From Keller Fountain to Jamison Square, Portland has a rich tradition of successful full-block public squares. But one of the most visible ones – O'Bryant Square – has had varied success. Initially a lively fountain plaza, after a few years the square, predominantly in off-hours, became a home for drug use and associated illegal activity. When nearby surface parking lots sprouted a robust food cart community in the late 2000s attracting legions of local downtown workers and out-of-town tourists, O’Bryant Square became “Portland’s Dining Room.” In March 2018, the City abruptly closed the square due to structural deficiencies in the underground parking garage’s walls. O’Bryant Square now sits fenced, empty, and graffitied. Portland Parks & Recreation is developing a long-term plan, neighborhood activists and property owners want action now, and it seems everybody has ideas, from food carts, games, and movies to buskers, concerts, and farmers markets. But in this rare opportunity to completely reinvent a downtown park in a neighborhood rapidly evolving into one of Portland's most creative hubs, how can O'Bryant best add to downtown Portland's civic ecology?
Join urban design advocate and Portland Parks Foundation executive director Randy Gragg, Pioneer Courthouse Square executive director Jennifer Polver, architect Will Ives, and Portland Parks & Recreation capital program manager Britta Herwig in a moderated panel discussion about the future of O’Bryant Square. Taking place in a design studio overlooking O’Bryant Square, the evening will take a hard look at the current successes and deficits of downtown's public squares, offer updates on Portland Parks & Recreation's plan, and highlight property owners’ and stakeholders’ faster proposal. And we'll invite the audience to offer their hopes for what Portland's next great public square can be.
Copresented by Hennebery Eddy Architects and Portland Parks Foundation.