2016’s Top Portland Design Events

Portland Design Events 2016 Blog  Year in Review

Activism, hand craft, and community-building were the dominant themes in Portland Design Events’ most viewed pages and articles of 2016. It was a year that saw 591 events and 33 in-depth articles published on the website, promoting the best architecture and design-related events in Portland from dozens of exceptional organizations. The year saw an abundance of architectural walking tours from Positively Portland Walking Toursand the Architectural Heritage Center, world-class exhibits from Design Museum Portland and The Center for Architecture, and informative, insightful lectures organized by the UO John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape. 2016 was also the inaugural year for a number of events, including the Architecture Foundation of Oregon’s REFRESH event and the Portland Winter Light Festival, which returns for its second year this coming February.

The most popular events on the website, however, tended to be events that involved craft or making, and those that involved service to others or to the community. Of the top five most visited event pages alone, two were related to the Sleeping POD program – aimed at creating beautifully designed and affordable shelters for the houseless. This interest in design-dependent humanitarian and community work continued with the Park(ing) Day program, whose page on PDE via Open Architecture Portland was the site’s second-most visited event page of the year.

The popularity of public interest design was complimented by an equally popular interest in hand craft. The University of Oregon in Portland’s Free Hand Drawing Workshop showcased this years’ work of students and instructors during a First Thursday event in November, garnering exceptional interest from the local design community. Portland’s thirst for hand craft extended beyond city limits as The Center for Architecture welcomed world-renowned architecture and design firm Snøhetta to town for a three month long exhibit that featured physical models and materials from the firm’s workshop that guests were invited to interact with. As Snøhetta’s work took over the building, so did visitors to the exhibit, which attracted more guests than any other exhibit in the history of the Center.


LRS Architects’ Sleeping Pod. Image courtesy Timothy Niou.

LRS Architects’ Sleeping Pod. Image courtesy Timothy Niou.

The following lists detail the most popular events and articles on Portland Design Events in 2016, ranked in order by the number of page visits:

Top events:

1 | Sleeping Pod Designs Unveiling
Fall 2016 saw an incredible effort from 14 architecture, design, and activist teams who, over the course of just a few months, designed, built and presented sleeping pods to the community. The pods were prototype designs for repeatable, quick, easy, and affordable shelters for the houseless, organized by a collaborative of Portland architecture and community organizations. In this event – Portland Design Event’s most visited event page of 2016 – poster boards for all teams and their pods were exhibited at City Hall while presenters spoke about the process and where the program is going in the future. It preceded an exhibit of the actual pods that was soon to follow.

2 | Park(ing) Day 2016
Parking Day is an “annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.” While the PDE web page highlighted Open Architecture Portland’s specific project in the North Park Blocks, the event turned heads across the city as companies and organizations designed and built beautiful and creative seating and open space projects that were open to the public for one day only.

3 | Sleeping Pod Exhibition
As the unveiling event for the pods snatched the top spot in 2016, the exhibit page containing information about the projects, displayed outside PNCA for a week and a half, gained its fair share of interest, as well. The exhibit allowed the public to view the pods, learn more about the program, and participate in a series of events including an open house and public presentation. Scores of Portlanders braved multiple winter storms to participate in this exciting event, which has since recently closed.

4 | FREE HAND: A Pop-Up Exhibition by the 2016 UO Drawing Workshop
Spearheaded by Portland Architect William Tripp and colleagues at the University of Oregon in Portland, an annual hand drawing workshop is hosted at UO Portland each fall, open to UO students and the public alike. The workshop occurs over several Saturdays and “provides students hands-on experience with a variety of approaches and techniques, with emphasis on those benefits unique to drawing by hand.” This year, artwork from students and instructors of the workshop was displayed in a gallery during a free First Thursday event.

5 | Ugly Sweater Holiday Mixer
In the first collaborative event of its kind, CSI PortlandASHRAE Oregon, and the AIA Portland Emerging Professionals Committee teamed together to celebrate the Holiday season with an Ugly Sweater Holiday Mixer held at Northwest Portland’s Lightning Will. The event, aimed at emerging professionals but open to all, gave attendees an opportunity to relax and get to know other professionals in the industry outside their own discipline. The event attracted over 50 participants from the Portland area, and from around the nation as one participant flew from Wisconsin to Portland on a special trip to attend the mixer.


Extraordinary Playscapes’ opening reception. Image courtesy Design Museum Portland.

Extraordinary Playscapes’ opening reception. Image courtesy Design Museum Portland.

Top articles:

1 | AIA Portland Homes Tour!
The annual Spring tour, organized by AIA Portland and held in conjunction with Design Week Portland, showcases homes designed by some of Portland’s top architecture firms. This year’s self-guided tour highlighted a variety of housing scales, from an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to a mega apartment block. Regardless of scale, each project demonstrated the current status of housing design while offering a glimpse into its future. This article explaining the event and including images of the featured projects was the most visited page of any event or article in 2016, and was also one of the most shared on social media.

2 | Playworld and Design Museum Portland Bring New Public Play Sculpture to Portland with PlayForm 7
Earlier this Fall, Design Museum Portland kicked off Extraordinary Playscapes, a several month-long program “exploring the importance of play in childhood development while showcasing how designers translate play objectives into innovative, extraordinary and outdoor play environments.” The program revolved around an exhibition at PNCA and included a number of supplementary film screenings, panel discussions, and opportunities for free play. As part of the program, Design Museum Portland worked with playground equipment manufacturer Playworld to bring play sculpture PlayForm 7 to the North Parks Blocks for open play through early 2017. The sculpture is slated to be moved shortly to Ventura Park at SE 115th and Stark for permanent installation.

3 | 5 Reasons Architecture Students Need to Attend Professional Events
This Portland Design Events original article was written to encourage architecture and design students to take some time outside of studio to be involved in their community. It stated that while networking and community involvement can help when searching for a job, they should be done simply for the joy of doing them, a natural extension for those who love what they do and want to grow by learning from others outside of the classroom. The article gained popularity on social media, and was shared with a number of schools and AIAS chapters across the country.

4 | “Street Seats 2016” Design Competition Launched!
Portland’s Center for Architecture Design|Build Program sought to continue their Street Seats program in 2016 with the theme of “Four Seasons.” Not dissimilar from the Park(ing) Day concept, Street Seats was intended to provide high quality and beautifully-designed seating in underutilized parking spaces around Portland. While the competition announcement gained some of the most interest of the year, a disappointing number of actual entries were submitted, resulting in a cancellation of the program shortly after all submissions were received.

5 | Snøhetta: People, Process, Projects
One of the most talked-about exhibits of 2016 was on display at the Center for Architecture as Spring turned to Summer this year. The CFA teamed with Norwegian and American design firm Snøhetta to present Snøhetta: People, Process, Projects, an inside look at the firm’s culture and design philosophy. Visitors to the exhibit were encouraged to interact with and explore a number of physical models and materials from Snøhetta’s workshop, getting to know the firm behind Oregon City’s Willamette Falls Riverwalk and Portland’s then-proposed James Beard Public Market. The firm continues to be engaged with Portland as it continues work on the Riverwalk and OMSI’s Campus Master Plan.

As 2016 comes to a close and 2017 begins, we look forward to another stellar year of quality design, impeccable craft, and relentless community involvement in Portland and beyond. As always, Portland Design Events looks forward to continuing to be your go-to site to keep up with it all. We can’t wait to see you in 2017!


Cover image by Portland Design Events with images courtesy of The Center for Architecture/Jonathan Ley Photography, William Tripp, Timothy Niou, AIA Portland, and Design Museum Portland.

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