American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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The 35-block Lloyd District plays a key role in the region due to its strategic location on Portland’s east side, its access to major transportation facilities and the presence of three major regional attractors: the Rose Quarter sports and entertainment venue, the Lloyd Center shopping mall, and the Oregon Convention Center. The Plan focuses on the geographic center of the Lloyd District which is presently made up of commercial office, retail, parking and multi-family housing.

The Plan breaks new ground with its use of Predevelopment Metrics to establish baseline environmental performance criteria. It re-establishes wildlife connectivity through the creation of partial habitat corridors and forest patches linking the Lloyd Crossing area with significant adjacent habitats such as the Willamette River and Sullivan’s Gulch.
The Plan envisions a “water neutral” Lloyd Crossing neighborhood that minimizes reliance on imported water, and radically reduces demand for off-site wastewater treatment systems. The area would live within the average annual rainfall budget that falls on the site for its potable water consumption with all stormwater and wastewater treated on-site.
The Plan’s energy vision for Lloyd Crossing in the year 2050 is a vital, attractive urban community that has achieved a neutral carbon balance by implementing a series of incremental energy efficiency strategies, both on-site and off-site. These strategies work together to reduce the neighborhood’s reliance on non-renewable sources of power, increase its utilization of available solar energy, and generate cost savings that can be reinvested in other areas.
The Plan’s placemaking vision for Lloyd Crossing is a neighborhood that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable, in which development capacity has been preserved in order to leverage urban infrastructure and mass transit, and which has successfully integrated sustainable technologies and concepts into a pedestrian-friendly urban fabric with a unique identity.

Lloyd Crossing Urban Design Plan, Portland, OR
Mithun Architects + Designers + Planners, Seattle, WA
Landscape Architecture Consultants: Greenworks, Portland, OR

"Beautifully, understandably illustrated. . . analysis is very good. . .so applicable to other places, great implications well beyond Lloyd Crossing. . . significant. . .looks at more agendas than customary, including wildlife and water."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

Imagine an underutilized inner-city neighborhood transformed into a vibrant, attractive, and highly desirable place to live and work where the entire 35-block ecosystem mimics the behavior of a pristine forest, even as the area’s population and built space increase fivefold. Now picture a development built by both public and private dollars returning positive cash flow that is invested back into advancing this development’s sustainable goals each year. The Portland (Oregon) Development Commission (PDC) dreamed of such an environmental and financially sustainable place; the Lloyd Crossing Sustainable Urban Design Plan not only proved that it could be built, but created a new model for urban planners worldwide.

Portland is a community that treasures its natural environment. Sustainable development and the growth of the community’s green economy are core values that drive the PDC’s vision of the region’s future. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, the Lloyd Crossing plan dramatizes how urban planning can embrace these values, combine them with the realities of 21st Century urban transportation and utility systems and business and marketing drivers, and lead the development of a community that reduces its environmental impact, even as it grows. The result is a visionary plan that will guide the future of a development with low environmental impact and high economic potential that creates significant value for property owners, the community, and the environment.

The Lloyd Crossing plan demonstrates how the rate of environmental impact can be reversed as density increases. It establishes metrics based on pre-development conditions when the Lloyd District was forested—the highest standards possible. It outlines a methodology to achieve these pre-development conditions by restoring habitat levels for fish, fowl and mammals; implementing water-neutral and carbon-neutral resource strategies; and developing energy systems and strategies that increase the use of renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

The plan provides a dynamic financial model for evaluating sustainability strategies that is flexible and fully scalable, from building to regional level. It describes how operational savings from sustainable strategies can be reinvested to fund infrastructure improvements (with a percentage of savings returned to landowners to encourage private investment). It identifies existing and potential new funding sources such as tax increment financing, system development charges, new market tax credits, and federal and state tax incentives. Finally, it outlines a branding strategy for a “healthy urban” environment that establishes a unique identity for the neighborhood, attracting residents and businesses, and increasing private property values and resulting public tax revenues long term. All of these tools respond to the need to support and encourage the private/public collaboration necessary to make the Lloyd Crossing dream a reality.

The Lloyd Crossing Sustainable Urban Design Plan demonstrates what can be done when creative minds bring together community leaders, designers, planners, engineers, and economists and ask, “What if?” The result is an exciting, dramatic step forward for urban planning and a practical model for tackling some of the world’s most difficult environmental challenges.

The Lloyd Crossing Sustainable Urban Design Plan introduces dramatic advancements in sustainable urban planning at three levels. The plan begins with a new premise: create a development of 10 million square feet that not only responds in the environment as if it is a pristine, undeveloped forest, but is financially sustainable over the long-term. Secondly, the plan introduces a methodology for benchmarking and measuring habitat, water, and energy use, and for planning an urban environment that mimics natural systems and reduces the development’s net environmental impact over time. Rather than laying environmental objectives over the planning process, it begins with environmental sustainability as the primary goal.

Most urban planning still assumes the continuance of large scale, inflexible, and separate utilities. The Lloyd Crossing plan looks ahead to a future in which 21st Century urban habitat, water, and energy systems are closely interconnected, and which differ substantially from those of the previous century. It then goes beyond traditional green building-level strategies to implement block- and neighborhood-wide sustainable systems and infrastructure, including:

  • Shared water treatment systems for non-potable water reuse
  • Public open space and restored habitat “patches” in streetscape environments that begin to reestablish and reconnect habitat corridors
  • Renewable energy systems and resources such as wind power, photovoltaic systems, and fuel cells, and
  • A shared “thermal loop” system to balance heating loads between complementary uses.

Finally, it takes a fresh approach positioning the urban planner as the leader of a multidisciplinary team committed to building an exciting place with high goals for environmental performance and financial success.

The plan demonstrates how sustainable development values can create an exciting project with a unique brand and appeal and result in significant and sustained environmental, financial, and social success, regardless of scale. Second, the plan introduces the concept of “predevelopment metrics,” which are baseline environmental performance parameters based on the original state of the property that can be used to measure the success of sustainable development strategies. Third, the plan establishes a unique financial framework that illustrates how environmental efficiency savings can create significant cash flow back into the project. This framework includes a methodology for evaluating the economic potential of various combinations of environmental systems and strategies, as well. By demonstrating positive investment returns, this framework can be used to motivate long-term private and public investment. Finally, these evaluation tools and approaches are easily scaled up or down to apply to a wide range of projects including buildings, blocks, campus-type developments, institutions, neighborhoods, municipalities, or entire regions.

The plan was developed through a collaborative process, rare in its breadth and balance of interests. From the outset, the plan’s exciting and unique vision attracted some of the region’s top experts in planning, landscape architecture, architecture, civil and mechanical engineering, neighborhood energy analysis, marketing and branding, real estate development, construction, and financial analysis. All contributed extensively, studying local context and reviewing case studies of sustainable communities throughout Europe. The resulting document employs an innovative series of intuitive graphics to explain the interaction of complex environmental systems and the impact of selected combinations of strategies over the 45-year study period. The plan is already generating interest from planners and architects from around the country.

In 2001, the Portland Development Commission established a city-wide vision based on broad objectives for green development. It conceived of the Lloyd District as a vibrant mixed-use urban neighborhood with high density, a distinct identity, an optimal network of shared building systems, and a variety of transportation options. From the outset the plan for this 35-block area was designed to provide a model that the PDC could utilize throughout the city. To be successful, its environmental, financial and marketing strategies had to be based on a thorough understanding of factors that could affect their outcome. As a result, the effort involved a broad range of experts, deep research, and creativity. Scalability was key, but so was long-term financial success. Thus, the plan creates incentives for public/private partnerships and mechanisms for sustaining this effort, including a Resource Management Association that implements the sustainable development strategies and selects the sources of revenue to build and maintain district-wide green infrastructure into the future.

The Lloyd Crossing plan would not have been a success without lively input from its stakeholders. From the outset, a Project Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee provided monthly forums for discussion and feedback to the consultant team. The vision for the Sustainable Urban Design Plan was conceived and refined through a series of interviews, meetings, background research, and collaborative work sessions with both of these groups. The committees included representatives from local neighborhood groups, local landowners, and business associations, as well as members from Portland’s Development Commission, Bureau of Planning, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Services, and the Office of Sustainable Development.

The ability to think broadly, to recognize the value from a wide variety of disciplines and to understand how to engage them was absolutely key to the success of this plan. Together, in-house and outside planning and architectural staff organized and led the process to integrate infrastructure and economic development goals and to determine the development metrics. They identified the many layers of expertise required, designed a successful work plan, and served as the umbrella linking all outside consultants and the two committees of community stakeholders. Specific tasks included evaluating the existing public policy framework, utility infrastructure, energy systems and utility networks, habitat, and transportation needs, and making recommendations for plan implementation.

In order to create, design and finance new district-wide green strategies a new operational and funding mechanism was required. A new entity called the Resource Management Association (RMA) was designed to implement the green strategies for this district as part of the Sustainable Urban Design Plan. The RMA would engage in a variety of tasks ranging from the financing and coordination of public grants to the implementation of district-wide energy, water and the creation of green infrastructure. A key concept of the RMA is to use the incremental savings from the high performing energy and water systems to finance the capital costs for new green infrastructure throughout the district.

The most exciting step was combining the metrics, payback and design: Finding new forms that reflected and expressed the water, solar and wind functions in the infrastructure forms. New forms were created for intersections, the wastewater treatment became part of the central urban space.

When this project began, neither the PDC nor the consultants knew whether it was possible to achieve a development that was both environmentally and financially sustainable, much less one that met our very aggressive performance standards. We learned that through an integrated approach, we could conceive a plan that meets the highest level of environmental performance, generates positive returns, and creates a unique urban neighborhood. Even though implementation of the vision will require strong public/private partnerships, patient investors, and a long-term perspective, the plan has already generated support and excitement. The PDC and major landowners are committed to funding the next phases of study to make the catalyst project a reality. A successful project could truly change the paradigm of sustainable urban design and effect positive lasting change throughout our world.


The Catalyst Project consists of a public and private component, and shared infrastructure components which incorporate many of the recommendations contained in the Plan. The systems and strategies are expressed in ways that give the neighborhood a unique identity and serve to educate residents and visitors about environmental stewardship.
As density increases over time, the Plan demonstrates that the neighborhood can achieve carbon and water balance within a financially responsible framework that generates a positive cash flow; it calls for the formation of a Resource Management Association to implement sustainable development strategies and manage revenue sources to build and maintain district-wide green infrastructure throughout the study area.
This aerial view of the Catalyst Project illustrates two potential sites for a green high-rise residential tower as well as dedicated public open space, a shared wastewater filtration and treatment system, and streetscape improvements contributing to habitat and water sustainability goals.
The neighborhood park is intended as an icon for the larger goals and concepts of the Lloyd Crossing area. It will provide a staging area for the wastewater treatment system, a local café, an outdoor living room for the neighborhood, and habitat for many species.
The Lloyd Crossing Catalyst Project is a mixed-use development incorporating many of the concepts and strategies outlined in the Plan for open space, habitat, water and energy, and which serves as a successful example of visionary sustainable planning and design for the study area.
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