Sunday, June 09, 2013

Oregon Convention Center Plaza

Oregon Convention Center Plaza
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Today's adventure takes us to the Oregon Convention Center Plaza, the new park across the street from the convention center itself. This block is owned by the Portland Development Commission, and was originally slated to be a large "headquarters" hotel attached to the convention center. Which we're told we need because all the other competing convention centers have one. I have very little insight into the convention industry, so this may actually be true as far as I know. In any case, the project was killed a few years ago, by the price tag, entrenched local hotel interests, and general public skepticism about the project. So instead they built this outdoor event space, to be used mostly in connection with conventions across the street. An sales brochure for the plaza notes it has adjustable lighting, lots of electrical outlets and water hookups, and other features an ordinary public plaza (like, say, Pioneer Courthouse Square) wouldn't offer.

Oregon Convention Center Plaza

A key thing to note here is that the Powers That Be haven't completely given up on building a hotel here. Since the plaza may yet turn out to be temporary (like the PDC's Block 47 a few blocks north of here), they appear to have built it on a tight budget, resulting in a fairly generic and cheap-looking space. If you're holding an outdoor convention-style event, I suppose it's actually an upside when your space is sort of a blank slate and you don't have fountains and statues and big trees and so forth to work around. This summer the plaza's also going to host "Plaza Palooza", a free summer concert series. It seems like it would also be ideal for hosting a farmer's market or a food cart pod, though I'm not sure enough people live or work in the vicinity to make either one economically viable here.

Oregon Convention Center Plaza

When I walked through, though, there were no events going on, and I have to say the plaza doesn't work so well as a general-purpose public park. I realize that's completely missing the point of the place, but it's going to be event-less like this the vast majority of the time, so I think it's fair to comment on it. The design doesn't invite people to walk through, or to linger. There's no signage letting people know it's a park, and then there's nowhere to sit, and if I recall correctly there aren't even any trash bins. No art, no fountains, not much in the way of flowers. It wasn't long at all before I ran out of things to take photos of, and I wandered off to find a more interesting subject. Maybe they just don't want the public to get too attached to the place. I dunno.

Oregon Convention Center Plaza Oregon Convention Center Plaza Oregon Convention Center Plaza Oregon Convention Center Plaza

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