Summer is here and sunny days are in the forecast. As you head out to enjoy the weather, capture your experience of a favorite place that Mayer/Reed had a hand in shaping. We’re inspired by the moments of joy, beauty and reflection that have been submitted to our Beyond Opening Day call for entries.
Planning a new park at SE 150th and Division posed a big challenge: How do we meaningfully engage a culturally diverse community in a park planning process? Among the people who call Centennial neighborhood home, some have lived through annexation by the City of Portland, some have moved east from the central city, some are first generation immigrants, some are second generation, and some are recently resettled refugees. English, Spanish, Russian, Nepali and Somali are all spoken here. Knowing that a 7.3-acre site cannot address every need in this park-deficient neighborhood, how do we as designers prioritize activities and create a shared park vision?In collaboration with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), Mayer/Reed developed a creative and inclusive approach to meaningfully engage the community. Graphics that communicate ideas without language are an essential part of our outreach. Community liaisons help neighbors from different cultural backgrounds feel comfortable with the public process. And food and child care boost attendance at public meetings.
Last July, PP&R held a “Party in the Park,” where nearly 100 neighbors cooked and ate together, played games and participated in planning exercises on the future park site. We engaged attendees with colorful image boards depicting a variety of park activities and a site model where people flagged possible locations for activities. Community gardens, group gathering spaces and sports emerged as common themes.A followup community event in October invited participants to arrange and prioritize scaled templates of amenities such as sports fields, playgrounds and gardens on a site model. A separate art activity encouraged young and old to depict their ideal park experiences, which we then composed into a colorful “tapestry” to represent the shared vision.Inspired by this exchange of ideas with the community, Mayer/Reed created two design options for the park which we presented at a community meeting in April. Consensus was reached for some elements, while others (like a dog park) continued to generate fruitful discussion. Building on this critical input, we’re now finalizing a single park concept. This process has demonstrated that comprehensive outreach and participatory design activities (despite language barriers) can bring many different people together to shape a space that is destined to become a social hub of activity for the neighborhood.
When does a project become a place? Once design and construction are complete, we as designers step back and watch as each space takes on a life of its own. How do you experience these places?
This is the story we will explore in a photographic exhibition revealing users’ perspectives of Mayer/Reed-designed places. Submit photographs now through July 31 via email or Instagram. Please see complete details about the call for entries here.
In its 97th year, the Tech Show at Benson Polytechnic High School showcased student work in the Portland magnet school’s majors of arts, communications, health occupations, industry and engineering. As I perused the exhibits and presentations at the late February event, I was awed by the sophistication and breadth of hands-on learning opportunities. This is the high school experience I wish I’d had! Students showed me metalsmithing, skate board engineering, a scale model of the whole school, robots, lasers, light bulb puzzles, full sized kit cars, hand crafted wood furniture, radio programming, chicken breast suturing and wound packing, photography and graphic design.As part of the architectural team which is currently master planning the school’s modernization, I attended the show to better understand Benson’s programs. I left that evening with an incredible optimism for the next generation of innovators. I feel privileged to be designing the exterior collaborative learning environments that will support the technical and artistic endeavors of Benson’s future students.