Simon and Helen Director Park

Designers: Olin Partnership | City: Portland, OR | Project Type: park blocks, stormwater management
Date Visited: 12.13.12

Locations: SW Park & Yamhill
Size: 0.46 acre
Cost: $9.5 million
Completion Date: October 2009

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The newest addition to the South Park Blocks, Simon and Helen Director Park is a former 1-acre parking lot transformed into an European-inspired plaza. Designed by the Olin Partnership, the signature elements of this public space include the glass and wood canopy, a café, an interactive fountain with arching jets, and a semi-circular basin for seating.

Funding for the park was provided jointly by philanthropist Tom Moyer and Jordan Director Schnitzer, the grandson of Simon and Helen Director, early immigrants who helped build the city to whom the park is dedicated.

Site Plan. Image Credit: architypereview.com

Concept Sketch. Image credit: theolinstudio.com

A hugely popular and successful site, “now as many as 500 visit on a nice day during lunch, according to Portland Bureau of Parks & Recreation estimates. A July head count logged 30,000 visitors for the month.” There were a decent number of people around on the days I visited; there was even live music playing outside of the cafe. A large scale chess set sat on a corner of the park. In addition to its various amenities, both the large, honey-colored granite plaza and glass canopy “incorporate innovative stormwater techniques to capture and reuse runoff on-site to support the irrigation of plants during the dry months.”

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