The Green Loop is a concept for a continuous six-mile loop of active transportation and place-making infrastructure that would connect the east and west sides of central Portland. The concept has been around for a few years, but recently the John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape in partnership with Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability sponsored a design competition seeking ideas for how to implement it, and strategies for how to communicate its potential to the city at large. We believe strongly in the importance of urban projects like this, so we decided to push a bit beyond our usual workflows and create an entry.
Portland never seems to be short of great ideas like the Green Loop, but it’s always a challenge moving from dream to reality. So our proposal is for two strategies that would help create the necessary broad coalition of stakeholders to support the implementation of the Green Loop over the many years (decades?) that it is likely to take:
The first strategy is for implementation. Design Thinking is a set of tactics and interactive visual tools that empower stakeholders and lead to coherent, efficient design outcomes. We proposed three such tactics for the Green Loop:
A Design Guide that presents key background info and a coherent design vision in a single, easy-to-understand reference. Here’s a sample spread that describes our idea for an InfoHub Kiosk:
A 3d Resource Model that is an accurate and comprehensive resource to track implementation progress and rapidly visualize new ideas. Here’s what the model looks like:
and Live Design, real-time manipulation of 3d models that allows EVERYONE to understand physical context and proposed ideas from multiple perspectives. This technique is effective in numerous settings:
The second strategy is for funding. District Energy is a local, extremely efficient power production method that results in dramatic energy cost savings. These savings could then be used to finance the surface-level improvements of the Green Loop.
These strategies might seem disparate, but the idea is that they work together to inspire people in both the short- and long-term. Funding and implementation go hand-in-hand not just because pavement and plants and labor cost money. There is a critical synergy between the creative energy that can be marshaled in the short-term and the belief that a project is feasible and culturally supported in the long-term.
If a long-term funding model supports a strong cultural vision, then the question shifts from whether the Green Loop should be built to how it should be built. And if an elegant, integrated implementation process is accessible to designers and stakeholders alike, cultural momentum can build quickly to support the rationale of the funding model. Thus the two strategies work together to inspire the present and seed the future.
The vision drives an investment. The savings sustain the vision.
If you’d like to read our entire entry, you can view it here.
Congratulations to the finalist teams who will be presenting on April 18 as part of Design Week Portland. Above all, we hope that the Green Loop will be come a reality soon!