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Have a passion for architecture, development and public spaces? Consider joining the Portland Design Commission.

News Article
This photo depicts members of the Portland Design Commission listening to testimony at a public hearing.
The City of Portland is seeking applications for two upcoming openings, each for a four-year term, on the Design Commission. Persons of color are encouraged to apply.
In this article

Purpose and roles of the Portland Design Commission

The Design Commission provides leadership and expertise on urban design and architecture in design overlay zones throughout the City of Portland. It supports development that builds on context, contributes to the public realm, and provides high-quality and resilient buildings and public spaces. It also helps develop design guidelines for design districts and provides advice to other City bureaus and regional government partners.

Commission activities include:

  1. Reviewing major developments within Design overlay zones;
  2. Recommending the establishment, amendment, or removal of the Design overlay zone and design districts to the Planning and Sustainability Commission;
  3. Recommending design guidelines for adoption by City Council except for guidelines for Historic Districts and Conservation Districts;
  4. Reviewing other land use requests assigned to the Design Commission; and
  5. Providing advice on design matters to the Hearings Officer, Planning Commission, Historic Landmarks Commission, Prosper Portland Commission, City Council, and other City bureaus or public agencies when necessary or requested.


To be eligible to serve on the Design Commission, members must live, play, worship, work or do business in the City of Portland.

The Design Commission consists of seven members, none of whom may hold elective office. The Commission must include: a representative of the Regional Arts and Culture Council, one person representing the public at-large, and five members experienced in either urban planning, design, architecture, landscape architecture, natural resource management, sustainable building practices or land development. No more than two members may be appointed from any one of these areas of expertise.

The Regional Arts and Culture Council member is nominated by the Regional Arts and Culture Council chair and approved by the Mayor. The other members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The term shall be four years, limited to a maximum of two consecutive full terms.

This is an open recruitment, and the City is seeking applications from interested urban planning, design, architecture, landscape architecture, natural resource management, sustainable building practices or land development professionals. One position will be open as of March 15, 2024. The other position will be open as of Nov. 2, 2024.

Desired attributes

We want people from every part of Portland here to share their voices on this committee, especially people who have not been involved before. If you want to serve your community and to help government make better choices, then we want to see your application. The attributes listed below are what will guide our selection process. It is helpful to be specific in your answers. We do not expect you to be or have everything listed.

  • You believe in the value of public participation in government processes.
  • You are an advocate for racial equity: you want positive and long-lasting outcomes for racial and ethnic communities who have been left out before.
  • You can work collaboratively and effectively with people representing diverse interests.
  • You are available to attend all meetings and participate in the discussions.
  • You want to work collaboratively with applicants and agencies to serve the public good.
  • You can share opinions respectfully.

Terms and time commitment

  • The Design Commission traditionally meets on the first and third Thursday of each month, beginning at 1:30 p.m., virtually via a Zoom webinar platform. Most meetings last between four and six hours each. Sometimes a third meeting is scheduled each month due to volume.
  • Members serve a term of four years.
  • Members are expected to prepare for meetings on their own time and arrive ready to discuss agenda items. Meeting materials for review are typically sent one week in advance.

We remove barriers

Please let us know if there are barriers to your participation. When in-person meetings resume, parking validation will be available for the parking garage at 1900 SW 4th Avenue.

Volunteer ethics

Those who serve on this advisory body are considered to be public officials, which means that you must serve fairly and ethically. We will provide training on this once you are appointed. Part of following Oregon’s government ethics laws means you must tell the group when you or a relative may financially benefit (or avoid fees) by your recommendations. This is called a “conflict of interest.” If you tell us about potential conflicts of Interest that does not mean you cannot serve. In fact, many committees have potential members with conflicts of interest. We appreciate your inclusion of possible conflicts of interest on the form included with the application.

Application process

This recruitment is for two positions, the first of which will become available in March 2024, and the other will position will be vacant as of November 2024. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and will be considered for either position.

Please apply for appointment to the Design Commission here.

To talk with someone about this opportunity or to receive assistance completing the application, please contact the staff liaison, Tim Heron, at or 503-823-7726.

Voluntary and confidential demographic information

The City of Portland is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity. It uses the demographic information provided to help ensure that advisory body appointments represent a broad cross-section of community. Your information will not be used during the recruitment or the selection process. State and federal law prohibit use of this information to discriminate against you. The City will treat this information as confidential to the fullest extent allowed by law. Questions about this may be sent to

General questions

For general questions about the City of Portland's Advisory Bodies program, the recruitment process, or other upcoming advisory body opportunities, please email

We encourage you to apply

For more information about the Design Commission, please visit its website.