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Portland Mall Revitalization


Completion Date

September 2009 Size

60 blocks, 1.8 miles, 124 block faces, 200+ fronting businesses and institutions Client

Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) Project Manager

Shiels, Obletz, Johnsen

Architect/Landscape Architect/Urban Designer

ZGF Architects LLP

Artist/Urban Designer

Tad Savinar

Associated Urban Designers/Architects

THA Architects [concept development] SERA [concept development] Hennebery Eddy Architects [south terminus] Engineers

URS LTK KPFF John Knapton Dewhurst McFarlane

Landscape Design/Graphics and Signage

Mayer/Reed

General Contractor

Stacy and Witbeck, Inc. Photographer

Bruce Forster


Portland Mall Revitalization

Already an icon of progressive planning, the Revitalized Portland Mall is significant nationally as a new benchmark in urban design, place-making and transportation infrastructure. Extending the entire length of downtown, it mixes multiple modes of transportation, stimulates adjacent development and re-establishes itself as one of Portland’s premier civic spaces. The original Mall created in 1978 was deteriorating after years of heavy use and diminishing public maintenance funding. To reverse this decline and accommodate a projected 1 million new residents by 2030, TriMet in partnership with the City of Portland, Metro, the Portland Business Alliance and ZGF Architects, teamed up to create a vision for the Mall as a Great

Street. After more than a decade of process, design and construction, when the Mall reopened it was complemented by two major hotel redevelopments, national retail openings, over 40 local storefront renovations, and several institutional projects. As the spine of the city, it is now a place everyone wants to be. The Revitalized Mall combines design character, aspirations, active context, operations and management of a truly great street for the 21st century.


Historical Background

Since 1978, the award-winning design of the Portland Mall, has served as a model of urban design and transportation innovation as well as the symbol of the heart of a region known for its progressive planning and development achievements. In the late 1960’s, Portland’s leaders took the proactive step of formulating a long-range vision for Portland’s downtown that called for key public investments to strengthen and redevelop the central city as the single heart of the region. As the first of three major public improvements called for in the 1972 Downtown Plan, the original Portland Mall was intended to boost transit use by focusing the region’s bus system exclusively on 5th and 6th avenues, thereby giving buses an un-congested route through downtown and offering optimum convenience for transferring passengers. When the Mall opened in 1978, it featured broad, brick sidewalks, granite curbs, a continuous canopy of trees, and carefully crafted pedestrian and transit amenities. Within six years, the Mall couplet was supporting more than 180 buses per peak hour and while downtown traffic congestion lessened and access improved.

However, after serving as a national example for more than 25 years, the Portland Mall began showing its age. One detriment that became increasingly difficult to overcome was the institutional framework under which the original project was conceived. Like other major transportation projects of the 1970’s era of urban design, the Portland Mall was constructed with 80 percent federal and 20 percent local funding. While seeming a bonanza for local communities, this lopsided split engendered very little local support. At the time, some businesses didn’t see the inherent benefit the project would bring and thus didn’t support its implementation. In subsequent years, resources for management, security and maintenance were limited to City and transit agency budgets which, not surprisingly, were inadequate to keep the streets in good shape. Hence, a cycle of deterioration set in, repairs were delayed, poor detailing or construction turned into physical failure and the Mall came to be viewed as uninviting.

During the 1980-90’s, Portland embarked on an aggressive period of regional transit expansion tied to long range land use plans. Three major light rail corridors, emanating from downtown, extended into the inner city neighborhoods and distant suburban communities. All these pieces of infrastructure intentionally built on the concept of downtown as the center with the highest level of modal access. All three lines used an alignment on a pair of centrally located east-west streets that complemented transit service already on the Portland Mall. Notably, planners already envisioned a day when service on the Portland Mall would be expanded to include light rail. In preparation, the Mall was extended seven blocks north in 1994, into the Old Town/China Town neighborhood to bring public improvements to an area struggling for its identity and to link city transit to interstate rail and bus passenger services at Union Station.

To address the Mall’s decay and an expected 1 million new residents by 2030, TriMet (the region’s transit provider) in partnership with the City of Portland, Metro (regional government) and the Portland Business Alliance, teamed to develop a vision for the Mall as a Great Street. The intent was to accommodate multiple transportation modes, provide a focus for new development and strengthen the transit nexus for the region, 5th and 6th Avenues, as structuring elements in Portland’s downtown urban form.

Mall Revitalization

Affecting 116 block faces and adding light rail service, 45 new transit shelters, art, renovated or new furnishings, signs and signals to a busy downtown core, the Portland Mall Revitalization Project was designed to address a variety of challenges. The project has renovated or re-built 58 blocks and 59 intersections through the heart of downtown Portland while


providing exclusive transit lanes for bus and light rail, a dedicated travel lane for autos and bikes, limited parking and loading zones, and enhanced sidewalks for pedestrians. With a project value of $220 million, it is the largest public works project in downtown Portland’s history and is currently the largest surface transit project of its kind in the country.

Design Innovations • Renovated

brick and granite sidewalks: Extensive research and contractor collaboration was invested in developing protocols and methods for removal, replacement and cosmetic repair of granite curbs, as well as rehabilitation standards for in situ brick sidewalk cleaning, replacement, waterproofing and crack repair. In sum, 40 blocks of mortar-set paving were re-grouted, re-jointed, re-sealed and repaired using best industry practices adapted to unique circumstances of existing conditions. • Flexible-set brick pavers: Mortar-set brick pavers at the original Mall intersections had failed with regularity over the years. As maintenance budgets decreased, incidents of failure increased until the entire paving system was perceived as a failure. The Design Team led an extensive research and design effort to identify a paving system that met long-term maintenance and performance objectives while also providing the refinement and material quality of the original Mall. This effort resulted in a highly engineered and detailed, flexible-set, unit paving system that was installed at 33 intersections in the heart of the project. Special pure-silica sand, made for the glass industry, provides the long endurance setting bed, supporting special heavy, traffic-rated brick pavers in an interlocking pattern. A renowned engineer from England served as flexible pavement designer in consultation with the Portland Department of Transportation. • Improved Transit Shelters: Original Mall shelters were designed to provide a complete refuge for

transit patrons in an under-developed downtown. As the central city densified and retailing on the Mall increased, the shelters effectively obscured business owners’ visual and informal management of their storefront, and sidewalk and bus stops developed a security issue. The Design Team led the design and eventual design/build contract for new, highly transparent, glazed shelters. The minimal nature of their innovative structural system allows for a seamless transit and retail environment, each supporting the other. A family of integrated seating, leaning and screening elements was developed and installed independent of the overhead structure in response to microclimate, transit operations and adjacent business needs. • Passenger Amenities: Transit Tracker, a real-time electric display indicating the scheduled arrival of the next bus or train, is installed in all transit shelters, allowing riders more information on when to arrive at stations and stops. • Overhead Systems: Recognized for its detailed refinement and sophisticated simplicity, the original Mall set a high standard for the resolution and quality of new fixtures required with the addition of integrated light rail and high capacity bus operations. The urban designers led the interdisciplinary design team to consolidate all pedestrian and traffic signals and signage, rail signalization and safety systems, street lighting and overhead power systems into single, integrated poles and support wires. Along with permitted attachments to historic buildings, these joint-use poles significantly reduced the number of poles per block, eliminating cost and obstacles to the pedestrian environment. • Light Technology: Traffic signals use new-generation LED light technology for lower energy use and longer lamp life. • Improved Street Lighting: Portland’s traditional ornamental street lights have been retrofitted with new QL induction lamps – reducing energy use and producing a whiter, truer light quality.


Sustainable Design Features • Stormwater Treatment: The new southern extension includes 18 blocks that intercept sidewalk runoff with pervious, gravel-set brick pavers or continuous planting in their furnishing zones to intercept sidewalk storm water. Five blocks in the new segment collect and cleanse street runoff through sidewalk, landscaped, flow-through planters. • Material Reuse: Original granite curbs were preserved, re-cut and re-used or salvaged for future repair stock; unusable pieces were ground into granite aggregate and used for repair patching of usable granite pieces. A new public art sculpture was constructed from granite salvaged from a retired sidewalk fountain.

Operational Complexity

Accommodating all modes of transport without compromise, in the most complex traffic/transit street in the U.S. One of the hallmarks of the Portland Mall has always been its surprising trip capacity. The Revitalized Mall re-establishes Portland as a transportation innovator – it is the first North American city to mix light rail and buses at significant volumes in a single corridor: 78 buses and 10 trains per hour in the afternoon peak. TriMet studied the mixed transit operation extensively with computer modeling and yard testing and created a new driving protocol for safe operation in the Mall environment. Person-trip-carrying capacity has significantly increased for the Mall with the addition of light rail. In the original Mall, bus operations were continuous while adjacent automobile and bike traffic were interrupted for one block every four blocks. Now all variety of modes – pedestrians, bicycles, automobiles as well as light rail, high capacity bus and streetcar have been accommodated and supported with continuous access. Particular design attention was expended in

providing an accessible streetscape – with thru-walking zones, bus and rail loading zones, all-flush corners and tactile warning strips. All furnishings, shelters and amenities were designed for the full-spectrum of abilities.

Stimulating Investment

Creating an environment that supports the health and future of neighborhood activities and developments, sparking $1.5 billion in private sector development and revitalization. The project goals themselves dictated that merely expanding transit infrastructure and adding light rail was insufficient to ensure the Mall’s full revitalization. Success required the public to “buy into” and support the project, and, in particular, it required the support and investment of the downtown business community and property owners. From its inception, the Portland Mall Revitalization relied on partnership for its existence and success. Intergovernmental partnerships between Metro, TriMet and the City of Portland were matched by partnerships in the private sector among the Portland Business Alliance, Downtown Neighborhood Association and Clean & Safe Local Improvement District (LID). Whereas urban planning has traditionally approached facilities like the Portland Mall as singular entities requiring uniform solutions, design workshops and public feedback made it clear that a micro instead macro approach was needed to ensure this project’s ultimate success. A critical component of this effort was a detailed mapping and assessment of abutting street-level conditions, imminent development projects, day and night activity nodes, prominent pedestrian routes and other existing or planned features within the influence area of the Mall. When compared with transit station and stop locations, this not only informed design decisions for elements in the street, it also identified targeted areas for strategic intervention with abutting development.


TriMet and its partners then embarked on an outreach support program for downtown businesses and retailers that included design and permitting assistance and low-interest loans and grants, called the BBB or Block-by-Block Program. Dozens of businesses were assisted through the program to secure enhancements to private property that would promote sidewalk activation – new, improved transparency, signage, lighting, outdoor café seating, etc. – thanks to an effort at “mining” small improvements by the Design Team and the Portland Development Commission. In addition, the design team spearheaded the design/build contract for new, high-transparent, glazed shelters that allowed much-improved visibility of retail storefronts (as the original shelters obscured views). When the Mall reopened in September 2009, it was complemented by $1.5 in private investment on or near the Mall. This represents more reinvestment than Portland’s downtown core had seen in two decades.

Private Stewardship

Establishing a place that attracts and secures the permanent stewardship of abutting businesses and property owners, a 501C3 management entity ensures quality. The Mall has traditionally served as Portland’s prime downtown streets – as reflected in current vision and zoning plans that call for the greatest density and building height along 5th and 6th avenues. It was critically important in the Revitalization project to maintain the Mall’s status as a premier address. One of the greatest shortcomings of the original 1978 project was the lack of local support and funding. Based on this learning, the Mall Revitalization Project formed a partnership with the business and property owner community at inception. The private sector’s earliest demand for their support of the project was to be assured that the renovated and new facilities of the Mall would be kept in excel-

lent condition in the future. Natural prerequisites were to preserve quality, correct design deficiencies, build for longevity and incorporate technological advances where possible. In the 29 years of the Portland Mall’s life from original construction to revitalization, many lessons were learned regarding maintenance of materials and fixtures, improved technical design and successful use of public space. The Citizens Advisory Committee was eventually augmented by the formation of a 501c3 non-profit corporation, named Portland Mall Management Inc. Its charge is to consolidate public annual maintenance allowances with new dedicated private funds from a Local Improvement District, created and approved in 2006, for the purpose of managing, maintaining and programming for the Mall in perpetuity. This entity will have oversight for upkeep of the Mall’s physical plant so that its current investment yields many years of service to the public and property owners. This plan is modeled after similar programs in New York, Denver and Chicago.


YELLOW LINE

W

AMTRAK TO SEATTLE

ILL

TO EXPO CENTER

AM ET TE RIV ER

PEARL DISTRICT

STREETCAR

TO AIRPORT /GRESHAM

6TH AVE.

RO

PROPOSED STREETCAR LOOP PROJECT

RETAIL CORE

RTLA

ND

BLU EA ND TO RED BEA LIN VER ES TON /H ILLS BO

LL

ST.

MA

E BURNSID E

5TH AVE.

NW IRVING ST.

UNION STATION

PO

GOOSE HOLLOW

UNIVERSITY DISTRICT PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY 25,000 ENROLLMENT

SW JACKSON ST.

RIVER PLACE

OMSI

PROPOSED LRT LINE TO MILWAUKIE

SOUTH WATERFRONT

TRAM TO OHSU

AMTRAK

TO Transit service on the Portland Mall runs north on 6th Avenue and south on 5th Avenue; bus and light rail lines CALIFORNIA that use the Mall intersect with Amtrak, Greyhound, Portland Streetcar, and additional East-West light rail lines.


The mall encompasses the entrie length of downtown, serving 58 blocks over 1.7 miles of combined length.


LEGEND LRT ALIGNMENT

MALL CORRIDORS

KEY REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY/PLANNED

MALL LRT STATIONS

KEY REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN PLANNING

STREETCAR ALIGNMENT PEDESTRIAN CORRIDORS

KEY OPPORTUNITY SITESNOT CURRENTLY PLANNED

OPEN SPACE

STOREFRONT IMPROVEMENTS

FUTURE PSU ACADEMIC BUILDING NEW PSU HOUSING UNDER CONSTRUCTION

POTENTIAL MIXED-USE REDEVELOPMENT

FOX T

HILTON

TAYLOR

SALMON

MAIN

UNIVERSITY CLUB

MADISON

JEFFERSON

CLAY

COLUMBIA

CITY HALL / MADISON STATION

MARKET

MILL

MONTGOMERY

HARRISON

PSU URBAN CENTER / MILL STATION

HALL

COLLEGE

PSU SOUTH / COLLEGE STATION

TAT

E4 05

6TH AVENUE

IN T

ERS

PSU URBAN CENTER

PACWEST

HIL SU

CITY HALL

SA

5TH AVENUE

PSU SOUTH / JACKSON STATION

FUTURE PSU ACADEMIC BUILDING

FUTURE HOUSING

PSU URBAN CENTER / MONTGOMERY STATION

FUTURE HOUSING/RETAIL/PARKING

FUTURE PSU ACADEMIC/ OFFICE/PARKING

CITY HALL / JEFFERSON STATION

POTENTIAL MIXED-USE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT HOUSING/ SOCIAL SERVICES

NEW PSU ENGINEERING BUILDING

PORTLAND MALL REVITALIZATION PLAN CITY OF PORTLAND - TRI-MET - METRO

The Vision Plan shows the degree to which the Mall Revitalization Project connects several districts across downtown; individual station areas were designed to respond to immediate surroundings and adjacent redevelopment opportunities, while achieving continuity with the rest of the Mall.


POTENTIAL MIXED-USE REDEVELOPMENT STUDY UNDERWAY BY PDC

YT HO N

ETT

BUS TERMINAL

ER VIS

PINE STATION

DA

H

AVE

NU

E

CO

UNION STATION

IRV

BU YT

5TH

AVE

NU

E

ISA

N

6TH AVENUE

6TH

HO

OAK

STARK

RN

ING

SID

E

UC

UNION STATION / HOYT STATION

WASHINGTON

ALDER

MORRISON

YAMHILL

POTENTIAL "GATEWAY" REDEVELOPMENT

GL

S ND

OLD TOWN / DAVIS STATION

EV

PIONEER SQUARE / MORRISON STATION

POTENTIAL "GATEWAY" REDEVELOPMENT PIONEER SQUARE

ISA

6TH AVENUE EXTENSION PLAZA DEVELOPMENT

NORDSTROM

PINE

TOWER

POTENTIAL REDEVELOPMENT

POTENTIAL "GATEWAY" REDEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL MIXED-USE REDEVELOPMENT STUDY UNDERWAY BY PDC

ER

PLAZA REDEVELOPMENT

POTENTIAL REVITALIZATION OF STOREFRONTS AND ENTRANCES AT MEIER & FRANK

FLA

POTENTIAL REVITALIZATION OF MEIER & FRANK BLOCK

S ER ND

OLD TOWN / DAVIS STATION

US BANK PLAZA

BUS TERMINAL

EV

ER

ETT

FLA

MEIER & FRANK

UNION STATION / GLISAN STATION

GL

T

LTON UITES

UNION STATION

IRV

POTENTIAL "GATEWAY" REDEVELOPMENT

ING

UNION STATION / HOYT STATION

PIONEER COURTHOUSE RENOVATION

6TH AVENUE EXTENSION PLAZA DEVELOPMENT

AVE

NU

E

QWEST

EY

VIS DA

H UC CO BU

PIONEER SQUARE / YAMHILL STATION

E

OLD TOWN / COUCH STATION

OAK STATION "FESTIVAL" STREETS DEVELOPMENT

UNION STATION / BURNSIDE-COUCH COUPLET GLISAN STATION IMPROVEMENTS BY

US BANK PLAZA

QWEST

PDC REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT OLDTOWN/CHINATOWN STREETSCAPE PROJECT

ANKENY "STREET OF FOUNTAINS" DEVELOPMENT

OLD TOWN / COUCH STATION

N- OPTION B

POTENTIAL INFILL DEVELOPMENT

K STATION

400

PDC REDEVELOPMENT STREETCAR ALIGNMENT PROJECT

MALL CORRIDORS

KEY REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY/PLANNED

MALL LRT STATIONS

KEY REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN PLANNING

PEDESTRIAN CORRIDORS

OLDTOWN/CHINATOWN STREETSCAPE PROJECT

KEY OPPORTUNITY SITESNOT CURRENTLY PLANNED

OPEN SPACE

STOREFRONT IMPROVEMENTS

0

100

200

300

SHIELS OBLETZ JOHNSEN ZIMMER GUNSUL FRASCA PARTNERSHIP

400

FUTURE PSU ACADEMIC BUILDING NEW PSU HOUSING UNDER CONSTRUCTION

HARRISON

PSU URBAN CENTER / MILL STATION

HALL

COLLEGE

PSU SOUTH / COLLEGE STATION

6TH AVENUE E4 05

ANKENY "STREET OF FOUNTAINS" DEVELOPMENT

300

POTENTIAL INFILL REDEVELOPMENT

LRT ALIGNMENT

TAT

POTENTIAL "GATEWAY" REDEVELOPMENT

200

LEGEND

POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT MIXED-USE

ERS

ELOPMENT BLOCK

BURNSIDE-COUCH COUPLET IMPROVEMENTS BY CITY OF PORTLAND

100

SHIELS OBLETZ JOHNSEN ZIMMER GUNSUL FRASCA PARTNERSHIP

IN T

POTENTIAL STOREFRONT IMPROVEMENT

0

"FESTIVAL" STREETS DEVELOPMENT

MARKET

EY

POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT MIXED-USE

POTENTIAL "GATEWAY" REDEVELOPMENT

POTENTIAL REDEVELOPMENT OF FOOD VENDOR BLOCK

POTENTIAL STOREFRONT REVITALIZATION

POTENTIAL INFILL REDEVELOPMENT

CITY OF PORTLAND

POTENTIAL STOREFRONT IMPROVEMENT

EN ANK

POTENTIAL INFILL DEVELOPMENT

MILL

PINE

A 5TH

U VEN

MONTGOMERY

E

6TH

RN

AKS

SID

PIONEER PLACE

EN ANK

5TH AVENUE

E STATION

PSU URBAN CENTER 5TH AVENUE


Fifth Avenue on the central Mall shows the rich interaction of urban street life and transit in the heart of the city. New shelters, signage, furnishings and street lights are all set within existing trees and renovated sidewalks.


Portland’s temperate climate called for shelters that would transmit light and include an integral rain gutter.


The Mall successfully accommodates buses, light rail, streetcar, autos and bicycles – but the space is prioritized for the pedestrian through the use of a highly-engineered design for flexible-set brick pavers, allowing continuity of the pedestrian streetscape at intersections.


before

Prior to the revitalization project, many elements of the Mall and its adjacent buildings suffered from disrepair and disinvestment; as a result, it took on the reputation of an uninviting place.


after

Today this same block has a newly-renovated Marriott Hotel with a street-level restaurant as well as a new shelter, public art and transit furnishings.


Other properties, like this Modera Hotel, were redeveloped and renovated to have landscape elements that engage the Mall’s streetscape design.


The new shelters were designed for transparency to maintain open views to retail storefronts and shops.


As Portland’s street life has matured since the original Mall, its transit environment has been re-invented to be seamless with overall public space. Studies indicated a variety of ways people wait for transit – stand, lean, perch, sit – all are accommodated here.


Special paving treatments in the roadway help visually connect historic Pioneer Courthouse with its namesake plaza, Pioneer Courthouse Square (right of photo).


Drivers are given a material reminder at each intersection that the Mall is pedstrain space.


New shelter architecture was deliberately designed for openness; LED lighting is incorporated into column cladding and ridge beam for enhanced night use.


A comprehensive system of graphic and written information unifies the transit system environment for all users at Mall bus stops and light rail stations.


New signal cabinets combine vehicular and pedestrian signals into a clean, integrated pole – eliminating the clutter of multiple poles at corners. Countdown and audible sounds provide enhanced safety for all users.


The Mall’s original 50 benches were salvaged, renovated with certified hardwood, stronger bracing and stainless steel armrests – offering respite for commuters and visitors alike.


As part of the sustainability strategy, new blocks in the South Mall extension were developed with bioswales to cleanse street runoff through inlets/outlets.


Portland pioneered low-floor, light rail in North America two decades ago. The NW 5th/Couch station benefits from the direct interaction of retail and station activity in comfortable proximity. Stainless steel Mall furnishings include abundant and high-quality bike parking, located conveniently at building entrances, leaving the pedestrian through-zone clear.


Design and construction of the Mall preserved as many existing trees as possible, while providing new Mall elements that complement existing public and private improvements, such as this flowerbed.


The revitalized Mall re-establishes Portland as a transit innovator – providing a high-quality civic space that successfully mixes multiple modes of transportation and promotes urban vitality.


Benches and original bronze panel shelters were frequently damage or vandalized, making them prohibitively expensive to maintain. The disintegrated brick pavers represent the deterioration of the Mall through the years. Adding light rail infrastructure to an existing urban transitway while preserving high-quality features, required a highly-orchestrated construction schedule. Streets were completed in three block intersections at a time, which kept the city open for business.


The revitalized Mall re-establishes Portland as a transit innovator – it is the first North American city to mix light rail and buses at significant volumes in a single corridor: 78 buses and 10 trains per hour in the afternoon peak.


Portland Mall Revitalization  

Already an icon of progressive planning, the Revitalized Portland Mall is significant nationally as a new benchmark in urban design, place-m...

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