SoMa Parklet Project

The SW Fourth Avenue food carts between College and Hall Streets offer a variety of lunch options, from burritos to curries to Thai pastas, but what they don't offer is a place to sit down and enjoy one's lunch. The SoMa Parklet will soon change all that.

The parklet will be an attractive public gathering space for the SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood, further activating this block, which was once simply a parking lot adjoined by street parking. Workers from nearby offices (including the City of Portland office right across the street), staff, students and faculty from PSU, residents of the neighborhood and visitors alike will enjoy the parklet--a comfortable space to pause and take in the outdoors in the middle of a busy day rather than racing back to one's desk to wolf down that food cart lunch.

Parklets have been popping up around Portland, from Mississippi Street to the Pearl, but these are all privately owned by restaurants and bars that utilize them for outdoor seating, thereby expanding the number of customers they can serve. What's unique about the SoMa Parklet is that it is the first such project that is publicly owned. The parklet will not be limited to customers of a particular business--anyone can sit and enjoy its shelter, just as anyone can utilize a public park. And it's the first Street Seats installation in Southwest Portland.

Who is creating the parklet? This project is a collaboration between SoMa EcoDistrict, Portland State University's School of Architecture and Institute for Sustainable Solutions. Partners include Oregon Pacific Investment & Development, CH2M/Hill, Sustainable Northwest Wood, Green Hammer and others.

How did this project come about? Designs for the parklet were developed as part of a design studio course in the School of Architecture in Fall 2013, taught by Assistant Professor B.D. Wortham-Galvin, in partnership with the SoMa EcoDistrict. The team of students and partners submitted the designs to the City of Portland's Street Seats program, and in Winter 2014 their plans were approved by the City. Design revisions, fundraising and partnership development are in progress, with management support by recent PSU Master of Architecture graduate Michael Coon.

When will it be be built? The SoMa parklet is expected to be completed in Spring 2015.

Where will it be located? You'll find the SoMa parklet spanning the length of two parking spaces on SW Fourth Avenue between College and Hall Streets in Southwest Portland.

Will it be sustainable? Yes! The parklet has been designed with careful consideration regarding stormwater management and will include reused, recycled and sustainable materials.

Where can I learn more? Portland State University's Sustainability blog and Portland Tribune have both written about the project. Updates about the parklet will be posted on this web page as well.

How can I help? We are currently seeking funds and other support from community members. If you are interested in donating or getting involved, please contact Liz Hormann, SoMa Project Coordinator, at ehormann@pdx.edu, or Assistant Professor B.D. Wortham-Galvin, at bdw3@pdx.edu.