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.