Introducing urbanLAB::PDX, a collective seeking to challenge the potential of the urban environment
Author: Karen O'Donnell Stein
Posted: October 24, 2012

More than places where people live and work, more than a collection of architectural structures, cities are dynamic, complex cultural artifacts. Design at the urban scale involves the shaping of urban change and conservation in ways that traditional architectural strategies may not address.

In response to this challenge, a group of Department of Architecture faculty, students and professionals have launched urbanLAB::PDX, a collective that is engaged in making urban design--in its increasingly diverse scales and modes--a focal point for the Department of Architecture and Portland State University as a whole.

This design "laboratory" will explore urbanistic, aesthetic, infrastructural and environmental issues in partnership with public organizations, professional firms and governmental agencies through collaborative, project-based initiative. The collective aims to create new knowledge of the ways in which design at the urban scale can provide an integrating and meaningful definition of the urban experience, and to nurture and share this knowledge through publications, exhibitions, symposia, and workshops with the public.

urbanLAB::PDX kicks off in October and November with a series of events that are open to the public:

Light or Dark?
Tuesday, October 30, 7 - 9pm
The Pied Cow
3244 SE Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon

Please join us for this discussion of the role lighting should play in Portland, featuring the differing viewpoints of an advocate for new light installations and a proponent for dark sky initiatives. This conversation will take place over beverages that may require taking a position on the same question: "Light or dark?" Moderated by Jeff Schnabel, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University.

Pruitt-Igoe Now
Opening Thursday, November 1 (First Thursday), 5 - 9pm
Runs November 1 - December 21, 2012
AIA Portland | Center for Architecture, 403 NW 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

The 2012 Pruitt-Igoe Now ideas competition invited participants to submit their visions for the future of the 33-acre now-vacant site of the controversial St. Louis housing project, and was organized by Nora Wendl, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University, and Michael Allen, Director of the Preservation Research Office, St. Louis, Missouri. Opening First Thursday, November 1, this exhibit will showcase entries to the Pruitt-Igoe Now competition and is curated by Nora Wendl.

Pruitt-Igoe and Other Architectural Fictions
Thursday, November 29, 7 - 9pm
AIA Portland | Center for Architecture, 403 NW 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

The public image of Pruitt-Igoe, a fabled work of American architecture, was transformed from utopian to dystopian over the course of twenty years. Join us for a discussion of this and other architectural fictions, in which we examine the stories we tell about the impact of architectural works in our culture. Moderated by Nora Wendl, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Portland State University.

For more information about the Department of Architecture, visit