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Fourth Avenue Parklet
Fourth Avenue Parklet

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 until recently what they did not offer was a place to sit down and enjoy one's lunch. The SoMa Parklet has now changed all that, thanks to the generous support of our community donors, who helped us raise just over $15,000 to pay for materials and other expenses, enabling the construction to take place in spring 2015.

The parklet is 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 are taking advantage of 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 most are 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 in downtown Portland that is publicly owned. The parklet is not limited to customers of a particular business--anyone can sit and enjoy it, just as anyone can utilize a public park. And it's the first Street Seats installation in Southwest Portland. Watch the project's video to learn more.

Who has created the parklet? 
This project is a collaboration between SoMa EcoDistrict, Portland State University's School of Architecture, Sustainability Neighborhoods Initiative 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 was it built? 
The SoMa parklet was completed in Spring 2015, and was opened to the public in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 1, 2015.

Where is it 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.

Is it 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 blogPortland Tribune and PortlandArchitecture.com have written about the project. Most recently, the Daily Journal of Commerce ran a story on the success of our crowdfunding campaign. Updates about the parklet will be posted on this web page as well.

How can I help? 
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Brandi Campbell, SoMa Project Coordinator, at cbrandy@pdx.edu, or Assistant Professor B.D. Wortham-Galvin, at bdw3@pdx.edu.

Renderings created by Michael Coon, PSU M.Arch 2014.