Imagine a place where visitors roll up their sleeves, engage in artistic process, draw, make models, exchange provocative ideas and experience a taste of what drives this collective towards design excellence. An industrial warehouse transformed into a collaborative and creative design studio in Portland, Oregon, PLACE practices a philosophy of people inspired placemaking. Founded in 2010, the studio is committed to landscape architecture, planning, art, and urban design as a gateway to the quality of life worldwide.
From simple sketches and 3D renderings to 1:1 scale sculptured models, PLACE explores a spectrum of visual communication strategies during the design process. Using our in-house workshop, designers produce full-scale mock-ups to test physical representations of the final design to study and communicate ideas with clients, committees, and the public. Representative projects include: Tokyo Shoin Jinja Community’s Parks Vision Plan, Japan; Floating Gardens of Tonle Sap, Cambodia; NIKE’s World Headquarter, Portland, Oregon; U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Swarovski Kristallwelten Park, Austria.
PLACE’s team of 30 designers is ethnically diverse and intuitively sensitive to the social fabric of emerging communities. Multidisciplinary approach and cultural fluency inform PLACE designers’ creative processes and are reflected in their work worldwide. In 2014, PLACE hosted over 30 Japanese delegations and led an international trade mission from Portland to Japan in an interactive community workshop in Tokyo with the Portland Development Commission’s We Build Green Cities program. PLACE continues to engage communities throughout Japan exchanging ideas and exploring solutions for social networks, urban restructuring, and smart infrastructure.
PLACE embraces practices that give back to the planet and benefit the global community. Using nature as inspiration, PLACE designs high-quality built-environments realized with less consumption of natural resources. PLACE recently assisted with the final design of a Natural Organic Recycling Machine (NORM) for Hassalo on Eighth, a new building development with over one million sq. ft. of new construction near downtown Portland. The system works like a wetland, using tidal cells and natural processes to clean and treat effluent. The NORM treats all of the buildings’ waste and recycles grey water on-site, to reuse for flushing toilets, irrigating landscape, and cooling towers for each of the buildings.
PLACE sponsors company-wide civic activities, including neighborhood tree planting and revitalization projects for low-income families. PLACE has joined Parke Diem, a non-profit, citywide campaign to launch Portland’s largest ever park-supporting event. PLACE strongly believes that children and adults of all abilities should be able to play and learn together. With $100,000 in-kind assistance from Schematic Design through Construction Administration and As-Builts, marketing, and fundraising, PLACE ensured that Harper’s Playground successfully became the first universal playground in Portland. During the last eight years, PLACE’s studio, art gallery, workshop, and mobile workforce served as an incubator for numerous regional community events and projects benefiting from more than $1,000,000 of in-kind materials and services by PLACE.
The Edith Green Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) is the renovation of a 1975 building, the complete redevelopment of one full city block, and the embodiment of the highest standards of environmental design excellence. Energy savings goals for the building were specified by the project’s funding source, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In 2014, EGWW was named one of the ten most sustainable projects in the United States. PLACE created planted berms to replace walls, providing a seamless transition between the pavement and plantings for a feeling of walking through the landscape. Carefully tested through the fabrication of a full-scale mock-up, the berms are an intricate layering of natural and synthetic fabrics; like earthen upholstery they are woven at their corners for strength and longevity. A unique building facade of “reeds” designed to reduce thermal loads provides the framework for a tapestry of vines bringing further shading and an added diversity of life and natural habitat. With 82% of the site planted with over 40 species year-round flower and foliage brings a park-like character for people to enjoy. Stormwater is collected from both the roof’s photovoltaic array and all of the site’s surfaces and stored in a 170K gallon cistern before being used for toilet flushing, irrigation, and fire suppression. Over the course of a year, 626,544 gallons of rainwater have been collected and reused, equating to 7 competition-size high school swimming pools.
Portland, OR, USA
Kotobuki, Setagaya, Japan
Shoin Jinja is a growing community within the City of Setagaya in southwest metropolitan Tokyo. Typical of Japanese neighborhoods, parks are aging and the local government is exploring creative alternatives to future open space investments and maintenance strategies. Aiding the process, Kotobuki, a Japanese leading outdoor furniture company, commissioned PLACE to facilitate a series of community engagement workshops seeking public feedback and vision for the future. During 2016-2018, Kotobuki, PLACE and a community leader Yoshiaki Sato, hosted series of workshops to study the Shoin Jinja area and plan future public involvement activities. Meeting topics included civic engagement strategies, collaboration approach with the City of Setagaya and residents, community workshop process, and project schedule and goals. The project team toured the Shoin Jinja neighborhood and held PLACE designed Kitto workshops. Activities include role-playing, selecting inspirational images, answering questions, identifying opportunities on neighborhood maps and writing messages on postcards. The exercise proved valuable as the community became familiar with the Portland-style engagement process and the assembled groups were able to provide feedback in preparation for the next workshop. Discussions included trends in Japanese parks such as users’ demographics, parks programming, aging equipment and infrastructure, operations and maintenance as well as prioritization of future investment in public open spaces.