Design Advice offered for Conway Block 290 (images)

Design Advice has been offered to YBA Architects and PLACE Studio for Conway Block 290, a mixed use development at NW 21st and Pettygrove. The project by Guardian Real Estate Services will include a new square surrounded by four to six story buildings. These will have residential units over ground floor retail, with a subterranean performing arts center. Car parking will be provided in a below grade garage.


The project is located on land currently owned by Conway, and occupied by a truck servicing facility built in 1967. The adopted masterplan calls for the western half of block 290 to be developed with a privately owned square and associated development. The eastern half of the block will be a publicly owned park, to be developed by Portland Parks & Recreation when sufficient funding from Systems Development Charges becomes available.


As presented at the Design Advice hearing, the proposal would require building in the alignment of the north-south pedestrian accessway. The accessways are a requirement of the masterplan, and there was unanimous opposition from the Design Commission to the idea of amending the masterplan to allow construction in the 60′ wide accessway. The Commission did indicate that they would be amenable to modifications to specific dimensional standards in the masterplan, if the applicant can prove that their proposals better meets the intent of the standards.




Other discussion focussed on the heights of the buildings surrounding the square and the merits of a fully enclosed square vs a three sided square. The neighborhood association is strongly supportive of a fully enclosed four sided square, but it is a significant challenge to create the required 16,000 sq ft square with buildings on four sides without encroaching on the accessway.









The project will be reviewed through a Type III Design Review with hearings before the Design Commission. The applicant has the option of returning for a further Design Advice request before submitting for a full review. A Type III Masterplan amendment is currently pending to allow vehicular access to the underground garage from NW Pettygrove Street.


3 thoughts on “Design Advice offered for Conway Block 290 (images)

  1. I finally have to say it. Having looked at hundreds of the visions of proposed buildings in Portland a couple of things are clear. First, the places look so much better with the virtual people chosen to be shown walking and standing in them. Second, only white people between the ages of 20 and 50–and their dogs–are envisioned for those places. These are not photos of existing places, they are representations meant to appeal to their audience of city staff and potential clients. What do these images say about the kind of city our architects aspire Portland to be?

    • David,
      Speaking from an intern’s perspective who has put together many renderings under tight deadlines. It’s all to easy to be critical over the people we place in imagery as it does create a particular vision outside of the architecture itself. I will say though that with offices under tight deadlines and a lack of time to find the perfect person or couple to place in an image is not always a priority. We often use these people for purely scale or to show what activities could be possible within a space. I’ve seen countless comments on this website about the entourage/people used in renderings and yes, it’s not always ideal but please take into consideration the limitations architecture firms are working under- mainly time. Producing 10+ images for a design review deadline is hard. All I ask is for a little understanding of where we’re coming from.

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