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CNU 2009 Transportation Summit Tour: Examine Portland's Presidential Design Awarded Transit Mall! | Congress for the New Urbanism

CNU 2009 Transportation Summit Tour: Examine Portland's Presidential Design Awarded Transit Mall!

nathan.ziccarelli's picture

In 1977 the Portland Transit Mall was the first Portland structure to receive national and international recognition for design excellence since Pietro Belluschi’s 1948 Equitable building. As the recipient of the Presidential Design Award for Excellence, it demonstrated nationally that transit and a healthy, inviting, and economically strong urban community were natural partners. Visit our online Summit Tours web page to get a list of other tours taking place simultaneously so you may register before early registration rates end October 15th!

The original Portland Transit Mall set a standard for which there were no precedents. In the 70’s Portland removed one waterfront freeway and decided not to build two funded Interstates and focused instead on public transportation. The original Portland Transit Mall was intended to boost transit use by focusing the region’s bus system exclusively on 5th and 6th avenues, thereby giving buses an uncongested route through downtown and offering optimum convenience for transferring passengers. When the Mall opened in 1978 it featured broad, brick sidewalks, a continuous canopy of trees, and carefully crafted pedestrian and transit amenities. Within a decade the Mall couplet was supporting over 180 buses per peak hour and downtown traffic congestion lessened while access improved.

After serving as a national example of urban vitality and transit innovation for more than 25 years, the Portland Mall began showing its age with deteriorating facilities and growing maintenance costs. 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 accommodating new light rail transit, high capacity bus, automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

The design and construction of the Mall has spurred private investment in street-level building improvements. Paving, lighting, planting and street furniture are designed in a cohesive way that acknowledges the unique character of different downtown neighborhoods it serves. New shelters are equipped with solar-powered LED lighting units and feature real-time arrival information displays. Yet the Mall’s configuration is designed not only to apply current technologies to projected demands and desires, but to do so in a manner that will accommodate modes and activities that do not exist today but may evolve over the next century.
The Mall Revitalization Project’s statistics are impressive:

Modes: It serves, light rail, buses, pedestrians, bicycles and autos – all in 80 feet of right-of-way.•
Scale: It now encompasses 57 blocks and 116 block faces.•
Costs: Capital construction costs were approximately $150 million.•
Redevelopment: Recent private redevelopment represents $1.5 billion.•

Step outside of the Nines Hotel where a discounted number of rooms are reserved for CNU Summit attendees, and see firsthand the internationally-renowned Portland transit mall, as described by the people who were involved in its conception, original design and its most recent incarnation.

The tour will be led by Greg Baldwin, FAIA, Principal, ZGF; Brian McCarter, FASLA, AICP, Principal, and Tad Savinar, urban design consultant.

Check here for more details on the 2009 Portland Transportation Summit.

See you in Portland!

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