November 6, 2011

Zoning

According to Portland’s zoning requirements in this area, the site I am interested in is under the Central Commercial Zone (CX). It is a zone “intended to provide for commercial development within Portland’s most urban and intense areas” with a “broad range of uses allowed to reflect Portland’s role as a commercial, cultural and governmental center.” The zoning guidelines also state that the development should have “high building coverage, large buildings, and pedestrian-oriented buildings placed close together, with a strong emphasis on a safe and attractive streetscape.”

Allowed Uses:

  • Household Living
  • Retail Sales and Service
  • Commercial Parking: Conditional Use, needs approval
  • Event Entertainment
  • Outdoor Recreational Activity
  • Agriculture: Conditional Use, needs approval

Dimensional Standards:

  • Max. FAR: 4 to 1 Ratio
  • Max. Height: 75 ft.
  • Min. Setbacks: 0
  • Street Lot Line: 10 ft.
  • Garage Entrance Setback: 5/18 ft.
  • Building Coverage: No Limit
  • No Minimum Landscaped Area
  • Ground Floor Window Standards Apply
  • Pedestrian Requirements
  • No Required Parking
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November 6, 2011

Collage

I’m working on collaging together photographs of the site and surrounding areas to pull color and texture inspiration.

November 6, 2011

Existing Building Uses

The existing building uses in the Lloyd District are mostly commercial retail and office spaces with a small amount of residential, especially along the main streets. Because there are so many people commuting to work in this area, providing an adequate amount of housing could allow for less travel time to and from the offices, as well as connecting citizens to nearby retail, commercial, and restaurant destinations.

There are some major hotels in the area which support the tourist attractions of the Lloyd District and a scattering of small restaurants and coffee shops, mostly consisting of chain businesses. The amount of parking is overwhelming and taking away from a pedestrian oriented building front at street level. There is an obvious need for population density, and these maps begin to show where development needs to happen. The district is also missing a cultural identity that could be expressed through fine dining, art, and other cultural exhibitions rather than the fast food commercial bits that are existing.

October 28, 2011

Development Plans

These mapping diagrams were taken from the Lloyd District Development Strategy created by the Portland Development Commission in 2001. The analysis shows what attractions are existing currently versus what areas need improvement or have building opportunities in the near future.

The Central Core is the area identified at the center of the district, where my potential site is located and indicates that all of the major destinations are within a 5 minute walking radius. The fourth map shows that pedestrian friendly, quieter streets are running through and around my site, but there does seem to be a lack of open green or plaza space available. The gold star on my potential site choice is encouraging, and has allowed me to further my site analysis in this spot with the confidence in knowing that it is a place the people of Portland would like to see future development.

October 25, 2011

Compare/Contrast

Understanding the site through visual analysis is vital in the design process. Whether it is through photography, art interpretation, mapping, labeling, or collaging, the analysis can help bring out ideas, concepts, and goals that are specific to the site you are working with.

Petra Kempf’s book, “You Are the City” illustrates the way she would analyze a site in an expressive, messy, and non-factual manner. By using bold colors and isolating different components of the site, she creates a series of mapping diagrams to layer on top of one another, allowing the interaction of these elements to be played with in a variety of combinations. Another book, “MetaCity/DataTown” by Winy Maas gives an opposite approach to examining a site’s context. The author provides plenty of factual information that is clearly illustrated in a logical format with bold texts, numbers, and graphics.

While you attain the information quickly and efficiently in Maas’ work, Kempf’s process isolates the key features that are important to you. Her drawings are simple and to the point which is why I chose to map out the Lloyd District in this way in order to give a more personal study of the site and identify the features I find most significant.

October 16, 2011

Thesis Draft

Precedent 1: Lexis on the Park, Portland’s Pearl District, Mithun Architects

Precedent 2: Sierra Bonita Apts, West Hollywood, CA, Tighe Architects

Concepts: 1 “Green Street” on SE Holladay Street (lush trees and plantings, park area revitalized for Saturday Market, bioswales, rainwater harvesting), 2 Community Involvement (large open spaces for communal use, colors, textures, art expressive of the local character) and 3 Supportive Use (restaurants, coffee shops, retail will benefit local employees during the work week, shared utilities as sustainable strategy.)

Value: The importance of life is key here, bringing in beautiful built environments where people can live, work, and play, while coexisting in the natural world in a renewable and sustainable way.

Design Method: To transform the Lloyd District using innovative design solutions that will attract people to this area and create large open public spaces that promote social involvement.

Objectives:

• Mixed-use housing development along SE Holladay Street

• Revitalize downtown area

• Provide residential, commercial, and civic use

• “Green Streets” with bio swales to recycle water throughout building

• Shared utilities between new and existing buildings

• Ample community space for gathering

• Express local culture through restaurants, shops, art gallery

• Bring energy, life, and character through a playful design

Thesis: My intent with this project is to investigate the urban environment of the Lloyd District in Portland, Oregon, and to determine the lacking uses that are needed to increase the population density in this area. By bringing in mixed-use housing and commercial buildings with sustainable design strategies, this development will promote growth opportunities and community engagement, creating a city center attractive to all visitors of Portland.

Because the area is constantly full of office workers and visiting tourists, a restaurant, cafe, and possibly even an art museum would be supportive of the nearby Convention Center, Lloyd Center Mall, and the many large office buildings, giving people ample public space to enjoy the city culture of the Northeast neighborhood. The goal is to create a partnership with the existing buildings by using shared utilities, and to create a working greenscape along NE Holladay Street that will function as a rainwater catchment system to recycle gray water.

October 11, 2011

Sculpture

In order to find inspiration through something sculptural, I played around with a wiry, intertwining force of nature that wraps around the rigid building forms. The gray chip board is to represent the existing buildings along Holladay Street, as they are old and somewhat conventional. With the shiny mesh, I wanted to create a shimmery, silver appearance that would enliven the street, and the green wire is to show my goal in wrapping the buildings together with a natural, pedestrian-friendly environment.

The wire also represents the grapevine, as a natural organism I have been researching. It symbolizes the way vines grow in nature, reaching out to nearby objects for support, which in terms of a building could mean using existing buildings for shared structure, utilities, and other resources. The silvery mesh is showing an urban fabric that I have not yet decided on the actual appearance, but I have something in mind that relates to the canopy idea of filtering light in different ways.

October 7, 2011

First Impressions

When I visited the Lloyd District, there seemed to be great potential for growth and a few good sites that could use further development along NE Holladay Street. Lush trees and walkable sidewalks lined the somewhat busy street, and with the many close by attractions, this area immediately grabbed my attention. The MAXX Transit line also runs here, helping to bring in people from all over the city. The Holladay Park is further East and the street comes right up to the Convention Center at the opposite end, close to I-5 and the Willamette River.

I see the need for residential development and a fill in of mixed use buildings, helping create a centralized “downtown” feel that this side of the river is lacking. In between 7th and 9th, there is currently a large empty parking lot that could be a possible site location, and along the street I plan to find smaller nodes that could fit into the urban buildings already there. Intermixing new development into what exists right now will be more successful because there is currently a draw to this location and its surrounding landmarks.

September 30, 2011

Vines

For inspiration, I chose to look at the grapevine; a natural organism that works in interesting ways to grow, change, and evolve over time in the wild landscapes all over the world. Grapevines are predominant in the Northern hemisphere, and growing up near Napa Valley, California, I often associate this vineyard plant with home. Watching the way vines can twist and twirl around fences, trellises and anything they find is fascinating. They are quite beautiful in their leafy, intertwining appearance.

Ancient Egyptians used grapevines in art to symbolize the heart, the blood, and life. (4) The fruit of the vines is the grape, produced for selling, eating, and making wine. This feature is the most usable and interactive feature of the plant, with the vines, stems, and leaves as assisting agents for strengthening this purpose. In a building design, the spaces that are used most often and encourage engagement could be considered the “fruit” of this building organism, while the infrastructure and other parts that make up these spaces would be the rest of the vine’s structure.

As an organism that uses everything within reach to find its own strength, the grapevine has an amazing ability to utilize surrounding resources so that it can grow long and tall in order to reach sunlight. This is like all plants, where height is important to allow for the cycle of photosynthesis, but in this case, the grapevine cannot rely solely on itself to survive. (4) I think this brings up a great relation to the buildings in our cities. Most of the time they are created as one sole entity to serve a single function. Instead, they could be looked at as a system of buildings that are linked together to share utilities, structures, and functions in order to create a sustainable built environment that can rely on its connections over time.

The canopy of a grapevine plays a key role in capturing light energy for photosynthesis as well as regulating the water use of the plant through a process called transpiration. (1) The small openings on the grapevine leaf allows carbon dioxide to diffuse into the plant and releases water vapor, similar to evaporation. (2) This could direct the building envelope to have a perforated surface to help the ventilation and absorption of energy. The way light comes through the foliage of the grapevines can also be a part of the aesthetic, creating a screened view of the outside, while still preventing the inside spaces from overheating.

Another quality that I find interesting about the way this organism works, is its shapable structure that seems to grow back almost immediately, no matter how many times its stems are cut. (3) It is a persistent creature, constantly reforming and regrowing to new spaces and situations. This is similar to the way we expect our built spaces to withstand years of use and change in functions over time, yet they lack in the ability to be molded for a new purpose. When we “cut” out the current function of the building, we should be able to reuse the space for new functions to grow. An interchangeable feature is important for the design of these Ecodistricts in preparing for future use.

In terms of possible sites, I have been considering the Lloyd District of Northwest Portland. This location seems a probable choice, needing building development along the main Martin Luther King Boulevard for pedestrian use, housing, commercial space, and even some community public spots. This area has the potential to bring in people to the Convention Center, Rose Garden, and the Lloyd Center, making these places lively and usable for locals. I think it will be important to open up wider sidewalks and build up along city block edge, setting up a more “downtown” vibe that is proved successful on the opposite side of the Willamette River. This new Ecodistrict could be an extension of the progressive design of Portland’s developed urban fabric on the West side, and be the pull this city needs on the Eastern waterfront.

References:

1 http://winegrapes.tamu.edu/grow/canopy.html

2 Benjamin Cummins (2007), Biological Science (3 ed.), Freeman, Scott, p. 215

3 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/quickref/fruit-small/training_grapevine.html

4 http://www.merr.com/users/1bear1/vinedesign.htm