite delicious by adding lots of different ingredients but in this case, let's not hide the main ingredient ... the Centenial Mill.


I'll second Lyle's soup comments. A good whore sauce is something to behold.

As for the proposals, ultimately the execution will tell the tale but SEED's seems simple and elegant and nicely scaled. It also makes the existing buildings centerpieces AND maintains a home for the MPU. From a programmatic standpoint, it seems to be "of Portland." What a great set of elements for this city.

Also, the site is where the Park Blocks intersect the river and SEED's proposal provides a fitting terminus.

I can't say the same for either of the other proposals. In fact, I find them offensive, one the kitchy the other an office park. Again, execution will tell the tale, but...

I'll continue to review the proposals.


I too agree with what's been suggested so far by Brian and others. I have only scanned the proposals quickly, and I don't really know the PDC's criteria either, but I certainly developed some quick impressions.

I found the Cordish proposal most disturbing. I know it's only a rendering, but to include retail such as Armani, Prada, Cartier, Starbucks, etc. seems to miss completely the notion of local enterprise and what makes Portland somewhat unique...The original mill buildings are barely legible, and then wrapped in a pseudo-mill architecture. This proposal seems to be more about the tourist.

The Nitze-Stagen also feels pretty generic, although it appears much more sophisticated. I like the idea of the contrast between new modern and the mill, but it feels like the old mill buildings are really just in the way. It seems heavy handed, sterile, and overwhelming. I also found it interesting that the development team pictured in the proposal is primarily a bunch of white males.

The LAB proposal is the only one that makes the mill the centerpiece. The interventions are modest, modern and seem to complement the mill buildings nicely, and you can sense a real spirit in this proposal. This proposal is the least heavy handed (easier to do of course when you are proposing far less building), but it is the most evocative and organic. The development team is also the most diverse (in terms of gender at least), and their past projects also seem to have a spirit of place.

I am curious to see the presentations on Wednesday, and to see how this develops.


i thought showing the pictures of the nitze stagen development team was such a bad move for that reason. what are you trying to say? look at all the important white men that worked on this (along with debbie thomas, of course)? it was more about the all-star lineup than the ideas. also, the cheesy snapshots of different potential personalities in the neighborhood fell flat. i felt like they were trying to sell me something in a mall, not show good design ideas.

that being said, the way the modern towers frame the mill was the strongest idea of all three. assuming there needs to be development generating income for the project, i think it makes sense to add buildings in the scope of the project. lab's scheme is nice but unrealistic in my opinion.

i also think a bridge over the tracks should be MANDATORY from the pdc.

Double J

I wasn't bowled over by any of these three but the LAB "Seed" proposal was the only one that didn't seem antithetical to the way Portland works.

I doubt anyone is going to approve a plan that has 100,000,000 in public $$. The tram was a smart use of public money... I have trouble seeing how the two projects relate.

One thing, the Pearl could use a large flexible public use space for talks lectures, conventions, TBA and thesis exhibitions for non pearl district BFA and MFA programs. Id like to see something like that at the mills.


ben: the bridge is happening when a design is finalized. Bridging the mills to the fields has always been in the vision.


The pedestrian bridge has always been planned and desired. Unless the cost of the bridge is included in the Mill proposals, it is currently unfunded.

Cheryl Barton is designing the Fields Park and has included the conceptual design for the new pedestrian bridge although Parks and PDC have not funded the bridge at this time. The bridge will be funded somehow by someone though.


yeah "in the vision" doesn't always equal in the project. i've seen too many studies over the years that say "potential" or basically "if someone else pays for it" sort of thing. just stating for the record that we as a collective whole should not let the bridge fall off the table. it's going to be a bureaucratic nightmare with the rail company and i can see both developers and the pdc trying to let it slide through the cracks.


ben: re: "bureaucratic nightmare with the rail company". I've sat in on some of the design meetings for the fields and height requirements for rail were discussed.

In these same meetings for the fields there was alot of focus on the bridge and its relationship to the park. I agree that the Mills designs didn't seem to cover the naito overpass in any depth.

Maybe you should mention/question it at the open house on Wednesday?


The pedestrian bridge will be funded and built IF there is anything of substance built at the Mill. The city and the neighborhood won't let the bridge go unbuilt and more importand I don't see any developer agreeing to build anything at the Mill site without a guarantee that the bridge will be funded. The Mill is very isolated from the Pearl...even with a pedestrian bridge.

Xtian Gunther

Lots of bright posters here! I was an initial actor in moving the whole Centennial Mill site from destruction to potential key landmark and attraction. It's good to see LAB listened to some of what was hammered on incessantly in meetings and interviews.

The other two firms are largely clueless and disrespectful of all things PDX. They must be joking, right?

Even LAB's proposal, which is decent, fails to bring cruise ships, a bakery/mill type operation and artists/non-profit price-fixed residences to the site to ensure it 's vibrant at all times.

A 24 hour restaurant onsite should be mandatory. MAN-DA-TORY!

I've heard buzz about running the Streetcar out to the Mill. We'll see. That'd go far to de-isolate it from The Pearl.

As for Brian's comments that there's a lot going on in each proposal, in an effort to satisfy many parties, I totally disagree. Vibrant places, like Pike Place, The Champs Elysée, Granville Island all include arts, residences, lodging, galleries, unique shops and restaurants, theatres and more. Think bigger, more vibrant Portland!

And a small subsidy, like one that might be needed to make SEED great is fine, no? Tax revenue, publicity windfalls, tourism, etc. will offset a small public investment. However, any public investment should come with strings in the form of demands for certain features such as public theatre/meeting space, a 24 hour onsite eatery, etc.

The two proposers of the larger Starbucks/Office Park missteps have to be joking if they think PDX should cough up tens of millions to help with their lame proposals. Typical developer garbage, eh?

Lastly, I agree with Ben: "the Pearl could use a large flexible public use space for talks lectures, conventions, TBA and thesis exhibitions for non pearl district BFA and MFA programs." I'd also like to see something like that at the mills.


Did any of you go to the presentations?

The Nitze-Stagen team was in a completely different league from the others, in terms of the sophistication of their proposal, the thoughtfulness of the site, the city and the opportunity, and their preparation for the event. LAB came across as jokers from California who offered nothing of substance; Cordish brought an earnest, VERY wrongheaded festival marketplace proposal of the worst kind.

It's kind of alarming for me to see all the support for the LAB proposal here. In particular, the assertions that theirs is the "most Portland" are totally off-base. They seemed to take a skin-deep read of Portland (talk about slow food and sustainability!) and their proposal showed very little understanding of larger processes at work in this city.

I urge you all to give the Nitze-Stagen proposal another look. It is perhaps too rich and too much. But it is very much a furtherance of the progression of the Pearl District, and mostly in a good way.

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