The Work Ahead

Restoring a Portland treasure

In the 1960s, when these amazing spaces were created, the vast majority of public parks were serene and passive. Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin had a different approach, creating spaces that were both active and interactive, spaces where you could have fun. So while the restoration project included countless physical improvements to the spaces, it also restored the soul of Halprin’s original philosophy, his vision, and his spirit of revolution.

A restoration that benefits everyone

The Halprin Landscape Conservancy partnered with Portland Parks & Recreation to complete the $4 million construction project. The firm of Stacy and Witbeck was hired as the general contractor.

With the initial round of fundraising completed, construction kicked off in the summer of 2018. Because these amazing public spaces had fallen into such disrepair over the past 50 years, they were each closed for one year to allow for the majority of the work to be finished. This included:

  • Installing new fountain pumps and related plumbing
  • Redoing and updating underground utilities
  • Rebuilding walls and concrete structures
  • Addressing drainage and mechanical system issues

The initial round of overall restoration will improve a variety of key elements necessary to return the Sequence to its heyday. This includes:

  • Visitor safety and site accessibility
  • Nighttime safety and security
  • Energy efficiency of electrical systems
  • Elimination of plumbing leaks and water waste issues

Seeing the forest through the trees

Halprin’s original design incorporates a variety of landscapes, adding to a lively and kinetic aesthetic through natural features. Many of the trees, shrubs and other types of vegetation planted more than 50 years ago have become overgrown, often blocking the sunlight and obscuring the pathways. As a way to best preserve the designer’s intent and aesthetic — as well as the overall health of the area’s greenery — a Master Landscape Plan has been implemented in order to document the current condition of the trees, shrubs and groundcover found throughout the Portland Open Space Sequence. Ultimately, the goal is to create a management plan for the plants and landscape that supports the environmental, visual and sensory experiences intended by the original Halprin design.

Public-private partners forge the solution

A groundbreaking public-private partnership has come together to restore the Sequence.  At the centerpiece is an innovative voluntary Local Improvement District, LID, in which property owners in the surrounding area agreed to assess themselves to pay for $2.15 million in repairs that qualify under State of Oregon regulations.

Additional funding was provided by grants and private contributions from foundations, businesses and individuals who believe the Sequence plays an important role in downtown’s continued health and vitality.

LID participants

  • Russell Development Company, 200 Market Building
  • Melvin Mark, Crown Plaza, Columbia Square, Fifth Avenue Building
  • Oregon Pacific Investment & Development
  • Naito Development/Harrison & First LLC
  • Goodman Generations LLC
  • Harsch Investment Properties
  • Clarion, 100 Market and Woolworth Buildings
  • BPM-UB, LLC, Schlesinger Building
  • Diamond 49