Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I’m volunteering with a group of people on developing a plan for the South Downtown area of Milwaukie. I recently visited one of Portland’s newest parks, Director Park, to help familiarize myself with the concept of public plazas.

In my Landscape Design business, I always stress the importance of paying attention to the details, especially in smaller gardens where every little spot counts. WOW, the architects and designers who worked on the Director Park project certainly paid attention to the details! The space is not only gorgeous, it is also flexible. The adjoining roads are festival streets with no curbs; they can be blocked off with bollards to expand the park all the way to the building edges for big events, while allowing vehicle access to the buildings on non-event days. The use of one paving material, granite bricks, makes the space look larger. These design elements could be used in a home landscape…a driveway or RV parking pad could be located adjacent to a patio, with movable planters or screens to hide the vehicles when parked, and moved away when the whole area is needed for entertaining.

While there are a lot of “green” elements in the design…I question the use of the Gobi granite pavers…44,000 square feet of them. They are beautiful and should be durable and long lasting, but the fuel used to transport them from CHINA…was that worth it?

The glass roof drains via rain cables into a storm water planter.

Lots of handwork went into creating the finishing details.

The tree grates are made of granite too! I would have specified renting porta potties in brown or tan only...the blue just doesn't do it for me.

Another storm water planter...with granite curbs.

Seating area with iron wood benches and movable tables.

There are some interesting photos of the plaza, and the under ground parking structure, being built in this document (page 29 to 39)

Portland’s website has a FAQ page about Director Park: 

I don't think the style of Director Park would work in Downtown Milwaukie; I think Milwaukie needs something softer and more organic. I do hope the planers for our new plaza, pay close attention to the details.

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