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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

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The joy of planning: How to “cook up” some really good Centers and Corridors

At the core of Portland’s plan for the future is a growth management strategy. By that we mean a way to absorb the inevitable population and business growth in ways that can enhance our neighborhoods, protect our natural resources and spread the wealth of opportunities to more Portlanders throughout the city.

A land use plan can do that by focusing people and jobs in places that either already provide access to amenities, services and transit — or that are poised to become that kind of place; vibrant neighborhood centers like Hollywood or St Johns, Multnomah Village and Montavilla or bustling corridors and streets like Sandy or Barbur, Lombard and 82nd Ave. This approach helps improve access to transit, preserves single-family neighborhoods and more land for jobs and open space — while creating great places to live, work and play.

As the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan makes its way through the Planning and Sustainability Commission,  BPS urban designers, graphics and communications staff have been working on a series of videos to show the benefits of Centers and Corridors while illustrating the essential ingredients of these great places.

Each video features interviews with Portlanders on the street in their neighborhoods, as well as Mayor Charlie Hales, BPS Director Susan Anderson, community leaders and developers. The videos also showcase the bureau’s urban design talent in the form of animated maps and renderings, and computer-generated imagery that help us envision the Portland of the future.

Urban Design Studio Lead Mark Raggett summed up the purpose of the videos when he said, “We wanted to show people the benefits of higher density places, where more people could be closer to the things that we like to do and that create a strong sense of community. We wanted to use our visualization skills in a new way to show people how exciting these places can be.”

Fellow urban designer Lora Lillard emphasized how the use of video was a natural progression for the Urban Design team. “Video gives us a better tool to reach a broader swath of people more quickly. We wanted to find new ways to communicate dense and complex topics in a matter of minutes. So we’ve added it to our toolbox.”

The team just released Episode 3: Creating Great Places, the crux of the series because it describes in detail the elements of Centers and Corridors, including shops, restaurants and other amenities; libraries, parks and open space; housing and transit — places to meet our daily needs on foot or by bike. They also provide places to gather and eat, drink coffee (or beer), play or relax — essential elements for a strong sense of community.

So grab the popcorn and enjoy watching Portlanders talk about what they love and would like to see improved about their special places in Portland. And for fun, see if you can catch a glimpse of your neighborhood center or civic corridor.