Portland's Urban Design team

A 3d aerial rendering of central Portland
The Urban Design team works with the community and agency partners to explore citywide design issues and opportunities within the built environment.

Our mission is to advance the design quality of places citywide. We translate visions and ideas into policy, objectives, guidelines, and projects to forward community-supported design. Our practice builds upon Portland’s unique setting and history, its special places and its changing population, to enrich the quality, health and livability of the city.

We do this by developing concepts and ideas to illustrate future physical changes as Portland continues to grow, using visual and graphic technologies to envision and communicate a variety of experiences with the public.

The Urban Design team implements the following design principles in all of our work:

  • Make places for people: Develop a wide range of distinctive places that support the health and well-being of people and communities.
  • Strengthen connections: Link places with safe, direct connections and a welcoming public realm.
  • Enhance what already is there: Strengthen existing assets and sensitively integrate new development that honors geographic, historic and cultural identity.
  • Embrace the future: Create new places within the urban fabric that offer contemporary uses, forms, buildings and experiences.
  • Lead by example: Foster Portland’s international identity as a premier green city, where vibrant, healthy districts contribute to its resilience.
  • Make it happen: Create big picture visions for the future of Portland’s places, while offering smaller scale strategies and partnerships for near-term implementation.

To advance quality design citywide, the Urban Design team:

  • Leads and facilitates community design workshops for the community.
  • Explores and develops potential design approaches with collaborators.
  • Creates urban design concepts and policy direction.
  • Produces design guidelines.
  • Assists and advises planning projects throughout the city.
  • Engages design professionals, institutions, and community groups.
  • Applies visual and graphic technology to illustrate and communicate concepts.

Recent work by the Urban Design team includes a major update to the City's design guidelines (DOZA), the West Portland Town Center plan, and the Lower SE Rising area plan. Perhaps the most notable recent achievement by the Urban Design team is the Green Loop, which proposes a continuous pedestrian and bike path around the Willamette River, the route chosen by Sunday Parkways in 2108.