Highest award to given to downtown Portland project
by: Tribune File Photo TriMet's Transit Mall renovation project that added MAX trains and extended the mall will be honored by a national group of architects.

The Portland Transit Mall Revitalization Project will be honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects at its 2011 Annual Meeting and Expo next month.

The ASLA will give the project a General Design Category Award, the organization's highest honor.

In choosing the project, the ASLA professional awards jury said, 'They have taken a good idea and made it even better. It's a great expenditure of public money and so far ahead of what anyone else is doing. It's another example of Portland continuing to stay ahead. They were unafraid of taking out what didn't work and fixing it, which is difficult to do in cities. '

The project was the downtown Portland portion of the Interstate 205/Portland Mall MAX Project that opened in September 2009. Portland Mall work included a new light-rail line from the south end of the Steel Bridge past Union Station to the southern edge of Portland State University. Streets and sidewalks in the downtown project area were also renovated as part of the project.

The original version of the mall was designed in 1976 to include a north-south MAX line with bus connections at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Talking about the renovations, the ASLA says, 'The Portland Mall, a landscape architecture legacy project and icon for progressive urban planning and design, has been transformed into a Great Street. Today it extends the entire length of downtown Portland, mixes multiple modes of transportation, stimulates adjacent development and re-establishes itself as Portland's civic spine. A new benchmark in design, place making and infrastructure for the 21st century - the Portland Mall represents the region's commitment to civic space, vital urban centers and sustainable transportation.'

The I-205 portion included a MAX extension from the Gateway Transit Center to the Clackamas Town Center. The total cost of the project was $575.7 million, with the federal government paying most of it. Other funding partners included the State of Oregon, Metro, TriMet, Clackamas County, the City of Portland and PSU.

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 15,000 members in 48 professional chapters and 68 student chapters. The society's mission is to lead, to educate and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.

The 2011 Annual Meeting and Expo is scheduled for the first week of November at the San Diego Convention Center. Numerous other projects around the country will also receive awards there.

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