The current Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project is so emblematic and symbolically important because it is in the center of a developed geological plain with two major rivers converging. This new investment in infrastructure MUST support a new, more dense, and efficient development pattern for the 21st century. The area of "Aquitania" contains everything we need to have a successful metropolis: broad variety of housing types; fertile land for farming; plentiful fresh water; and established sources of power. What it needs is more efficiency and planning clarity. We can achieve that by retaining the stock of housing we have and adding new communities of higher density to capitalize on our current and developing infrastructure investments. The CRC and its ramps and feeder roads should be designed as an urban centerpiece in a new community: Aquitania. Portland and Vancouver need to 're-center'. We need a new model. This is a design challenge.
I will be attempting to illustrate the conceptual thinking and physical implications of building on the momentum of this important project and suggest ways of improving the viability of our growing metropolitan area. My concern is with affecting and enriching the processes and conceptual framework in which design decisions regarding the CRC are made.
Mike McCulloch, AIA, is an architect, urban designer, developer, and a founding member of PDXplore. Mike has been an advocate for design excellence at all levels, from his many years of work as lead designer for building projects in higher education, medicine, social services, and the arts. He served on the Portland Design Commission from 1996 to 2007, the last five years as its chair. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Architecture Foundation of Oregon, and encourages the PDXplore group to look at the community from 40,000 feet, using design resources to affect positive change.