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seems a little odd that there is not one urban designer or urban planner as one of the 5 participants considering its about thinking the future of the portland cityscape?


Perhaps the premise is that urban planners should step aside momentarily to see a different perspective.


Portland ranked number 5 in the nation for best Architecture and Design.


And yes, I just checked the Calendar to see if it was April 1.


Could we see a credit for the sketch?
You mention both Rick and Bill presenting drawings.


I knew that picture looked familiar -- SW Vista Avenue looking North toward 23rd Ave. That central feature looks to be a vision for the "Gateway" intersection of Burnside and 23rd Ave. -- but I sure don't see the planned streetcar. Although maybe not so useful for rush hour traffic, that gateway sure would be a cool addition to the area.


is that an obelisk? yikes.


Yikes indeed, worse yet, is this a "roundabout"? With the deference pdx drivers treat each other and pedestrians traffic will come to a standstill in no time...

brad cooley

WOW! This is an impressive display of what the design community can do if they stay ahead of the bureaucrats and think of solutions for the future of the city. I was not expecting much more than a few poster boards on some tried and true staples of new urbanism in a city but this blew me away.

I also was not sold on the roundabout idea for nw portland but saw the potential with a proposed eastside version at the horrible intersection of E Burnside, Sandy and 12th. That is one of the better solutions I've seen for that clusterf**k.

The comparison of major NW cities of Vancouver, BC ; Seattle ; San Francisco and Portland was well illustrated by Carol Mayer-Reed. The graphic representation of history, location, size, and commerce made for sensible opening of discussion for these cities with a lot in common.

Each designer put a different spin on the future and potential for different aspects of the city of Portland. It was impressive.

Nice work PNCA and whoever else coordinated this thing. This type of presentation and idea gathering will go a lot further than any "visioning" done by Potter and the city the last couple of years.

If you haven't seen it check it out.


I also enjoyed the exhibit.

Rick had some good examples and analysis of density that works, but I am skeptical of the roundabout solution for these intersections.

There are two sucessful examples in Portland that I know of, Ladd's and Glisan at 39th. These are in residential areas with relative light traffic compared to the two Burnside options.

Ladd's is easy to walk across due to slow traffic(not-counting the bikes flying through), but in the Burnside locations it would be a less pedestrian friendly environment with dangerous unpredictable cross walks because of the high traffic volume.

It does make a nice image though.


I enjoyed the presentations but wonder how this will go further than the visioning process? And I'm not a fan of the way this city does visioning processes - too vague with no connection to resources/commitment to implement ideas. As one of the presenters mentioned when the question of how do these 'revolutionary' ideas become actions, let's create an urban design institute to be a catalyst/critical mass/advocate for better quality design on macro and micro level.

KB Dubs

The sketch was done by Rick Potestio. 39th and Glisan is the worst example of a roundabout one could find. Roundabouts are great ways to move a large volume of traffic through an intersection efficiently. They are shown to reduce accidents significantly and they even reduce pollution by eliminating from-stop acceleration. They are all over Europe. Granted, drivers of P-town would have to up their level of sophistication a couple of notches and put their lattes in the cup holder for a few blocks, but I think we are up for it.


HI All,

The basis for proposing roundabouts at key intersections in the city, and specifically at Burnside/23 and Burnside/Sandy, is to demonstrate that this strategy can resolve circulation issues at many intesections in the city. Roundabouts are proven to reduce traffic accidents, injuries and deaths. Also, they reduce emissions. And, because traffic flows through them, they reduce tensions. (Yes, Portlander's will need to be more attentive and agile drivers.)

I also desire to counter the current plan to turn Burnside and Couch into a couplet, which will result in disconnecting Burnside and Sandy and infilling he existing intersection with a building, thereby forever severing Sandy's connection both to Burnside and to its historic terminus in what was once "Produce Row". (If you look at historic maps of the city, you will see that Sandy begins/ends at the edge of what was the wetlands on the east side, now infilled).

The plan I propose also reconnects Westover to the 23rd/Vista/Burnside intersection... a major street that was blocked by PDOT and PDC with the reconfiguration of said intersection and the building of the retail complex housing the "GAP". At one time this intersection joined all the major streets of the west side and as such was the social center of the west side, with the noted Thiele's restaurant being the hub of social activity.

I believe the roundabout is a Portland DNA element, as exemplified by Glisan/39 (a very busy intersection) and Ladd's Addition. The roundabout proposed at Burnside/Sandy is essentially the same size as Ladd's.

I and my partner have studied the roundabout idea, driven many of them in Europe and Bend... and we have reviewed the literature, consulted with traffic engineers, and laid out plans utilizing the city's cad documents for the intersections. We have carefully gaged distances and radius to ensure proper spacing between streets entering/exiting the roundabout.

We do not present ourselves as traffic engineers, however, I believe our proposed roundabouts work to resolve the traffic issues at these intersections and offer the opportunity to maintain connections via boulevards, to all quadrants of the city... the main purpose of a street/avenue/boulevard in the first place. We invite further study by PDOT.

Regarding the treatment of the center piece, roundabouts require a large visual element at the center: a mound of planting (Ladd's Addition), statue (Glisan) or fountain, as is typically seen in Europe. I propose fountains, in keeping with Portland's small but significant fountain tradition. The obelisk is a visual device for the rendering. Suggestions? A totem pole? How about Barbara Sue Seal's bronze seal statue????



Thanks Rick for expanding on the background and your thinking on roundabouts. We have explored a roundabout at 7 Corners where Division and 20th etc come together. One of the concerns was that it wouldn't be as safe for the handicapped to cross. This seemed a misconception. A challenge with roundabouts in some places is they take more room and can require acquiring some private property to pull off, 7 Corners was running into this challenge. However, roundabouts are such an elegant solution for certain intersections and I think you worked on a great possibility. We are going to be hiring an urban design consultant for the Division Street Green Street meets Main Street project and I hope that we can attract some of the great thinking and imagination that I saw and heard at this PNCA presentation. Thanks again Rick and all who participated.


i just returned from pnca where i finally had the chance to study these presentations. i felt that rudy's and rick's ideas were the most compelling.
i especially liked rudy's vision for increasing our (physical) connection to not only the willamette but the columbia as well. i also thought his simple graphics, were quite informative.
i can't say that i am sold on the roundabout - it seems dangerous for those on bicycles. i liked the density studies, however i was a little concerned that the simplified zoning maps did not show areas of existing historic districts. when density increases so does the incentive to demolish and with our weak historic preservation laws, many of older buildings and houses would be lost.

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