Water Avenue Yards

Water Avenue Yards

Portland, OR

The City of Portland is growing rapidly. New buildings are rising throughout the city, not all of them thoughtful or enduring. We are interested in how redevelopment will change the character of the longstanding industrial area at the center of the city. Can it continue to thrive as a place for makers and doers and start-ups? What will industry look like in the 21st century? As Portland awakens to the value of the Willamette River as a place of beauty, recreation and nature can we strengthen and facilitate access? We decided to explore these issues through a pro-bono Design Research project.

The site is three vacant blocks, forming the biggest undeveloped land parcel near the city core. One of the few places the public can access the river on the central eastside, our proposal re-envisions these three blocks together with the space below the I-5 freeway underpass as a place of production, recreation and gathering extending from Water Avenue to the river.

While the three blocks will be developed by private interests, the land below the I-5 freeway is publicly owned, as is the riverbank parkway. We envision a strategy that leverages public investment and private development to create an integrated and diverse place serving all of Portland. The result is a unique environment that provides space for creation and industry while inviting public use and interaction. These uses can support one another in a way that is uniquely Portland. Because the first step in making something happen is imagining what might be possible.

Click here to check out our Water Avenue Yards micro-site for a deep dive into Bora’s research and design process on this project.