Congress Square Park Design Charettes at Think Tank!

Posted Thursday, October 13, 2016 by in Portland, workshops, events, ideation, community

Key image for: Congress Square Park Design Charettes at Think Tank!

Remember back, like two years ago, when the city tried to sell Congress Square Park to an out of state developer... for like no money.... and pretty much everyone freaked right out and fought to keep it public?  Yup. That was awesome.  Go Portland. 

Well since then, the park has seen amazing revitalization.  It's pretty much a case study of civic engagement and urban revitalization.  The park now has loads of cool programming and activities and Think Tank has been a big fan and supporter of all that. However, the fundamental design of the park is still terrible.  Let's face it.  The park is literally a "depression" in the earth.  Classic 70's brutalistic architecture - lots of boring concrete and poor "flow" for pedestrians.

Hence, the Friends of Congress Square Park - the awesome people who led the initiative to save it in the first place - have arranged to hire a real life design team and public artist to transform the park further. As part of this public process, the group held yet another public forum and Think Tank was honored to host the 3-Day Congress Square Park Design Charette (that's a fancy French word for workshop).

This three-day charette allowed the public to participate in the design process alongside the design team, artists, and public officials, including Mayor Strimling.  On Tuesday, October 4th, the design team, WRT, presented their initial findings and approaches to the redesign: accessibility, connectivity & identity.  On Wednesday, Think Tank hosted a brown bag lunch session with the Artist Sarah Sze's team.  Then at the final open house on Thursday evening, the design team shared their concepts and preliminary plans for the park - shaped in part by the public feedback. 

The take away: Lots more greenery and a much more inclusive and dynamic park.  Better shape and character.  Better opportunities for programming, events, food trucks, and an alfresco urban experience. The charette was also a great opportunity to showcase how fun participatory design can be.  Think Tank was proud to take part in shaping our collective urban experience.

Special thanks to the Friends of Congress Square Park team who organized the events - especially Bree LaCasse and Caitlin Cameron.

Pat, Think Tank with Bree LaCasse, Friends of Congress Square and Mayor Ethan Strimling.

A sketch by the design team based on public feedback.

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