A Vision for Old Town


Over this past weekend, Old Town business owners worked with a coalition of transportation activists and community organizers known as Better Block PDX put on an impressive demonstration of how a redesign of NW/SW 3rd Ave in Portland could radically change the character of the neighborhood. Third Ave usually handles three lanes of southbound traffic and two lanes of parking. But for three days, car traffic was limited to a single lane, cyclists could ride side-by-side in a protected lane, and people could eat, socialize and enjoy the city in space usually reserved for the storage of private vehicles.


Fat Pencil Studio was pleased to be able to participate in this project by helping facilitate the design process. We created a digital 3d model of the project area, and worked with stakeholders to test ideas and visualize impacts. The model was then used to create diagrams for permitting and publicity images to promote the event.

By all accounts the project was a big success. Portland (from passersby to tourists to the mayor–see below!) got a clear view of what a more vibrant Old Town might look like. Sure, at peak commuting times, the auto traffic was lined up for the length of the project. It seems like this issue could be mitigated with appropriate signal timing, and/or alternate routes. The improvements that were shown in terms of comfortable bike access (which doesn’t exist at all along the N-S axis through downtown), pedestrian activity and overall street vitality were unmistakeable. Congratulations to Better Block PDX for mobilizing an incredible volunteer effort to bring it to fruition!

Read more about the project and see more photos on BikePortland and Oregonlive.

Thanks to Greg Raisman for these great shots:

Ady Leverette was a designer and a principal at Fat Pencil Studio between 2011 and 2018.