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Great idea B , a tower full of
unique Modern Designs could be
a paradign shift away from the
Staritect Branding that is so
stale. What if you could choose
the Design you liked from a group of Modern Designs , instead of
cookie-cutter stuff like that
generic SOWA half-empty oval tower


Like the Street of Eames, these "Streets of" can be great fund raisers. The HBA pretty much runs on the show proceeds.


Great idea! What about a street of zero carbon footprint homes, or transit oriented homes. Or something really crazy like a street of affordable homes using modular components.


Isn't a tower full of speculative condo designs, fresh or not, the pinnacle of starchitectdom? This would be a collection of compact signatures; guaranteed to only be about the designer's vision; loaded with designer competition and one-up-man-ship. Hmmm, sounds like Street of Dreams, actually.

While I think it's fascinating, timely, and worth while; it doesn't feel to me like a paradigm shift, design-wise.


H-lin, I think speculative condos are not the pinnacle of starchitectdom. They're its antithesis! There is not one starchitect condo in Portland. There are many average and above average-looking (although often admirably green) condos by a small handful of developers who mostly work with service firms. And besides, at least these firms designing condos consist of real architects, unlike most houses.


I was referring (clearly, me thinks) to the idea of numerous individual condominiums within a tower (or towers), each of them designed by 'the best' interior designers without input from owners. While these designers may not be 'star-chitects' of national fame the premise is still to buy a signature.



Street of Dreams, simply put, makes for a really bad neighborhood.

Sure, the houses are way over sized, have horrid issues with scale and intimacy, lack creativity, accept "american dream" uncritically...we could go on. But the ultimate failing, to my mind, is that they don't create engaging neighborhoods or viable communities. It's a struggle that suburbia faces and street of dreams amplifies.

I'm not sure that a series of condos within a condo tower do much different.

I submit that Kevin Cavanaugh's development (discussed here in March?), has a far better chance to show-up Street of Dreams.


And how about appreciating the Green Home tour that has been going on for years. It features homes that are urban and exploring green, both in terms of buiding or restoration, and deeper ecology of various types of living scenes beyond just new condo's. Could there be an offshoot of this each year that focused just on green homes/spaces for sale and include both restored and new construction opportunities?


I just don't see how the builders can justify taking the risk this year. To me, it seems like a "make or break" situation.


just like architects to argue about urban over suburban. americans ARE NOT moving out of the suburbs. In fact, numerous sources, including Joel Kotkin, have revealed that suburbs are truly more diverse than cities, and are growing rapidly whether design professionals like it or not. why not, instead of bastardizing the street of dreams for not being "portland" enough, change it in such a way as to add those things everyone loves about ptown (walkability and density to name but a few). instead of overly embellished 4 car garages attached to houses, infiltrate the "street" with lower rise (3 - 4 story) density in oregon city, not just in portland. the good ideas have got to find applications in suburbia. the region cannot grow organically and sustainably without examining the ills of the fringe.


Sid, your points are well taken. It's more constructive (if you'll pardon the pun) to make good suggestions about how the suburbs can be built at acceptable scales and densities than to make the same old city-suburb comparisons I did. I fully admit that I have my own bias to overcome. Kotkin and also locals like writer Matthew Stadler have affected my thinking about the suburbs, reminding me that they're more diverse and culturally rich than I give them credit for. However, I still find it so easy to fall into old stereotypes as I drive through suburban main roads and residential areas alike, because they just seem like very ugly, car-centric environments to me. Blogging can be tricky, because it's a blend of personal opinions and more factual reportage. So I wouldn't completely back off from what I said, because that's what I feel. But it's also good to hear the counter argument.


How about Portland Spaces do some actual architectural reviewing (and not just eye-candy photos + icing) of some progressively designed houses?

I've seen some really interesting houses popping up around Portland, in addition to the typical houses by big-name architects (such as Allied Works).


You are wrong sid. The Suburbs may be more diverse but they are not "growing rapidly" much right now. The trend is in the opposite direction toward urban living and that will continue at an even higher rate once the housing market rebounds.

New suburbs are too far flung given current and eventually even higher gas prices. Neighborhoods well connected by transit or alternate transporation will be in demand. Look at the latest news about rocketing transit use for a clue.

Also here's a great article with goods stats, analysis, and history: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200803/subprime


I think this is a great idea...it would be great if you could find a block or two in each neighborhood, well afluent ones such as Alberta, laurelhurst, Reed, Nice Piedmont etc where there may be a block of old or vacant buildings that could be cleared. You could do a street of dreams that are sustainable homes in their own neighborhood with common community centers, like that co-op housing thing on 19th and prescot...or even take an area like the new Columbia but make it a street of dreams in the city. I know this is a much more difficult task, but it would be cool


I agree with the previous comment that Kevin Cavenaugh's development of 14 parcels by about 12 different architects/firms has the potential to be very interesting as a showcase of urban architecture. The site near I-5 in SW just south of downtown is a challenging one, but there seems to be shaping up a very cool mix of some top local names and a couple somewhat big out of towners. I'm planning to write a blog post about this soon, once things get firmed up a bit more.


robert - i like your take. however, the atlantic article you reference, albeit totally interesting and unfortunately true, talks about those suburbs that are, well, in out of the way places hit extremely hard by the subprime crisis. i would assume oregon city is quite the contrary to this, and i'd love the see the stats on how many foresclosures really happening in the area. i think suburbs with history, call them edge cities as in the ebenezer (sorry if that's misspelled) howard, with established cores, are growing and diversifying because of the fact the cities are becoming extremely expensive in this new world condo order. In NYC, for fact, people are pouring out into the suburbs as the city gets crowded and overly priced with the upwardly mobile..


Robert, I too have issues with that Atlantic article.

Many of the examples are HEAVILY subsidized so they do not really indicate a market preference. For example, Lakewood gave the developers $95.5 million in subsidies to include housing in their shopping center. The result has been moderately successful.

If there is there a pent-up demand for mixed-use housing there is no need to subsidize it or to change zoning to mandate it. Just loosen the zoning codes and allow developers to build for the market.


it seems to me there are two different concepts here - that of the geographical suburb and that of the image of the typical suburban home/neighborhood which all true urbanists detest (except maybe if there are front porches involved). as an urbanist i have nothing against the geographical suburb, many of which began 100-300 years ago (depending on where you are in the u.s.) intending to become fully independent towns with their own character and reason for being. there are many suburban towns that are increasing their density and trying to become more urban ~ look at the round (not the best example i know, but they are trying). i think the fact that the s.o.d. houses are empty a year later shows that perhaps that blubber lifestyle may finally be going the way of the dodo ~ atleast in the portland metro area.

i think its fair to say (robert) that that article failed to mention the american southwest at all where the suburbs of phoenix and the outer rings of las vegas are still growing with the same tired pattern and living on borrowed water. the article also didn't say anything about the empty condos lying around. but i guess condos are less likely to become a blight because they have somebody to watch over them and make sure they are not stripped of their innards. the fact is cities and suburbs will continue to grow as long as we keep producing babies. i think its important that anybody in a position to do so makes sure that we do not collectively turn our backs on the suburbs in such an elitist manner lest they do become places that only the impoverished can afford to live in while all the people with money move into the city. the apocalyptic vacancy of the suburbs is neither entirely likey or impossible, but the possibility of such a thing happening is something we can't afford socially, economically or enviromentally.

to me, the idea of building spec houses is just silly but if we are going to do it either in pdx or outside, i think we should highlight the best of all aspects of residential living, not just what money can afford like the s.o.d. houses do. and i don't think we need to tear down "old or vacant" buildings to do it.


Is it possible that some just fear people won’t really move back to the cities without the government prodding them to do so?

Maybe people buy homes on large lots because they that is how they like to live.... Maybe some people avoid cities because they have irrational fears of crime. Maybe some people just like huge McHouses and cul-de-sacs and strip malls. I'm not one of them but I know lots of them and lot of them have lots of money so they do have a choice. Especially here.


I did not write the Atlantic article, so I won't apologise for any of its shortcomings, but there are some good objections being made to it here.
It seemd to relate to the discussion so I posted it after my comments.

My point is: the mortgage crisis is not the only thing killing the cul-de-sac style suburbs(think Street of Dreams, not downtown Oregon City). Future development will have to consider density, connection to existing infrastructure, alternate transit, etc.

As far as Phoenix goes(goose) the article may not have mentioned it, but I just saw a presentaion today about even the new far flung suburbs adopting dense transit oriented forms. I believe they have a light-rail line under construction as well.

I take this all as a sign that things could be changing for the better once development picks up again.



I would like to once again, as I did a year or so ago, mention that it's silly that you continue to throw out the percentage of houses designed by architects statistic. We should be judging all design on it's quality and not the type of degree the designer holds. The fact that it says Architect after someones name certainly doesn't mean they can create quality design. I have worked with many architects that are terrible at putting together residential spaces, and many designers that are great at it. I can assure you that there are fabulous homes done by the designers of even some of the Street of Dreams homes that are city infill, sustainable, modern, in line with the buzz of the moment, etc. but I digress.


I see your point, Matt. I'll try not to make such generalizations. But still, isn't there a concern among a lot of people in the architecture profession that a lot of single family homes, if not most of them, are somewhat uninspired 'cookie cutter' designs? I'm sure you're of course right that there a lot of non-registered architects who are great designers anyway. John Yeon and Kevin Cavenaugh come to mind, just to name a few. I see how my comment can be read as throwing the baby out with the bathwater, though, so I'll try to think of a better, more acute way to phrase it next time.


"Architect" is about much more than getting a degree. It is a licensed title for concerns regarding public Health, Safety, and Welfare.
A single private residences has little affect on overall public health, safety, and welfare, so they are not required to have a licensed Architect.
That being said, it is nice that there is some regulation to the title and that there are standards that all Architects must meet and continue to meet to stay licensed. Basic good design is part of those standards(though I stress "Basic").
If "designers" were held to some consistent standard they might be given more credit.
The Interior design profession is trying to get some consistent standards set for this exact reason.


A single family residence has huge ramifications for public health. In fact, far more than a library or any other public building because far more of us use single family residences and for a far higher percentage of our day.

Architects are not required because a sfr is simple enough to be prescriptively designed and to be QC'd during construction by a series of inspectors.


It is clear that a single poorly designed private residence is only going to affect the few people who use it, not the overall public, while a poorly designed public library affects tens to hundreds of thousands of people.

Should I have said that single family residences as a use are less risky to public health safety and welfare because they are simple enough to regulate without an architect involved? This seems like debating semantics.

Either way the point is that Architects are licensed to protect the public.


"A single private residences has little affect on overall public health, safety, and welfare, so they are not required to have a licensed Architect." I cannot disagree more! A subdivision full of these harmless houses is a serious social problem that we are only starting to see the impact from. I am not one for regulation and red tape, but it is a crime what is being done in our suburbs. The suburbs may be diverse, by demographics, but they hardly embody the diversity a city offers for services and social gain. The "snub" houses with their garage as the threshold turn their backs to the street to let the muggers and rapers walk free. These are the future ghettos of our culture. Design has micro and macro levels. If you want to design a single house - fine, but if you want to put in a development of more than a dozen, then i think you need people who are better trained to help maintain a standard of care of health and wellbeing for society. This is slightly off subject, but in some ways not - the McMansions are just the same spec house on steroids pumped up with the latest gadgets. People take what you give them, and people in general are followers - it is time for people to protest and rise to change the norm.


K, your feelings are somewhat reflected in the Atlantic article I linked to. You should read it.

As far as public health, safety, and welfare, I was summarizing the intent of the law.

Hey, if my profession had its way every building would require an architect. I'm sure we could all use the business.


it would be nice to see architects tackle the suburbs and all its strengths and weaknesses by creating an alternative to mcmansions and the cul-de-sac lifestyle. rarely do architects do anything in the suburbs unless it is a high end one of a kind house for a client. architects are great at complaining about suburbia (as well as those few architects who do take on the suburbs, the new urbanists) but i'd like to see your bald-headed and black suit-wearing architect offer a solution or alternative. certainly with the high gas prices now there is great potential to rethink aspects of suburbia.

John Condon

The Street is an important marketing venue too. We introduced our new Patio Foot Spa at a house last year and sold a bunch thereafter. Pictures of our cool new spas at www.ashiyu.com.

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