Walking Tours

On Sunday, May 20, we will be offering four walking tours downtown. View descriptions
On Thursday, May 24, we will be offering an additional three tours to neighborhoods. View descriptions

Information on how to sign up for the walking tours will be sent directly to conference partipants.


Ecoroofs in Portland

Sunday, May 20, 2.30 – 4.00pm

Tour leader: Amy Chomowicz, Environmental Services, City of Portland

EcoroofsRooftops are an untapped resource of open space, biodiversity, and visual aesthetics. Converting gray rooftops to green oases provides green spaces for people and habitat for wildlife, reduces the urban heat island, and increases stormwater management, air quality, and job opportunities.

Portland’s ecoroof program began in 1996 with an experimental ecoroof built on a city employee’s garage. In 2008 the program expanded with the introduction of Grey to Green, Portland’s initiative to bring more sustainable, watershed protection measures into the city. Today there are more than 290 ecoroofs covering 13.8 acres. Portland’s ecoroof program consists of a financial incentive, educational resources, and policies that promote ecoroofs.

Amy Chomowicz will also give a presentation on this topic.


Building A Community―The Successes and the Failures

Sunday, May 20, 2.30 – 4.00pm

Tour Leader: George Crandall FAIA, Crandall Arambula

Pioneer SquareThe Portland downtown core area has been called an inspiration for the rest of the country. Portland promoters extol successes. The learning experiences and failures are rarely mentioned or well understood. This tour will illustrate what has worked and what has not; what has enhanced the downtown investment environment and what has degraded it. It will also identify the corrective actions that have been taken to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Examples of core area squares, buildings, retail districts, streets and parking that enhance and degrade the urban environment will be toured and discussed. Specific project examples include:

  • Squares. Success–Pioneer Courthouse Square; Failure–O’Bryant Square
  • Green Spaces. Success–Men’s and Women’s Parks; Failure–Federal Plaza
  • Office Buildings. Success–Pacwest Center; Failure–Portland Building and First Interstate Bank
  • Hotels. Success–Hilton Executive Suites; Failure–Hilton Hotel
  • Parking. Success–Hilton Executive Suites and Pioneer Place Parking Structure; Failure–Public Parking East
  • Retail. Success–Pioneer Place; Failure–Yamhill Market, Pearl District, and South Waterfront
  • Housing. Success–Pearl District; Failure–New Columbia
  • Streets. Success–NW 23rd; Failure–1st Avenue (no parking)
  • Transit Stops: Success–Pioneer Place; Failure–Old Town (street closure)
  • Paving. Success–Pioneer Courthouse Square and Portland Transit Mall; Failure–Director’s Park

George Crandall will also give a presentation on this topic.


Tanner Springs Park and Jamison Square

Sunday, May 20, 3.00 – 4.30pm

Tour leaders: Mike Abbate, Director, Portland Parks & Recreation, City of Portland

Jamison SquareIn June 1999, Peter Walker & Partners, a landscape architecture firm, provided concepts for new parks between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in the Pearl District.

Tanner Springs Park reveals the spring and creek that was channeled underground in the 19th century, allowing it to flow down into an area of native wetlands. Atelier Dreiseitl, a renowned German design firm, and GreenWorks, P.C., an award-winning, local landscape architecture firm, were selected to design the park. Community workshops allowed citizens to participate in the design process. Today, the park represents the ecology of the region before the city grew up around it, and is home to herons and other native wildlife.

Jamison Square, designed by Peter Walker & Partners (IMCL 2009 Urban Plazas Design Award), supports individual uses, meetings, social gatherings, entertainment and festivals (e.g. Bastille Day). The focal element is the Spring, a low waterfall that gushes out of the stone layers to create a shallow tidal pool. In the summer, the pool attracts hundreds of children, while families relax on the lawn. During the year, the café and restaurant terraces on the north side support community life. An ice cream parlor, toy store, and other shops, services and restaurants nearby generate activity on the street, and the streetcar on either side enhances accessibility.


The Portland Loo: A case for health and well-being in our communities.

Sunday, May 20, 3.00 – 4.30pm

Tour leader: Anne Hill, Portland Water Bureau, City of Portland

Public restrooms confirm and humanize the Commons. Their availability fosters health, fitness, pedestrian and bicycle commuting, and mass transit ridership. Urban toilet provision at the neighborhood scale is an often overlooked fundamental of social infrastructure. In 2006, Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard lead a group that designed and patented an urban toilet—the Portland Loo. A 10’long x 6’wide, ADA compliant public toilet designed to hook up to the sewer and water in the right-of-way, a park or on private property to address the needs of the community. The Portland Loo(s) has been met with great support from both the neighboring businesses and citizens.

Anne Hill will also give a presentation on the Portland Loo.


Director Park: Portland's Newest Public Piazza
A New Hub at the Intersection of Portland's History and Riverfront

Sunday, May 20, 3.30 – 5.00pm

Tour Leaders: Sandra Burtzos  -- Capital Project Manager III and
Allison Rouse -- Capital Project Manager II
Portland Parks & Recreation, City of Portland

Director Park: Portland's Newest Public Piazza

Director Park has helped build a sense of community in Portland’s downtown core. The site was donated to the City for a park by an adjacent property owner with the provision that there be a subsurface parking garage below. A passionate and informed coalition of neighborhood, open space and business interests was harnessed to a project team including consultants, project managers, the urban redevelopment agency and philanthropists to craft a multipurpose plaza woven into its social and physical context.

A management plan was implemented to channel operations. Director Park counted over 220,000 visitors its first year and quadrupled its event earnings forecast despite Portland’s rainy weather. It has become a landmark site for meeting, eating and people-watching, a result that validates the City’s collaborative approach in developing and managing an urban plaza.

A New Hub at the Intersection of Portland's History and Riverfront

Waterfront ParkSkidmore-Old Town Historic District, Portland’s historic city center, had been left behind in the redevelopment of downtown. Recently, the Portland Development Commission partnered with key players to jump-start redevelopment. This required relocation of the Portland Saturday Market, an eccentric and beloved 37-year old artisans’ market that operates 10 months per year and provides income for 400 micro-businesses with over 750,000 visitors annually. A new home for the market was created in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, reconnecting the historic district to the river. The interweaving of historic and contemporary textures has reunited the waterfront and the Skidmore District as a destination for people of all ages and walks of life, accessible by multi-modal transportation. Completed in 2009, the space accommodates the high capacity of the Saturday Market while also considering individual, casual and sequential experiences of the site as a linear waterfront park, and creating a new northern gateway to Waterfront Park.


How Portland Became Portland

Sunday, May 20, 4.00 – 5.30pm

Tour leader: Chet Orloff, Director Emeritus of the Oregon History Center and current chair of Portland's Central-City Plan project

A tour of downtown to explore the history of Portland, its architectural development, and the plans that the city has made and implemented to become what it is today. Wear a good pair of walking shoes and bring your camera.


Handcrafting Portland's 20-Minute Neighborhoods:
Sunnyside Neighborhood, Belmont & Hawthorne Commercial Districts

Thursday, May 24, 1.00 – 4.00pm

Belmont NeighborhoodPortland is home to one of North America’s largest expanses of neighborhoods built by first-generation streetcar. An abundance of trees line these pedestrian-oriented, vibrant commercial centers. The neighborhoods provide local residents with everyday needs, all within a 20-minute trip. While the original streetcar has long been removed, these areas continue to thrive due to regular bus service and bicycling facilities. Portland’s entrepreneurial culture is infusing new energy into these commercial areas, and developers and architects are responding with projects that respect existing neighborhood character and create unique identities.  You’ll explore the districts by foot and via transit.


Portland's Maturing Streetcar Neighborhood:
Pearl District and NW 23rd Neighborhood

Thursday, May 24, 1.00 – 4.00pm

Pearl DistrictIt’s been 10 years since the development of Portland’s renaissance streetcar neighborhood. Once a muddy rail yard with scattered industrial buildings, today the Pearl District is a national model for success.

Creative partnerships between multiple city agencies and innovative developers created this 21st-century streetcar neighborhood. The tour shares Portland’s lessons for integrating streetcars into the urban fabric and will explore the significant role of green architecture, parks, pedestrian-only streets, public art and adaptive re-use of existing buildings when creating such neighborhoods.


Portland 'Go By Bike':
N. Williams Neighborhood

Thursday, May 24, 1.00 – 4.00pm

Bike tourExperience the true essence of Portland in its exceptional role as America’s first major Platinum-designated bike-friendly city. See, hear and feel the spirit of a genuine urban biking community. On this special tour, you will enjoy Portland’s bicycle-friendly streets and buffered bicycle lanes, green streets and trails. Learn about agency efforts and creative collaborations between public and private entities to encourage bicycling. Explore the techniques and challenges to better integrate bicycling with on-street rail lines. This tour provides an enriching opportunity to network with other “bicyclistas” while also exploring the unique bike culture that contributes to Portland’s vibrant, local economy. Approximate Distance: 10 easy miles. $20 bike rental fee.