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University District Framework Plan

Envisioning a Vibrant University District

The University District Framework Plan, developed in 2010, (available to download here) reflects the most recent and comprehensive efforts to consolidate past campus-area plans and define a vision for the future of Portland State and its surroundings in central Portland. The Plan outlines goals and strategies towards making PSU a more sustainable, vibrant Portland institution and hub of learning excellence

What does the Plan do?

The Framework Plan provides an outline for growth that emphasizes PSU’s unique academic opportunities, partnerships, commitment to sustainability, and role in enriching the Portland region and Oregon. In this model, boundaries between the University and the city are blurred as partnerships and collaboration influence PSU, public, and private investment. Buildings and open spaces are permeated by public and private uses, parks abound, transit, walking, and bicycling are the preferred ways to move about, and development is integrated and mixed across blocks and into the skies.

The University District will both be distinct in its aesthetic and function and will integrate seamlessly with the city at large. Infrastructure, the natural environment, and social spaces blend together allowing people to move with ease throughout the district.

  • Expansion of the University District to accommodate up to 7 million square feet of PSU and private development
  • Promote flexibility and continuity in the built environment and human-scale growth
  •  Integration with the EcoDistrict initiative, Green Streets projects, green buildings, street-level mixed-use, and well-connected active transportation
  • Development of a distinct urban character to the University
  •  Supportive of traditional and non-traditional students alike

Why make a Plan?

With nearly 30,000 enrolled students and projections to add 10-20,000 more by 2035, the campus area and PSU facilities will become even more strained and busy. Current academic spaces, housing, and student support buildings are aging and many no longer meet the needs of a dynamic, sustainably-oriented urban university. The Plan proposed physical development and operational changes that will promote the success of the University by:

  • Educating future leaders, particularly in areas of strength in Portland, including technology, sustainability, stewardship, and civic well-being.
  • Serving as a living laboratory for innovative concepts and growth engines, such as EcoDistricts
  • Attracting world-class students, professors, and researchers to live and work in the highly-collaborative and intellectually rigorous PSU and Pacific Northwest region

A Campus Vision

The University District is a large and dynamic part of Portland that serves innumerable different needs for the tens of thousands of people who live, work, and play in it. The Framework Plan proposed three distinct development centers that each focus on different human needs and services while maintaining a strong connection to the vision of blended uses, an inviting pedestrian realm, vibrant indoor and outdoor spaces, and cutting-edge sustainable development.

  • The Park Blocks Center reimagines the campus area west of the Park Blocks as a student-centered hub that mixes instructional, office, and research spaces to showcase PSU’s academic success.
  • Concentrated around SW College Street and SW 5th Avenue, the Living/Learning Center provides a core of student housing with supporting academic and commercial uses that meet a student’s daily needs.
  • Around the Urban Plaza, the City Gateway Center will serve as the “downtown” of campus, offering retail options, showcasing sustainable features, and linking the University both physically and conceptually to greater Central City Portland.

Legacy of the Plan: Historic background and previous efforts

The Framework Plan serves to consolidate and organize many previous planning efforts that have occurred through the years. From the earliest campus plans from the 1960s to space needs assessments and transportation plans from the 2000s, the Framework Plan draws influence from a variety of University and City initiatives, regulations, and strategies, while adding a cohesive vision to the entire District.

A collection of past plans can be found here

Who Was Involved in the Plan Creation?

The formal process of developing the Framework Plan began in late 2008, with the bulk of outreach and public events occurring in early 2009, and the project reaching conclusion in mid-2010. PSU, lead by a Campus Economic and Planning Advisory Committee (CEPAC), composed of students, faculty, staff, and area stakeholders, worked with several consultant teams to realize the Plan. Throughout the process, scores of stakeholders and interested parties participated in open houses, meetings, and work sessions to prioritize the community’s say in the outcomes of the effort.