Montgomery Park is an icon of Portland, Oregon and represents the industry and commercial activity that has been in this area for centuries. The 17.5-acre site is located on the northwest edge of the Northwest District of Portland surrounded by residential neighborhoods to the south, industrial park to the north, and Forest Park to the west. Its century old architecture is rich in character and steeped in stories that echo the Portland’s own economic and cultural lineage. Due to local height restrictions, the existing historic Montgomery Park building soars over adjacent buildings and acts as a beacon and wayfinding monument within the city that Portlanders cherish. The project location is uniquely situated next to one of the region’s most renowned natural resources, Forest Park, that provides the site with a singular opportunity to renew itself as a vibrant mixed-use district that celebrates Portland’s famed urban outdoor lifestyle anchored by the same landmark building Portlanders have treasured for a century. Montgomery Park seeks to evolve a deeply rooted community and commercial core with direct connections to acres of forested parks and miles of trails in Northwest Portland with a vision that respects the past and looks to the future. With a proposed streetcar expansion, the Montgomery Park master plan wanted to embrace the district as a terminal streetcar station, multimodal transit connector, and gateway to Forest Park. The team understood the unique opportunity it had to be able to transform an existing office and parking district into transit-oriented destination by infusing it with vertical development, pedestrian connections, active open spaces, and additional mix of uses. The district will be a melting pot where city, industry, and park combine to provide a place for living, outdoor culture, commerce, business, food and beverage, events, wellness, fitness, and access to open space.
The modern origins of the site date back to the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition which was held on this site in Northwest Portland to celebrate the centennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This was followed by the construction of two historic buildings; the Montgomery Ward building and the American Can Complex both built in 1920-21 and currently standing today. The transformation of Montgomery Park district celebrates the rich cultural history of the Exposition and the historic buildings by reimagining a community focused place for events / festivals, walkable boulevards, and remarkable industrial buildings.
Overall planning of the district consists of three zones (east, central, and west) that transition from the industrial and office character of the existing American Can Complex on the east to a natural park and residential-like setting with the Trailhead Lodge and main district open space on the west. These zones are connected by a main district spine that acts as a curbless shared street and pedestrian alley connecting all the buildings, parks, and plazas in addition to a secondary pedestrian only spine running from the streetcar station through the existing Montgomery Park building atrium to the Trailhead Lodge and potentially beyond to Forest Park. The diverse mix of program for the district consists mostly of office and residential with a mix of retail / F&B, makerspaces, and three anchor programs (food hall, market, and Trailhead Lodge) which promote a culinary, cultural, and outdoor identity totaling around 1.9 million GSF. The Trailhead Lodge is the future soul of the district as a physical symbol, community space, and connection to the outdoor lifestyle and Forest Park with a program mix of wellness, gym, gathering spaces, bike rentals, and F&B. Most of the parking will be below-grade to promote an active and pedestrian friendly environment with some additional above grade and street parking. Implementation of the master plan will happen over a 10-year window with phase one completion planned for 2024.
This project honors the site’s heritage while creating an authentic future by envisioning a district as a neighborhood destination and connecting to its surrounding cultural assets and resurrecting its historic buildings. The project further strengthens Portland’s existing outdoor lifestyle by building an identity and purpose as an outdoor mecca and ‘urban trailhead district’ by connecting to Forest Park. It is a genuine nexus of its surrounding residential, industrial, and park community. This project represents a dramatic investment and commitment to revitalizing Northwest Portland from an urban center that has experienced much degradation over the last few years.
Montgomery Parks master plan’s guiding principles are the following: (1) Establish the Montgomery Park district as an epicenter for Portland’s urban outdoor lifestyle, rooted in its proximity to Forest Park and connection to the city. (2) Develop a destination district anchored by the iconic Montgomery Park building and American Can Complex. (3) Celebrate the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition history and famed Forestry Building legacy. (4) Foster community by creating an authentic place for Northwest Portland that is welcoming, safe, and inclusive. (5) Design pedestrian-friendly buildings and spaces that are flexibly programmed, variably scaled, and dynamic. (6) Design a coherent architectural vocabulary that celebrates the historic buildings while artfully incorporating a contemporary mix of uses. (7) Embrace Portland’s locally rooted identity while establishing the district as a regional destination for retail, arts, innovation, food, and creative culture. (8) Exemplify environmental stewardship as integral part of placemaking. (9) Promote connectivity by becoming a multi-modal transit hub for Northwest Portland. (10) Elevate the Montgomery Park brand through meaningful development phases that execute an economically successful place where people want to work, live, and play.
Lake|Flato’s urban design, planning, and architecture work strives to create places with a purpose. By carefully studying environmental, cultural, and urban contexts, Lake|Flato creates walkable, human-scaled urban districts, and neighborhoods that respond to its unique place. The firm’s architectural design evolves from an appreciation for the pragmatic solutions of vernacular architecture, the honesty of modernism, and the context of the rich and varied landscape. By exploring the intimate relationship between community, place, and building they can create unique environments that possess a compelling authenticity and beauty. The protection of natural and historic resources forms the foundation of their approach to sustainable urban design and architecture by employing strategies in a wide variety of types and scales that conserves energy and natural resources while creating high performance buildings and healthy built environments for the people.