Congress Square Park is a central part of Portland's arts district and was successfully programmed by local nonprofits in the 1980s and 90s. But in the early 2000s, this ended, as did much of the activity that made the space exciting to visitors. As a result, the City of Portland became interested in selling the site for development. When word of this plan got out, groups like the Friends of Congress Square Park sprung up to help the park live up to its potential. The grassroots group invited Project for Public Spaces to Portland to meet with city leaders and community members about the park's future. Project for Public Spaces convinced locals to try "proactive placemaking," to demonstrate the park's value and potential through "lighter, quicker, cheaper" programming like movies and food trucks.
In 2015, Project for Public Spaces helped expand this transformation and create a place vision for the park, with technical services and implementation made possible by support from the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program. Building on community outreach done by the City, Project for Public Spaces supplied a range of new ideas for programming, like Tai Chi and swing dancing, along with free Wi-Fi and outdoor furniture created by local designers. These changes paved the way for the park to be preserved and used daily once more, rekindling a sense of place in Congress Square Park.
Place Evaluation & User Analysis
Community Engagement & Visioning
Place Plans & Design
Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper
Training & Capacity Building