The Columbia River Crossing (CRC) is labeled a transportation project, but in reality it is the region's largest and most expensive urban design infrastructure project. While the project seeks to solve vehicular demands, what it should address more directly is how it can best "structure" urban development beyond the project's official limits. What happens on both sides of the Columbia is more important than the bridge that crosses the river.
If $2.6-$3.6 billion of public funds are spent on the project, maintenance of the present level of development adjacent to the project seems inappropriate given the simultaneous demand for appropriate intensification of land use within the Urban Growth Boundary. There is no reason other than politics for low-ridership station areas at the Expo Center and Delta Park to be maintained at present levels.
To explore possibilities, the present area straddling I-5 from Hayden Island to Columbia Boulevard could be developed in a design that balances sensitive environmental conditions and anticipated growth. This proposal focuses on conceptual studies for an archipelago of water-related neighborhoods that could be developed around transit-oriented stations; these neighborhoods would integrate housing, institutions, and recreational development, utilizing the best sustainable and design practices.
Rudy Barton is a Professor in Portland State University's School of Fine and Performing Arts, where he chaired the Department of Architecture from 1998 to 2005. Rudy received his Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Tulane University. He has served as architectural design critic at Tulane University, University of Oregon, Montana State University, University of Idaho, University of Washington, and University of British Columbia. Rudy has authored numerous refereed publications and curated exhibitions locally, regionally and nationally, including the PDXplore group show at PNCA in 2008. He has contributed guest columns, articles and book reviews to The Oregonian, ARCADE: The Northwest Journal for Architecture and Design, and The Daily Journal of Commerce.