Eastbank Esplanade Urban Markers

Merit Award

The Urban Marker project is part of the newly created Eastbank Esplanade, a 1.3-mile riverfront pedestrian and bicycle corridor funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland. The Urban Markers symbolically connect the Eastbank Esplanade to adjacent residential neighborhoods isolated from the river by construction of the interstate highway in the early 1960s. Twenty-foot tall stainless steel structures mark the 13 intersections where city streets historically met the riverfront; the Urban Markers incorporate street signs, luminaires, and story panels. Seventeen story panels chronicle the history and evolution of the riverfront while providing a context for better public understanding of the transportation and land use choices that create livable cities. Each of the Urban Marker story panels is seen in juxtaposition with architectural remnants of the area's industrial past. Where possible, historic images are closely matched to the current views.

This project demonstrates the power of design to stimulate public debate and to nurture informed choices about future urban infrastructure of the places we live and work. As a footnote, the opening of the Eastbank Esplanade and the installation of the Urban Marker project have stimulated an examination of options for relocating the interstate highway to allow redevelopment of Portland's central waterfront.

Jury Comments: 

"This project demonstrates the power of EGD to shape and support community. I get a new understanding of the impact of bridges."

"A wonderful way to incorporate interpretive design, wayfinding and lighting."

"This project is significant in its power to help change a whole city's perspective of a run-down and historically ill-considered side of town – no small task."

Design Firm: 

Mayer/Reed

Client: 

Portland Development Commission

Location City: 

Portland, Oregon

Project Area: 

N/A

Open Date: 

N/A

Project Budget: 

N/A

Photo Credits: 

N/A

Design Team: 

Michael Reed (Principal in Charge), Michael Reed, Beverly Eichenlaub, Wesley Rittenberry, Rob Wente

Consultants: 

Stephen Beckham, PhD, Lewis & Clark College (historical research), Willamette River Bridge Research, Marty Mitchell, ClearWater West (ecology research)

Fabricators: 

Winsor Fireform, Decorative Metal Services

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