Networked Urbanism

design thinking initiatives for a better urban life

Design critics: Belinda Tato and Jose Luis Vallejo, principals of Ecosistema Urbano

In most towns and cities of the U.S. single use commercial zones dominate the landscape. This monolithic commercial model is on the decline. Strip development in the U.S. is “slowly coming to an end,” according to Edward McMahon from the Urban Land Institute. More people are online shopping and the younger populations are trending towards living in the city center in walkable neighborhoods. 1 At the Eastport Plaza in Portland, Oregon strip malls, big boxes, and parking lots dominate the 40 acre site.

Eastport Plaza is used by hundreds of customers a day. It provides a multitude of retail, restaurants and grocery. But what South East Portland lacks, is a downtown setting; walkability, public space and a mix of uses.

While many parking spaces in the parking lot are used throughout an average day, the parking lot rarely (if ever) fills up. I propose to fill these empty spaces with temporary public usages to reinvigorate the community. The temporality of uses allows many different ideas to be tested throughout the year. The community will suggest the wants and needs of their neighborhood and they could then be temporarily tested. If the program is not a success then it is removed but if a program is successful it can be implemented again and more permanently. These underutilized spaces have a great deal of potential, some possibilities could be: food carts, sport fields, playgrounds, live music, drama and mini-golf.

For the business owners in Eastport Plaza, bringing in multiple uses to their parking lots will attract more and diverse people with different interests. The more these people linger around the stores the greater the potential of revenue.

1. ”The Decline of the Tacky Strip Mall.” 2011, May, accessed Jan. 28 2014,

Current situations on an average weekend

parking lot pics-04

South East Portland Neighborhood

SE Portland-03

Eastport Plaza

SE Portland-01

No comments. Yours could be the first.

Your email will not be published.

* is a platform for sharing knowledge and design thinking experiences with the world around us, breaking through the walls of academia in an attempt to improve the society in which we live.