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Lloyd Crossing Urban Design Plan

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Background

The goal for the Lloyd Crossing Sustainable Urban Design Plan was to create a vision for the Lloyd District study area that is environmentally and financially sustainable which has the kind of critical urban qualities that distinguish it within the context of the greater Portland area as a unique, vibrant, attractive and healthy community, and would provide a model for development efforts throughout the rest of the city.

Lloyd Crossing is one of five designated EcoDistricts in Portland. In 2003, the 35-block Lloyd Crossing study area contained approximately 2.8 million square feet of developed building area, in a mix of office, retail, lodging, residential, restaurant, and above grade parking use. The baseline Floor Area Ratio (FAR) established by Portland’s zoning code allows a total of approximately 15.6 million total square feet of above grade development on these blocks. Over the next 45 years, the study model anticipates that the market for real estate in the study area could potentially absorb the addition of approximately 8.1 million square feet of new above-grade building development, for a total of 10.9 million square feet. This represents approximately 70% of the baseline FAR capacity in the study area.

Team

The consultant team itself went beyond traditional design disciplines such as architects, planners, landscape architects, and engineers to include real estate development and economic analysis as well as experts in the fields of energy, water use, construction cost, public relations and branding. A truly integrated design approach must include an active client presence and the client groups various committees formed a single Steering Committee that enabled a more efficient and thorough feedback process to the consultant team.

The Lloyd Crossing plan looked beyond many conventional assumptions about urban development, energy use, and boundaries between public and private interests. Over the course of the plan’s development, close contact was maintained between team members and key stakeholders, sometimes on a daily basis, so that individual concerns (how should parking be allocated? how do operational savings get distributed? how much housing development is realistic in the short term?) could be addressed before they expanded into issues that might derail the overall direction of the plan.

Process

Our team developed a set of “predevelopment metrics” – an environmental performance benchmark based on the natural conditions of the site prior to urban development. This was a powerful organizing force that allowed stakeholders to think beyond traditional limitations of property lines and existing urban systems.

Each idea or strategy was tested against the cost-benefit analysis for the district financial model. Benefit modeling include detailed analysis of the input/output flows into the district. These included carbon balance, water and energy use, solar utilization, tree cover, and habitat. New forms were created for urban intersections, and wastewater treatment became part of the central urban space as environmental metrics were incorporated into financial payback strategies and urban design elements. The concept of green buildings was stretched and expanded to encompass “green neighborhoods”.

Results

The Lloyd Crossing plan provides tangible means to meet the highest level of environmental performance, generate positive investment returns, and create a unique urban neighborhood. Even though implementation of the vision will require strong public/private partnerships, patient investors, and a long-term perspective, the plan has already generated wide-spread support and excitement.

Next Steps

The plan developed a detailed series of follow-up steps to be taken towards implementation. Much work remains to be done in order to realize its vision in the Lloyd District. Some of the ideas in the plan, such as stormwater bioswales in public intersections, have been taken up as separate research and development projects within the City. The fundamental issues of public/private partnership required for initial development of the Catalyst Project are being discussed between the City and private landowners.

The real value of the plan may lie in its pioneering nature and ability to inspire like-minded thinking in other areas. Its methodology and vision can be scaled up or down to a wide variety of applications, from individual buildings, to campus planning, to neighborhoods and cities and even entire regions. As a public document, it can help to promote the kind of innovative thinking that lays the groundwork for additional breakthroughs in the design of sustainable infrastructure and systems.

Further Reading

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