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Keahi Pelayo

Thank you. Creative. Insightful. Very helpful.


It is good to get the perspective of an architect who has a distinct style on what is going well and poor in Portland design. I agree that there is a blandness to the condo explosion in the Pearl district but it is an important contribution to the fabric of the city. To have a neighborhood grow up quickly with many similar designs lays the groundwork for future designers to draw context from and contrast with something daring. Portlanders will be able to look back fondly at this time in our history when the city took a big step forward.


Brian I am ashamed of you. Drinking Stella Artois in Portland of 32 microbrewery fame!


I like Cleopfil, but he is wide off the mark on Jamison Square. Jamison Square is an extremely succesful urban space, in my mind it is incredible how well it functions as a public space , for such a designed from scratch , "artificial" (ie not evolved through time) square!

Brian Libby

I hear you on the beer, Nikos. I love local micros and particularly enjoy (1) Mirror Pond Pale Ale, (2) Bridgeport IPA, and (3) Widmer Sommerbrau. But those Belgians make some very fine beer, ya know?

I'm not sure what I think about Jamison and Cloepfil's comment. It's very popular and extremely successful in that sense. But as a childless, dogless person, I've never once set foot in Jamison Square. I've always been fine with that, because I just think to myseelf, 'This park is nice but it's not for me.' However, Cloepfil does make me wonder: is there a park that could have been built there with some tables or other quiet spaces that people like me might have enjoyed? If it'd been only that, then of course the kids and families would have been having less fun. So I don't know the answer. What is the mission of a space like that?


Glad to hear BC mention the great Lou Kahn profs many of us were
lucky to learn The Art of Architecture from. It was a priceless window into a vision of Design for Meaning and Humanity.
Everybody go look a a book on Lou.


Belgians do have tasty beers, no question!
I don't like kids splashing in the water of the fountain by (it feels) the thousands either, but I have a different daily experience of the square because I live one block off of it! I love the originality of the fountain (in line with the great Portland tradition of splash friendly fountains), you can sit on the tiered stones or the benches. There is what I think enlivens european squares, which is tables out (Fenouil) with people sitting out drinking and eating. It is surrounded by stores and there is always foot traffic. The trees provide startegic shade. It is beautifully lit at night!
I think it is usurping Pioneer Place Square's claim to Portland's living room!
I think no one can predict whether any urban design will work or not, many times things work DESPITE their design for mysterious reasons.


"He(Brad Cloepfil)was not as complimentary, though, toward the popular Jamison Square Park in the Pearl. “It’s a theme park. It’s an urban artifice. You could have done something so much more elegant.”

If grand, elegant architectural design were the only important consideration for that location, I'm sure something much more elegant could have been created. As a solution to the challenges and problems that can sometimes befall urban parks, I think Jamison is very elegant.

Jamison, with it's exceptionally well designed, child safe water feature, has drawn families and laughing children. Isn't that exactly what cities need more of? The parents and other responsible adults present at Jamison help to discourage and dispel the presence of less desirable social elements at the park; the drunks, junkies, perverts, gang bangers, and so on. Many more positive things could be said about this park.

It's amazing to me that the architectural critic, urban studies guy, editor of this architecture weblog, Brian Libby, has "...never once set foot in Jamison Square." That's just astonishing. Do yourself a favor and get on over there some sunny weekend day this summer. It's an amazing thing to see how the thing works.

There's plenty of places to sit; the gently sloping lawn, some park benches, parts of the fountain away from the water....the coffee shop, the upscale restaurant directly adjoining the park. It seems PB5 may have a water feature somewhat related to the one at Jamison, but it's hard to tell from the renderings whether it will have the potential to do something as good for downtown as Jamison has done for the Pearl. I'm so disgusted with the city for letting Moyer build that 33 story monolith on PB4...nothing could repair the damage that building will bring upon the city.


WS, I may have misrepresented myself. I've been through and past Jamison Square Park many many times. I've also eaten at the restaurant overlooking the park, Fenouil, a couple times.

It's true I don't spend time hanging out in Jamison Square, but I should have qualified that by saying I don't spend much time hanging out in parks in general, unless I've brought my lunch there or something - but I work from home, so that's seldom too.

I've said things in the past, here on this blog and in articles I've written, both in praise and criticism of Jamison Square. It seems enormously successful to me in that it's popular, it has a distinct identity, and there's a blend of fun spirit with enduring, tactile materials like stone and wood.

I also think that Jamison Square can't fully be appreciated until the trees become more mature. When that happens, and there's lots more shading, I'll be much more likely to stop.

However, I think there's also at least a kernel of truth to what Brad says in that Jamison Square does feel rather themed to me in that it's meant to be a vibrant space where kids and dogs are frolicking. I think Brad's point was that a lot of great urban spaces can appeal to a wider array of uses when their design is more minimal. Brad's a kind of classic modernist in that way, and very distrustful of design that feels postmodern or playful. It's just not his thing.

So in other words, I meant to occupy a middle ground on this one, between those who adore Jamison and those who deliberately avoid it, as Brad, a Pearl resident, says he does.

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