Throughout Portland’s history, the area now known as the Rose Quarter has seen significant transformation. These drastic changes, while beneficial to specific uses and groups, have often carried significant consequences, including decades of displacement – the uprooting of thousands of residents and small business owners, many of them Black or other minorities. Today, the Rose Quarter serves as an efficient events district, absorbing and releasing large surges of visitors. However, during non-event days and times, the district is vacant — an uninhabitable island within the city.
When Hennebery Eddy was invited to help develop a physical and economic vision for the district, we recognized the opportunity to use design to reflect the needs, goals and aspirations of a community, convey possibilities for integrating the district into the city, and incorporate the relationships and connections to nearby sites, prompting community conversation and input.
A group of engaged citizens and community leaders collaborated over six months, conducted five in depth work sessions to review the history of the district, its current configuration and status, the range of prior proposals and current studies under way, articulate values and develop a physical framework for the future. Supported by project leader Zari Santner and Hennebery Eddy Architects, and with economic analysis by Abe Farkas, the work sessions brought together people with a depth of knowledge about Portland, urban planning and development, finance, and community interest. These advocates of the city were given no specific development agendas, free to establish their own standard of a successful outcome.
The resulting Albina Vision is not prescriptive, but rather is a framework to foster the growth of a diverse, sustainable, urban district – on par with great neighborhoods of the world. It includes short, mid- and long-term goals, considerations and aspirations that address transportation infrastructure, the built environment, and what it means to foster a diverse, sustainable community.