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ZGF Architects - Portland, Oregon’s Simon & Helen Director Park - Page 3 Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 08:48

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Edited by Lynda Waggoner


Details and Materiality

The entire park was crafted with a minimalist approach that often required intricate detailing to maintain an aesthetically simple-yet-appealing expression. This approach was carried throughout the various means of construction, allowing the quality and the beauty of Director Park’s materials to be showcased. The skill and dedication of the project’s fabricators and craftspeople were integral to the success of this expression.



Building-Face to Building-Face Paving


The piazza extends across SW Park Avenue and SW 9th Avenue and includes the neighboring sidewalks. Variations in the paving pattern help delineate areas of different use. The typical paving assembly utilizes Gobi granite pavers, measuring 3x18x1.25 inches, placed in a modified interpretation of a herringbone pattern. Thicker 4x8-inch units are set in a standard herringbone in the pedestrian pathways and rotated 45 degrees to the direction of travel in the roadway. All granite is sand-set with zero-tolerance joints. While this installation provided initial challenges, it simplifies future work that may need to take place within or below the paving system.

To maintain the singular look of the paving pattern, a variety of inventive details were required for a number of atypical items; namely, fountain jets required angled holes so that arcing water patterns would not be affected, vaults called for thin-set bricks that reduced the load on their access panels, and drainage weirs are spanned with custom grates equipped with spacers that hold the pavers in place. These and other custom details required close collaboration between the designers and the installers.

Stormwater Management/Filtration

At Director Park all stormwater is filtered on-site using natural vegetation to cleanse and reduce the amount of solids entering the river. This process also slow the rate at which the run-off is allowed into the city’s stormwater system. Beginning with the canopy, the low point of the structure supports a continuous stainless steel gutter perforated by a series of cables that act as rain chains directing water to a flow-through planter. Also, the café is topped with an ecoroof consisting of sedums, grasses and sage plants to cleanse run-off before directing it to the storm sewer. In addition, the plaza and the streets use the natural slope of the site to direct run-off to street planters and tree wells for filtration.



In the future, this stormwater may be collected and stored to support the irrigation needs of plants during dry months. Director Park was part of a redevelopment study that looked at improving nearby O’Bryant Square and Ankeny Plaza. One of the recommendations of the study is to store filtered stormwater for all three parks at O’Bryant Square. Director Park was designed to support this recommendation, should it be implemented in the future.

Curbless Streets

Director Park presents one of the first implementations of curbless street design in the City of Portland. The curbless environment physically integrates the streets with the adjacent pedestrian zones. Borders of street trees and stainless steel clad bollards keep motorists and pedestrians from wandering into other zones. For special events, the lack of curbs allows pedestrians and adjacent storefronts to utilize the sidewalk and street as one.



Street Lighting

SW Park and SW 9th streets are the only elements that connect the three open spaces that currently make up the Mid- Town Park Blocks. In an effort to reinforce this connection it was deemed a priority to give them an identity different than that of the typical Portland street. In addition to the unique materials and drainage systems employed at Director Park, street furniture is updated and a new light fixture has been introduced. The new fixture not only provides a visual cue that this block breaks the status quo, but it also offers improved performance not available in the typical light standard currently used on Portland’s streets. The new fixture is more efficient, provides a better quality of light, and reduces pollution of the night sky by eliminating uplight.



Walk-Up Counter

To address the street and support the on-the-move patron, a walk-up counter was included at the southwest corner of the café. To accommodate this function within the vocabulary of the cafe’s architecture, ZGF integrated a custom overhead door. When closed the door is an integral part of the steel-and-glass composition of the facade. When open it becomes an awning that demarcates the counter and provides protection from the rain. Turner Exhibits, with ample experience in designing and fabricating what it terms as “movable architecture,” collaborated with ZGF on the installation of the water-jet cut steel armature powered by electric actuators that rotate and lift a portion of the cafe’s facade.


To encourage alternative modes of transportation and endorse the bike-friendly attitude of Portland, more than 20 bike racks are spread throughout the site. Director Park is also adjacent to a MAX Light Rail stop, making travel to and from Director Park simple for Portland residents and visitors.


Project details and credits:

Owner City of Portland

Architect: ZGF Architects LLP
Landscape Architect: OLIN
Associate Landscape Architect: Mayer/Reed
Contractor: Brant Construction

Completed June 2010

ZGF Architects Design Team
Greg Baldwin Partner-in-Charge, Paddy Tillett Principal Urban Planner, Brian McCarter Landscape Architect, Ron Stewart Project Manager, Mike Speck Project Designer, James McGrath Urban Designer, Mike Perso Designer, Frank Howarth Computer Renderings, Lee Kilbourn Specifications, Carolyn Cook Administrative Assistant

OLIN Design Team
Laurie Olin Partner-in-Charge, Robert Bedell Principal, Bryan Hanes Associate, Tiffany Beamer Landscape Architect, Britton Jones Landscape Architect

Mayer/Reed Design Team
Carol Mayer-Reed Partner-in-Charge, Teresa Chenney Project Manager, Anne Samuel Landscape Architect

Consultant Team
KPFF Consulting Engineers, Inc. Structural and Civil Engineer
SOLARC Architecture & Engineering, Inc. Mechanical and Plumbing Engineer
Interface Engineering, Inc. Electrical Engineer
Benya Lighting Design Lighting Designer
CMS Collaborative, Inc. Fountain Design
Architectural Cost Consultants Cost Estimating
Regional Arts & Culture Council 1% for the Arts Coordinator
Tad Savinar Urban Strategist
Dan Corson Light Art Installation at Underside of Canopy
Turner Exhibits Walk-Up Door
Rinaldi Fabrication Custom Stainless Steel
West Coast Architectural Woodworking Ipe Benches
Schonert and Associates, Inc. Stonework

Eckert & Eckert Photography

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