Portland’s South Waterfront district was an overlooked tract of land sitting quietly by the Willamette River. It also happened to be very close to the city’s core and two major universities. Where many people saw a brownfield, we saw something else. We saw the opportunity to create a riverside neighborhood from scratch.


We saw a tranquil overlook of the river, a nearby wildlife sanctuary, and dramatic views of the Cascade Mountains. This area called for the thoughtful creation of an entirely new neighborhood. This new pedestrian-oriented community will come alive by a layered composition of neighborhood magnets. Magnets are strategically placed to move people along the sidewalks and give everyone an urban adventure.


The South Waterfront is a place where sustainable design will shape the urbanscape, with artistic storm water management, eco-roofs, building placement to maximize solar access, and reliance on mass transit. Water is everywhere.


Streets are designed to encourage social encounters and entice people to wander through the district. Street edges and spaces are orchestrated to make the walking experience dynamic and enjoyable. Each street has its own character and builds urban vitality and diversity.


Retail and cafes were built into the plan after magnets, building uses, parking and transportation stops were established. Streets were given individual identities. Then retail was sewn in to take advantage of the circulation patterns. Retail was programmed to service residents and workers in the district and the adjacent university campus, and to attract people from outside the district.


Buildings are designed to maximize human activity on the street, using the ground, second and third floors to make the streets vibrant. Structures are envisioned as parts of the whole — neighboring buildings relate to each other — and contribute to the character of each street. Existing forms and materials from the site are used to add richness.


The South Waterfront was designed to be accessible. Transportation — specifically public transportation — was an important component of the plan. Streetcar routes and an aerial tram were incorporated to offer every possible opportunity to approach this new addition to the city of Portland.


The greenway park along the river’s edge is the primary focus of the project. The urban section opens up to the park through cafes, health clubs and public spaces. Sustainable design, wildlife habitat and a wide variety of settings and activities will give people a place to relax and socialize.


Portland’s South Waterfront has transformed from brownfield to neighborhood. Such things don’t happen by accident. Deliberate consideration of every component has guaranteed that the city’s newest community will be one of its finest achievements.


South Waterfront won an AIA Special Citation for design excellence.


Living City Book



Blue Book

Sketch Plans




South Park

Crane Tower

Water Tower