Why Portland?

April 3, 2018 | | View Comments

As Street Seats rapidly approaches, here’s why there’s nowhere else we’d rather be for this design, urban innovation, and sustainability challenge than Bridgetown!

The City of Portland has a rich history of artists, makers, and manufacturers flourishing alongside major business, academic, and civic institutions. We wanted to share our love of this city with you, and our excitement to celebrate and grow to the rich creative and cultural vibrancy of Portland this summer!

The Competition: Street Seats

Street Seats is an international design challenge which will culminate in an outdoor design exhibition and walking tour around the World Trade Center Portland plaza in Downtown Portland, Oregon. Entrants will participate by designing sustainable outdoor sidewalk furniture with a focus on reuse, using environmentally-friendly materials and innovative construction methods. Design teams will record and submit their process along with their final designs to, in the end, create the public design exhibition.

Participating designers receive international recognition in the design community and visibility with major organizations interested in supporting the arts, design, and urban innovation industries. Every entry will be featured online and in our scale model gallery. Semi-finalists will receive a grant to fabricate their bench, which we’ll install around the World Trade Center Portland plaza and Tom McCall Waterfront Park — and winning entries will receive cash prizes and additional publicity.

The City: Portland, Oregon

Portland is a city defined by its bridges, the Willamette River, and the surrounding natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. With an abundance of rain in the fall, winter, and spring, and a gorgeously radiant summertime, the spirit of Portland shines in the rain or sun. Designers are encouraged to take Portland’s idiosyncratic weather into account when designing their benches. 

The City of Portland was founded on the spirit of independence and self-determination intrinsic to the American West. As Portland continues to grow at an exponential pace, the city is preparing for a residential and tourist increase while striving to maintain its core values in the arts and crafts by “Keep[ing] Portland Weird.”

Portland is a design hub of the Pacific Northwest. Each April Portland is flooded with design enthusiasts from all over the globe for Design Week Portland, a week-long, city-wide series of programs exploring the process, craft, and practice of design across all disciplines. The collectivist spirit of Portland shines in its design community. Institutions like ADX, a makerspace where shared tools, experience, and knowledge help bring projects to fruition. In rain or shine (but mostly rain), Portlanders are always keen to lift others up to achieve their full potential.

 

 The Neighborhood: Downtown Portland

Portland’s modern history was originally laid out by the infamous Robert Moses in 1943. Bridges and highways were designed to criss-cross over the city like a web. While many modifications to his plan have been made throughout the years, Portland retains its industrial aesthetic.

Downtown Portland is the epicenter of tall buildings, short blocks, and green architecture in Oregon. The center of civic and business life, it also home to some of Portland’s most storied cultural institutions, like the Portland Art Museum, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and the Oregon Historical Society. Downtown Portland is the prime location for any major cultural event in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

The Site: World Trade Center Portland

The World Trade Center Portland is nestled into the historic downtown district, surrounded by brick sidewalks, iconic gold water fountains, and ample coniferous foliage. One of Portland’s architectural icons, it overlooks the Willamette River and Tom McCall Waterfront Park. In the summer, the Waterfront Park is full of visitors and locals alike, all enjoying the verdant landscape together as a light breeze wafts across the Willamette.

Completed in 1977, World Trade Center Portland is a three-building office complex, connected by a glass-enclosed, elevated walkway that lead visitors from one building to the next as they walk over the streets of Downtown Portland. The facade of the modernist-style buildings is clad in gray-colored granite and glass. Soaring, robust, and industrial, the World Trade Center Portland is a perfect aesthetic complement to the city who’s name it bears.

In 2017, Forbes listed the Portland metro area as the ninth fastest-growing in the United States. With this growth comes a host of social, economic, and environmental changes, problems, and opportunities – all of which Portland is well positioned to address through design.  While Downtown Portland’s growth is leading to increased construction to welcome the influx of people, there is a significant lack of visual placemaking and community engagement stimulation to reflect the area’s vibrancy.

Join this unique city’s flourishing design community

Portland continues to be such a world-renowned thought leader because of the risk takers and innovators who are continuously striving to improve the city. Join us in celebrating and contributing to the rich cultural vibrancy of Portland by applying to Street Seats!


About Street Seats

Street Seats is an international design challenge which will culminate in an outdoor design exhibition and walking tour around the World Trade Center Portland plaza in Downtown Portland, Oregon. Entrants will participate by designing sustainable outdoor sidewalk furniture with a focus on reuse, using environmentally-friendly materials and innovative construction methods. Design teams will record and submit their process along with their final designs to, in the end, create the public design exhibition.

For more information on the Street Seats design challenge, visit the competition website!