Project Detail


Simon and Helen Director Park

Portland , OR United States

ZGF Architects LLP


Project Description

After sitting dormant as an asphalt surface parking lot in the heart of the city, private initiative stimulated the development of this sophisticated piece of urban infrastructure. European piazzas were an inspiration for the design of the park. The concept of an urban hardscape stretching from building face to building face allows the park to engage the active street fronts of the adjoining properties. While the piazza is meant to be a pedestrian space that cars are invited into, on special occasions the entire city block can be closed off from vehicular traffic to accommodate large-scale events.

The design of this urban park is intended to create new open spaces with a variety of microclimates, amenities and places for activity that present a unique destination and landmark for residents and visitors. Situated within the overlap of the retail, office and cultural districts of the central city, Director Park is active from dawn to twilight, and it accommodates the ebb and flow of a broad range of urban communities.

A key feature in the park is an open, glass-and-wood canopy sitting high along the street’s edge, offering covered seating space and views over the plaza. The plaza is designed to engage pedestrians with programmed and non-programmed activities. A water element, with arching jets and a semi-circular basin at the northeast corner, creates a comfortable environment for pedestrians. It reinforces the architectural massing of the site by addressing the street edge and providing a balance of built elements within the open space of the plaza.

Other elements of the design include loose table and chair seating, permanent architectural concrete and wood benches, street trees, custom lighting, and a café. Both the stone-paved surfaces and glass canopy incorporate innovative stormwater techniques to capture runoff on-site.

The existing garage beneath placed a number of constraints on the project. The site’s eleven-foot grade change coupled with a need to maintain six inches of undisturbed gravel over the uneven garage lid (to ensure the integrity of existing waterproofing) required innovative solutions to incorporate sub-surface utilities and accommodate the maximum ADA-allowed cross slope of two percent.

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 slows 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.

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

Simon and Helen Director Park
Shared by:
Firm Name:
Project Team:
    Greg Baldwin
  • Project Manager: Ron Stewart 
  • Principal Urban Planner: Paddy Tillett 
  • Landscape Architect: Brian McCarter 
  • Lead Designer: Michael Speck 
  • General Contractor: Brant Construction 
  • Lead Designer: Olin 
  • Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers Inc.  
  • Civil Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers Inc.  
  • Mechanical Engineer: SOLARC Architecture & Engineering, Inc. 
  • Electrical Engineer: Interface Engineering, Inc. ( 
  • Landscape Consultant: Mayer/Reed 
  • Fountain Designer: CMS 
Project Type:
Project Status:
Year Completed:
Project Size:
    67,500 sq ft
Construction Cost:

Specified Products

Viracon / Vanceva Interlayers / DeaMor Glass / Dow Corning Corporation Viracon VE 1-2M glazing, Vanceva clear, cool white, and artic snow interlayers, Dow Corning 799 silicon glazing sealant, DeaMor custom thru-bolt connections and installations

Every glazing assembly in the park is either a custom fabrication or a custom installation that required the efforts and expertise of a variety of manufacturers, fabricators and installers to accomplish. Each assembly provides a unique yet subtle solution for its given purpose. The custom thru bolt shingled canopy glazing gives this overhead plane an interesting texture that plays with the light while providing a degree of weather protection to the park users utilizing the terraces below. The off-white glazing interlayers screen the cafe's kitchen equipment with an ever changing pattern without completely blocking this portion of the structure off from the adjacent street activity. The structural silicon installation of the cafe's glazing directly to the custom stainless steel frame maximizes the buildings transparency allowing the cafe users to stay connected to the larger park and streetscape environments.

Turner Exhibits Electric Actuator Tilt-Up Facade Panel

In the down position the panel seamlessly blends in with the general building facade. In the open position it becomes a canopy marking the entrance to the walk-up counter while providing weather protection to patrons waiting in line for a cup of coffee or a morning pastry. The sculptural quality and immaculate fabrication of the panels actuator assembly is an added bonus.



Please read our Content Guidelines before posting.

Other Planning Projects


Other Pacific Projects