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NOPO Designer

People may gripe about Jeff Joslin, but his likely successor should really concern the design and development community.

At least Jeff had some real world practice experience under his belt and some genuine intellectual heft.


Thanks , Jeff , the city is better for your hard work and insight !


is there another story in here? mayor Sam, Gil Kelly, lack of construction projects??

for the record - design review is an incredible vehicle to improve design for the city, even works well as leverage with your client. hope the next in line carries the torch onward.


Is there another story to this? Mayor Sam, Gil Kelly, lack of construction?

Design review has made a huge difference in this city, and i hope the next leader carries the same pursuit for better design forward. Design Review is a great vehicle to leverage better design from your clients too!


good riddance


Anon, a libertarian in a regulated world, destined to only have a gripe with that world!


"Don't hate the player, hate the game"


thank you jeff!!! we really could not have done it without you! also a sincere thanks for reminding us so thoroughly of how truly special you really are! you will be missed!!!


Quoting Jeff Joslin:
"I've no doubt, based on my extensive experience and investigation, that - in the realm of aesthetic regulation - we in Portland have the most evolved and effective approach and system of any city, in this country or beyond."

Now that takes chutzpah, as we say back East.


Joslin's self-congratulatory eulogy is both revealing and a bit sickening. He does not deserve the praise - even from himself. Joslin is the quintessential bullied child, whose repressed rage found an outlet in a position of power. It is said that a critic is nothing more than a frustrated artist. This could not be more true of Joslin. He is officious, sanctimonious, and of mediocre talent. His life's work has been criticizing others work. In my opinion, the only thing that he been successful at is growing the size of the department - and that is a questionable accolade.

Yes, design review has become the arbiter of design in Portland - shamefully. This process uses his unqualified staff of sychophants - which are self-selected by conformism and mediocrity - to control much of the design in the city. Ultimately, this group picks up a singular agenda - like trees, screening, balance, color - and applies that philosophy to every project. While these qualities are in-and-of-themselves okay, the people who apply them often have no substantial experience with architecture, and have a topical understanding of the project . This ignorance, compounded with power creates the most dangerous kind of bureacrat. And the result is often bland design - much to the endless frustration of of the design community. In the end, who wants their work to be judged by someone who is not even a peer?

How do they select staff at design review? Remember, design review unlike other bureacratic functions in the city, is qualitative and subjective. This puts a much higher burden of knowledge and sophistication on the reviewer then a code bureaucrat, but their staffers do not reflect that quality. While some good eggs passed through that department (i.e. Kristen Minor) , inevitably they left when they did not conform to the culture. Now we are left with a Joslinesque monoculture who are more interested in their agenda for the city, rather then fostering creative and innovative design. It's very sad and frustrating.

Furthermore, even when design review puts forth bad ideas - and they often do - the design community often accepts and implements their criticism without fight. This happens for two reasons. 1) There is a palpable fear of retaliation from this group. Architects know that if they don't like you, they can make life very difficult for future projects. [I for one am not giving my real identity here for that very reason! ] And 2) The costs and resources associated with challenging them is too great, so the community learns to acquiesce and take the path of least resistance. There are no checks and balances, and no recourse except a lengthy appeal process.

In the end, we need a different type off personality to lead this group. Hopefully one who is already successful and secure in her own right - one who does not need this job to climb socially or to prove anything. We need an architect's architect, who has already proven herself in the world, and wants to give back to the community. We need wisdom in this position. Another insecure and sniveling bureaucrat threatens to take away what Portland holds most dear....her beauty.


I find 'David's' critique a bit strong, but I can empathize with his frustration. I would have found Jeff's note more intelligent if he had reflected not only on his sense of accomplishments, but also on what could be improved, where they missed the boat and some sense of a more nuanced perspective on this teams work. And I second the hope that the city finds a replacement with a very strong architecture and design experience, otherwise we end up with more 'value engineered' decision making.


Wow .... well said "David"
One of Joslin's most visible legacies is the South Waterfront -- a sterile collection of mediocre blue glass towers that will be challenging to transform into a lively diverse neighborhood.
And if Joslin had had his way, the travesty Allegro would also be permanently looming over the PDX skyline in its original hulking ostentatious and overblown form.
It is a good time to have a public conversation about Portland's vaunted "design review" and how to improve its effectiveness.



Jeff, and more importantly his groomed sucessor
(a talentless, insecure ego) chased out another
reviewer whom had actually presented to the Design Commission
on the private side before joining the City. He actually
could walk the talk and served as a resource. He was not wannabe
architect. He actually gave a damn about our design
intent and our client's budget.

I concur and will add: the Portland Design Commission
act as peer review. Design Review under
Joslin became a shadow design studio that abused
its authority. As someone whom has suffered this abuse
I will take a competent and disinterested and transparent
review process over Joslin's shadow design studio of
"skilled and gifted" (his words) any day.

Jeff Joslin

I anticipated some typical flaming by allowing my personal letter to be posted publically. But, frankly - despite related experiences here in the past - I'm shocked and disappointed by the particularly vile, personalized, mis-informed diatribes hurled from behind the veil of anonymity.

I may respond more fully and specifically when this has more largely run its course, following my employ with the City. It will not be anonymous, per every post I've ever placed here or elsewhere.

For now, I leave you with the following, more consistent with what has motivated me my entire life than some of mis-characterizations above.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.
- Rabindranath Tagore


personal letter pshaw. you sent it to half the damn city.

see you later, dude.



The veil of anonymity, is unfortunate but necessary,. As I said before, I personally fear retaliation from your department - and thus will not jeapordize my career - otherwise I would gladly confront you. I resent the implication that you are nobler than anybody for your transparency - as you have nothing to lose. Perhaps, if we as a community could review your work, in much the same way you review ours, then there would be more respect and less fear. You had the power to create checks and balances, but chose to act like a czar. You have reigned with relative impunity - and in my opinion have created a very dysfunctional department. Also, I'm not impressed with your prose or poetry - to my untrained ear, it sounds more like a narcissist in his perpetual delusion, trying to convince himself of his own greatness.

Randy Leonard

I am sorry some have said what they did here, Jeff. It is upsetting for me to read the most mean spirited comments because they are not only off mark, you really do not deserve that.

I have very much appreciated your consistent professionalism. I have never doubted that you focused every day on making Portland the best designed city possible. In every interaction I have ever had with you, I have always been impressed with your passion, knowledge, intellect and -more now than ever- your impeccable integrity.

In a world where many punch the time clock in and out and then head home, you never viewed your work as just a job. In spite of those who may not appreciate your attention to detail, we do indeed live in a city dominated by designs that you influenced that are recognized world wide as one of the primary reasons Portland is acknowledged as one of the most livable cities in the United States.

I will miss the lively conversations you and I have had. In the time I have been associated with the Bureau of Development Services, you have been a person I have consistently appreciated and valued as a consummate professional. Your work as an elected member of the Board of Directors of The West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation is entirely consistent with your approach to public service at the Bureau of Development Services.

The City of Portland will never have a more public service minded person on the council or as an employee than you.

On behalf of a grateful citizenry, I wish you good luck in your future. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to assist you.

Commissioner Randy Leonard


wow, randy reads brian's blog...impressive.

Randy, I do have to say that it is quite respectful of you to post a comment like that, for you have definitely had a level of conversation and interaction with Joslin that many have not. At the same time, I can understand the frustration others have with him over when it comes to design review. It is often much easier to point out things we all dont like in architecture than it is pointing out this we all like in architecture.

I actually wouldnt mind hearing a bit more from Joslin, if you choose to, like any exit interview, it would be nice to hear about what was successful and a failure in your career, which is something you must of had for both in the length of your career because we all fail at one point or another.

It would also be nice to hear what direction you wish to see the city head in now that you are leaving. What areas do you wish to see it focus on and so on.

Personally, I feel that a design review for Portland should be taken more as a guideline than an end all to design because design is subjective...proper urban planning and working on a street level is a much different aspect with design and I think sometimes it gets confused with the overall impact that an architect has.

In the 4 and a half years of living in Portland, I have watched this city grow tremendously with small firms that bring big ideas with them, I am very hopeful that the design review will work with our young designers to allow a better form of architecture that we have seen so far in our city emerge and become the front runner in design....because in the end, the true reason for a design review is to push the bar on design, not hold creative people back.


I too have experienced the hand of design review as a professional - and was surprised at how arbitrary the process seemed. Unlike other areas of the city which have clear, predictable codes and guidelines, with DR one is left in a room with a person who tells you what is acceptable and what is not - often with no justification other than "we do/don't support that aesthetic." It was pretty surreal the first time I experienced this. Also, do they feel like they are not doing their job unless they make you change the design in some fashion? I have never NOT had to alter something, in a submission. Never. Does this speak to my failing as a designer?

Randy Leonard

I understand your overall question about where we have been and where we are going in terms of design. I do not necessarily disagree.

However, my bigger point is that I do not believe piling onto Jeff as he summarizes his honorable service during his career is an appropriate forum to level criticisms of him. I understand the impersonal nature of blogs, but there are real people who are reading and reacting personally to what is said here.

I do think another post on the issues you raise would be an interesting discussion and one that I would follow closely. However, I completely tune out mean spirited and off mark comments...especially when written under the cloak of anonymity.

I would also point out that Jeff has always done on this site what others have not. He made his comments under his own name. It is easy, if not revealing, for others to take mean spirited shots at Jeff conditioned only on no one knowing who they are. Even if I agree with what was said in that context, I am completely turned off by the lack of integrity that kind of criticism requires.

Whether readers agree with Jeff or not, his service epitomized that of the ideal public servant. He did what he thought was best and approached his work with the highest degree of integrity, honesty and a true sense of public service.

Whether or not I would have made the same decisions as Jeff is less important, especially now in this discussion focused on Jeff's retirement, than my respect of Jeff and his professionalism.

I wished we had more public servants like Jeff Joslin.


It strikes me that we have two different threads of conversation going on here. One is about Jeff and his integrity and professionalism and dedication, which I respect in my own experieces with Jeff. The second thread is more about what is the role of Design Review and what works and doesn't work about it in folks experiences here. I feel like there is room for revisiting the vision and direction of Design Review at this time of transition. I appreciate it's roll and it has helped improve the design and quality (I realize this sense of improvement is open to interpretation and part of the core challenge of this groups work) of some projects in my own neighborhood. And, like all things human, I feel like there is room for stepping back and reflecting on how this design review work could be even better and this feels imperative. Too often it seems that key people are replaced in organizations and the city without taking the time to think about and seek feedback from the broader community on how this role could be improved and enriched. I hope the city doesn't miss that opportunity this time.



I appreciate your perspective here; and I believe that cooler heads recognize that Jeff's public service is ultimately not what is fueling this invective -- it's just an easy target. I apologize for anyone in our community, that has directed their frustration in this unproductive and hurtful way.

However, at the same time, I'd like to put my two cents in on issues that have been raised.

On a large scale, the tension between building code and design has already tethered a lot of freedom from architects. With Design Review, it seems to be eroding the last bit of spirit we as architects are allowed to have - and I never hear that discussion publicly. Are we becoming technicians, negotiating between the client and the city? On one hand, something that is aesthetically acceptable to the city, and on the other, financially feasible for the client?

I'd like to see us, as architects, reassert our roles as a creative force. We are quickly losing that aspect of our profession, This is not Joslin's fault, it is our own - for not voicing our frustration. From an artistic perspective, in order for architects to produce their best work, they do need freedom. Otherwise the work can become tepid, uninspired, and even homogenous. The difficult task of design review is balancing the needs of the community, without stifling great innovation and expression. It is a difficult job - and there is no easy answer.

Randy, I encourage you to re-examine and explore the goals of design review, before appointing a replacement. And please, include our community in this process. Ultimately, whomever fills Joslin's position, in many ways will determine how Portland will be perceived by the rest of the world. We all want to see the best for our beloved city,

Jeff Joslin

Thanks, Commissioner (et al).

I accept the prompt to provide a more frank, critical retrospective on the challenges, pitfalls, and limitations of design review (yes, I admit, there are some) and related matters. I look forward to doing so as "Citizen Jeff", and will coordinate with Brian once the transitional dust settles.

My goal in participating in this site has always been to stimulate further constructive dialogue in the design community. This has been a challenge, given the personal targeting that typically results. It's forced me, each time I hit send, to ask whether the pain will be worth the gain, and has been an insurmountable obstacle for many. It seems obvious that such assaults will not advance the willingness of others to openly and voluntary contribute to such discussions in the future. This not only limits the range of discussion, but deters from the transparent and iterative exchange necessary to most succesfully inform each other, towards the goal of best advancing our respective efforts, and by extension, the City.

As we all go forward, I'd humbly suggest that we consider accepting what I've consistently prompted my team to assume when working with y'all: that we are all doing our best work in an effort to contribute as meaningfully as possible.

Jim Heuer

Of course Mr. Joslin is entitled to be as self-congratulatory as he wants to be at a time when he is bowing out of his position, but his departure does give the city an excellent opportunity to re-think what Joslin refers to as “aesthetic regulation” and the proper role of the city in applying it to new development and to the rehabilitation of historic structures. One can argue that the Design Review Commission’s functions to regulate the interface between a new building and the citizenry (street-scapes, overall massing, parking, pedestrian access, etc.) are part of our citizens’ right to have a say in how their city will be constructed and how they will experience it. But extending that authority to purely subjective issues like “style” or “color” without some clear public purpose and over-arching set of guiding principles invites the sort of arbitrariness, confusion and aggravation that seem to have accompanied Design Review during Mr. Joslin’s tenure.

Frankly, I’m hard pressed to see how the Design Review Commission insistence on “clean modernism” (words I heard expressed during one of their hearings), as opposed to other stylistic approaches, enhances Portland’s “livability”, nor does it particularly serve any other appropriate public service that I can think of. Indeed, a concern for the stylistic uniformity and mediocrity of viewpoint sporadically enforced by the Commission must inevitably act as a deterrent to creative design in the city’s architectural community. Perhaps this is a fitting continuation of the conservative classicism of the Doyle years in the 1910’s and 1920’s that resulted in our lack of much Chicago Style or Art Deco architecture, but I’d like to think that Portland has grown culturally way beyond where it was in the 1920’s.

Mr. Joslin’s departure also provides an opportunity for a review of the role of the Historic Landmarks Commission. I find it very interesting that Mr. Joslin mentions this commission consistently in the same breath as the Design Review Commission, even though the Landmarks Commission was starved for resources and staff support for much of Mr. Joslin’s time with the department – and frequently languished with un-filled Commission positions. It has taken an activist Commission Chairman like Art DeMuro to demand the kind of legal, research, and other staff support that the Commission really needs to do its job. Still, we don’t have any kind of full-time, Preservation oriented staff in City Hall at a time when the tension between preserving the city’s historic fabric (much of which is essential for our “livability”) and accommodating more population density is escalating rapidly. If there are any key weaknesses in the regulatory edifice that Mr. Joslin constructed, I believe this is one that urgently needs correction.

In point of fact, it may well be that the Historic Landmarks Commission is leading the city in a new direction in “aesthetic regulation” with its newly adopted design guidelines for the Skidmore-Old Town Historic District. For the first time, the Landmarks Commission has adopted a set of clear, unambiguous guidelines with well thought through and articulated underlying principles. While one may disagree with the principles, the guidelines provide predictability for the development and design community relative to what will be accepted and what won’t be… while allowing substantial creativity in individual projects.

It can be argued that the guidelines for design review outside of the historic districts should be far less stringent relative to aesthetic matters, but even there, where the city intends to apply such regulation, the clarity of the SOTHD guidelines could well be a model for future regulatory reform.

Randy Leonard

I appreciate and like the suggestion that the design community help me/us in selecting Jeff's replacement by helping me better understand what you would like to see happen with design review.

Are there any suggestions for the type of forum you would think might be most productive for us to have that interaction in?

In addition to comments here that I will read, I would also appreciate thoughts in an email to me, with a cc to my Chief of Staff, Ty Kovatch, my BDS liaison, Sara Petrocine and BDS Director Paul Scarlett.

Our email addresses are;

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

Thank you.

Brian Libby

Just wanted to say thanks to Commissioner Leonard & staff for the dialogue and for visiting the site.

Also, Portland Architecture now welcomes essays and commentaries from people in the community, so if anyone would like to write about this topic (or any other), please feel free to email me at [email protected].

Ed McNamara

I have been involved as a developer with about 6 projects that have gone through Design Review since 1995. Like everyone else I know, I grumble about it. Despite the grumbling, I think the process is useful.

I’m disappointed by the tone of the comments here from folks who aren’t willing to express their disagreements because they fear retaliation. It’s your choice if you don’t want to speak up in public, but it isn’t Jeff Joslin’s fault. It doesn’t seem fair to criticize him or the Design Review process because you’re not willing to take some risk.

On a very few occasions, I have had disagreements with the Design Commission and I think they have sometimes treated my architects badly. I have always expressed those disagreements and criticisms to the Design Commission in the hearing. I have tried to do so as respectfully as possible, though I know I’m not always successful at that. I feel that the commission and staff have always listened.

Design Review is a tricky process. And I agree that it can seem arbitrary at times. But, in my opinion, it won’t work if the designers aren’t willing to engage in dialogue during that process.

In my opinion, Jeff has done a great job of overseeing the staff and working with the Design Commission. I have always found him to be approachable and have appreciated his willingness to listen.

Thanks, Jeff. I'm sorry to see you go. Good luck in whatever lies ahead.

Ed McNamara


Thanks for the invitation Randy.
Aside from individual suggestions and comments to you all, a dialogue session to come together and talk about this would be very valuable. This would create an opportunity for developing some shared understanding of folks perspectives about what has worked and what could be improved with design review and Jeff's replacement. Having an independent facilitator would help create space for all the different stakeholders to contribute in a balanced fashion.
Creating a shared understanding of the goal and scope of the conversation would help. In the vein of each of us helping take responsibility for improving this process, I'd be happy to help with planning and facilitation (some of my own background) if folks felt like this sort of collective dialogue would be useful.


Never forget design review was implemented to protect the public FROM architects egos. Brutalism anyone?


A public conversation on design review would ideally happen at a variety of levels and types of forums. At one level it should educate the public generally about design review --- why it was put in place initially, how it has evolved, and why the system should continually evolve in response to new circumstances. At another level, forums should be held among practitioners to learn from past successes and failures. At some level, any discussion of design review and how to make it more effective has to connect to broader discussion of the central city master plan, the vision of the city it embodies, and the techniques employed to realize that vision. Maybe Joslin's replacement should be someone who could orchestrate that multi-pronged conversation and help redesign the system.


My experiences with design review summarized:

--An inexperienced planner trying to do a job that was difficult. She regularly mis-interpreted the code and rarely, if ever, gave a straight answer to much of anything. "Let me run this by my group" was the answer to most inquiries. (weeks later and vague answer) Why not just let us talk to your "group"?
--Lots of design time and money spent trying out options to appease design review. Most of the "suggestions" had been ferreted out months before in real design meetings. If design review wants to have real input in the design of buildings (which I do not think they should) they should be involved in every design meeting so they know what process led to the drawings they are looking at.
--The process should be, imho, a way to eliminate the worst buildings that have REAL negative impact on the surrounding areas. Instead it ends up taking talented, inspired design and dumbing it down or mandating tacked on changes that are not in harmony with the overall scheme. The players with their own money involved have to bow down.
--Historic review is easily worse and does not seem to be very evenly applied. In the NW alphabet district for example you will see good projects fail review or be approved in a cartoonish fashion while house after house gets remodeled in the coveted "Beaverton tract house" style.

I don't have a problem with Jeff, but his choice to spend the salary we provide to live on a hobby farm on Sauvie Island while he leads the team trying in earnest to reduce or eliminate those ex-urban opportunities for the rest of us doesn't sit well.

I will not risk my money on a project that has to go through such a review again. I appreciate having this forum to discuss the process.


I don't think most people understand the power the Jeff and his staff had/have. It is no surprise that people must remain anonymous when criticizing the king. To do otherwise would be to sabotage your next submission to design review. His heavy hand could determine the life or death of your project and the thousands of dollars and hours that you've invested in it.
It forces me to question the sincerity of people like Ed McNamara. Is he just saying nice things to curry favor and to improve his chance of approval next time... The fact that Jeff's power and approach to his job has forced us to question and fear is proof that something has gone dreadfully wrong under his watch.

randy gragg


What a fascinating exchange. Having watched the Design Review process on many a high-profile project for over a decade, I have to say nearly every project improved as a result. The meanspirited, cheezy psychoanalyics above are laughable -- particularly in a city in which developers call most of the most important shots in architecture, even on ostensibly "public" projects like the Portland Art Museum expansion.

For every regulation, there's a constituency. And in Oregon, those constituencies have the additional final hammer of the state land use system's appeal process. Jeff Joslin practiced his job with a rare combination of working experience as an architect plus enough of a legal mind to bring the far more arbitrary design review process he inherited into the necessary conformity with state law.

Another uncelebrated -- actually, completely unrecognized -- legacy of Jeff's career here is his work on the city sign code, crafting it and defending it against the likes of Clear Channel.

While I think Jeff and his crew at times could have been more creative in their interpretations of the occasional code, to paint him or the process as a reason for the lack of exciting Portland architecture is absurd. Point your fingers at the real culprits: the developers and politicians unwilling to take the risk -- and/or the architects whose work or force of personality has thus far failed to spark the WILLINGNESS TO TAKE RISK.

Randy Gragg


it is telling that those defending the guy are those that did not get regulated by him.

design review is a necessary evil needed to make bad projects better, but joslin made good projects worse.


Really Randy?

With all your experience evaluating portland architecture you've never seen a great design get watered down through design review? Really?


How about a new post discussing the following theory by Randy Gragg... How fascinating.

"Point your fingers at the real culprits: the developers and politicians unwilling to take the risk -- and/or the architects whose work or force of personality has thus far failed to spark the WILLINGNESS TO TAKE RISK."

We've heard here from developers who took risks and paid a heavy price from Jeff, and from a politician who thinks Jeff did a good job (no risk there). So whose fault is it again?


A well facilitated forum (i.e. not run by city staff) that allows everyone to put in their ideas and actually leads to real and meaningful action. I highly recommend Charles Kingsley as he has experiencing with government process, has design and development expertise AND knows how to lead challenging community dialogues. Also, he will not hesitate to tell it how it is, which seems to be right up your alley! I have always admired Portland's willingness to try a new way of doing things. Maybe at the same time you could talk to Charles about getting the Division Green Street process going again.


My friend wife works in the City and he share with me the plans that Commissioner Leonard has in mind for Jeff's position. I have worked with him for years and he actually used to work there I think 14 or 15 years ago when it was an honest place. I trust his perspective and insight on the issue.

They plan to hold a pseudo search for a replacement and then magically declare that Joslin's main sychophant Tim Heron is the most qualified candidate. How surprising. How parochial, how Portland bureaucrat. What about all my coworkers who are actually qualified who recently lost their jobs? Should they not get the same chance as Heron?


I learned far more then I wish to know about how our firms permits are handled and just how unqualified the current set of cronies are at design review. Most of the women I enjoyed working with on our projects over the years were fired at that agency to be replaced with all young and unqualified men. Sad. so sad.

I was interested in learning about Jeff's replacement and was able to find the link above. Apparently he was one of the only chosen city planners who received overtime according to another old timer at the City I play squash with at the Mac.

Sounds like Jeff lined up a fat deal for his buddy before leaving, overtime and the kingdom.

I'm confused, I recall that Heron is the uppity bald kid with that I despise having to deal with occasionally. Does anyone know if the bald young guy is this Tim character?

I hope the City does an honest job and hires a completely new person and not one of Joslin's brats. I don't care for any of them, not the woman who always seems to be whining about her pregnancy ( wait . Hasn't she been pregnant for the last 3 years??), not young baldy, and not the dizzy blonde.


you kids get off my lawn!


"you kids get off my lawn!" - I can't stop laughing...
What makes it even funnier (or sad) is that I can tell exactly to whom Pat is referring.

NOPO designer

Ben and Jon,

Except what Pat wrote appears to be true.


Base pay Overtime Total salary
$65,529.26 $10,651.87 $76,181.13

You can look up the salaries. It is all public record that the Oregonian gathers every year into a searchable database.

BTW: I heard the same story but from a different "youngster" source close to Commissioner Leonard's office.

That is why my post leading off this comment thread raised a concern about Joslin's successor.


While there is a lot of concern being expressed here, I hope that folks are also taking the time to make some suggestions to Randy and his staff. I may be naive, but I think transitions like this are oppotunities and I'd prefer to put out for what we want than spend too much time being pissed off. We then can see what unfolds while knowing we have offered constructive and even generative feedback. Here is the input I sent to Randy and his staff a couple days ago:

Hi Randy and all
I wanted to followup on your invitation for further input around the 'conversation' going on at Brian Libby's blog on the Jeff Joslin transition and the possibility of improving Design Review. As I've mentioned on the blog, I feel like there could be a lot of value in at least one good forum (more may be helpful, but I imagine their are time and resource constraints) with key stakeholders that would look at how design review could be enhanced and how that can inform Jeff's replacement. I also think that an independent facilitator would be a real asset in allowing not only the community, but you all to share your visions of what is possible for this groups work.
Past experience suggests not everyone is going to agree on what this looks like. I'd personally encourage the conversation to focus more on what folks hopes or high dream are for Design Review and Jeff's replacement than much energy spent on what folks don't like about this groups work. And we have the community benefit of developing some shared understanding of this groups work and possible improvements. The value of this forum can be further enhanced if it is connected to you then giving a sense of what you take away from the forum and how it may impact directions moving forward. I've mentioned that I have a background in community development and facilitation and would be happy to talk with you all about whether I could be of assistance.
Whether or not I am a good fit for being able to help, I strongly recommend a good conversation with folks involved about the opportunities for improvement with Design Review and how to further evolve this groups work led by someone who can be generous to all perspectives.
Warm regards,


Oops....and if I could spell check I'd notice 'oppotunites' should be opportunities.


i think rick potestio would be a great candidate. rick has a great eye, a breadth of knowledge in urban design, and understands the impact population growth will have on the metro region.


I can't stand this episode of Gossip Girl anymore without commenting. Bravo, "Pat", for doing the heavy lifting and digging up public record information that the Oregonian beat you to. And bravo again for second-hand conjecture - with no substantiation - that a certain someone will be the successor to Mr. Joslin's position.

You all should be ashamed of yourselves! I mean, I'm not even sold on the general success of the Design Review process, but the way you are talking about Jeff; the process; and now Tim, you sound like bullied children (to quote "David") who aren't willing to engage in honest, constructive dialog for fear of retribution. Why do we care how much Tim makes per year? He worked some overtime and got paid for it - okay, so what? Most of the Senior City Planners at that link garnered overtime pay, but what benefit does that data do us without some context? Perhaps in the past year there were more Design Review applications than normal, thereby necessitating the overtime. Then again, maybe there weren't - but without substantiation, how can you argue one way or another? You can't.

"Apparently he was one of the only chosen city planners who received overtime according to another old timer at the City I play squash with at the Mac." Great anecdote - it makes you and your squash partner sound like two old codgers. If that's what you were going for, Pat, congratulations. But you know what? It doesn't hold any weight, because if you'd look at the link you yourself provided, many more Senior City Planners received overtime pay besides Tim.

If you have anything of substance to share, please do. If not, you're only embarrassing yourself.

Nathanial J

I was off to the gym and saw this honest but mean spirited thread.

It opens the book and helped to air a long discussed concern among those in our honored profession. I remember speaking with other principals at ZGF about the lack of City staff's professional experience in actual professional offices. Having staff that attained anything less than 5 to 10 years of experience in a firm is bad for the City of Portland.

The staff at the City are nice, but being cordial does not make up for the professional time and acumen gained in an architectural or engineering firm that has to constantly look at the bottom line.

I will be upfront and say two factors in this case upset me.

1) I am upset many of the employees we have hired over the years never received the kind of money the City staff must be getting based on the web link. This pay is surprising with their anticipated modicum of knowledge to draw on to make important decisions. And the overtime is completely foreign to us as well. Our young associates have to work 60 plus hours a week and in all honesty are basically salaried.

2) Any thought of the City hiring anyone less then a nationally renowned architect in these times simply depresses me. I trust Mayor Adams would not do such a foolish thing.

I suggest we do a bit of healing and put our collective energy into helping the City search for Mr. Joslin's replacement. I will think of a few names to suggest and forward them to the city staff above.



I'm struck and saddened by the lack of journalistic rigor in Gragg. Sadly, he dismisses all criticism as "cheezy pschoanalytics" and fails to recognize that there is a serious issue here. I would hope that he has the drive to explore the issue more deeply, rather than categorically reject all those who disagree with his position. In the past he has lauded design review publicly - much to the dismay of many in the architectural community. I hope, in the future articles, he tries to represent a fuller spectrum of the community - as clearly, psychoanalytics or not - there is a more serious conflict which needs to be looked at. Sadly, he will find, that most of us will not condemn design review for fear of reprisals - so it would be a more difficult story to get....it's a shame when only one side of a story is conveyed,. No one who looks at a pretty new building understands the politics behind the process - and apparently that includes Randy Gregg. I have a feeling if he knew the whole story, he would not be so quick to dismiss.

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