Founded 6 years ago, the warehouse turned design studio at the corner of NW 18th and Johnson in Portland, OR represents a philosophy of open design collaboration and creative placemaking. A passerby may notice crumpled trace, clay models, computers, and a giant green shop door. Peak a little closer and one will discover PLACE—a team of design professionals doing what they love. Visitors should be prepared to roll up their sleeves, engage in PLACE’s creative process, and experience a taste of what drives us towards design excellence.
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 the in-house workshop, designers are able to 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 NIKE’s World Headquarters, Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, University of Oregon Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, and Swarovski Crystal World Museum in 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 20 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 travel to various cities throughout Japan with Portland Development Commission, exchanging ideas and working to solve the next generation of building and urban growth challenges. PLACE is committed to inspiring landscape architecture, planning, art, and urban design around the world.
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, wetland cells and other 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. For the last three years, 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. PLACE again completed pro-bono services related to the design and coordination of the universal access playground for Gateway Discovery Park & Plaza to be completed next Fall. PLACE prioritizes giving back to the community.
Pivotal to Portland’s core of government and civic institutions, the Edith Green Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Building was modernized inside and out. The transformation was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and led by the General Services Administration (GSA). The reconstruction effort peeled away the layers of an existing structure, site, and landscape to provide a contemporary image for the prominent government building. A significant portion of the renovation included the complete redevelopment of the project’s urban site, streetscape, and rooftop. Envisioned as a downtown green infrastructure hub, the site represents a living organism. A thriving native and naturalized landscape surrounds the building and engages the public, flowing from curb’s edge, across the site and in places, up the face of the building. Shade structures designed to reduce thermal loads on the west and south building elevations provide a framework for a tapestry of vines bringing further shading and an added diversity of life and natural habitat. Elemental to the site design, sustainable measures create highly efficient vertical and horizontal landscapes. Stormwater is collected from the roof’s photovoltaic array and all the site’s surfaces then stored in a 170k gallon cistern used for toilet flushing, irrigation, and fire suppression. Conceived as a lush, robust landscape, the plantings are a physical representation of the site’s location embodying the Northwest spirit.
The NIKE campus first opened in 1990 and has undergone three waves of construction, doubling its size. Nike’s latest expansion will add 3.2 million square feet of office, mixed-use and parking facilities. The landscape and new structures support the original campus master plan and join the campus with open green spaces, paths, sports courts and fields, providing for fluid future growth. As the landscape architect for the latest NIKE expansion, PLACE has provided a continuity between the buildings and landscape, integrating several sustainable features as Nike aims for LEED Platinum Certification. The landscape design engages the buildings, an indication of the collaborative teamwork and creativity found at PLACE’s studio during bimonthly meetings with NIKE, the architects, and construction team.
With a bold design embracing the pioneer spirit of the region, the Prairie Line Trail (PLT) showcases the past through a rich vernacular of rail spurs and loading docks while simultaneously looking forward to a culture of pedestrian activity and bike commuting. The 80-foot railroad right-of-way is a layered path weaving historic artifacts, innovative stormwater management and interconnected transportation pathways. Honoring the historical nature and distinct culture of the region, the PLT aspires to redefine Tacoma’s downtown character while prioritizing the urban potential of the corridor and uniting adjacent cultural institutions; linking transportation; and taking advantage of the vibrant activity within a growing community. The UW Tacoma Station is the first built segment of the 1.2 mile trail and establishes the fundamental elements necessary to create a multi-modal urban corridor while providing a functional open space in the central city. The PLT will play a pivotal role connecting the regional recreation and mobility network of Tacoma. A progressive approach to stormwater management is one of the highlights of the PLT environmental design strategy. The UWT segment collects 42 acres of urban runoff, harvesting stormwater from city streets, naturally treating it through the rail corridor landscape and returning it, clean, to the Puget Sound. As the first phase of the project has been completed, it is already seen as a model of successful social, economic, and environmental stewardship.