Pocket Park with KidsThere is no other development like Fairview Village in the Portland region or the Northwest. Not quite a city, yet decidedly not a suburb, Fairview is a town in the classic sense -- a cohesive network of individual neighborhoods built around community shopping, anchored by civic buildings and public parks, and scaled to people rather than to their cars. We wanted Fairview to be a community with the warmth and security of a small town and the energy and convenience of an urban area -- a good place to live and work. A place to call home.

post office at nightLocated in east Multnomah County, Fairview Village will contain 600 residential units with more than ten acres of retail and commercial space and 100,000 square feet of office space. Built on land previously owned by Tektronix Corporation, Fairview Village borders the existing "Old Town" residential area of the City of Fairview. The 95-acre site is bounded on the north by N.E. Halsey Street, N.E. Glisan Street to the south, and N.E. 223rd Avenue to the east. The western edge of the property is defined by N.E. 207th Avenue connector that provides direct access to Fairview Village from Interstate 84 (Exit 14).

For the past 40 years, car-oriented, stand-alone subdivision sprawl has dominated the American landscape. In these placeless subdivisions, we live isolated in look-a-like houses that might as well be anywhere. They can be located only by their relationship to roads, which have almost entirely replaced town centers and market places as our primary public spaces. Living in suburbia, we are disconnected from the landscape and from other people. Much of our time is squandered in our cars where there is scarce opportunity to interact with others. When we return home, we drive directly into our garages and step immediately into our houses. "Wait for the Start!"Rarely do we set foot on the sidewalks where we might greet neighbors, exchange news, and connect with the larger community. This failure to connect with the larger world -- this lack of community -- is one of the great deficiencies of suburban living. Fairview Village seeks to remedy this deficiency. To do this, we the development team, knew we had to change the zoning. Suburban zoning segregates retail and office space from residences, requiring people to get in their cars whenever they need anything. By contrast, the Village multi-use zoning allows a mix of retail, business, and residential activity so it's easier for people to walk or bike to local shops, amenities, and offices. As a result, fuel is conserved, air pollution reduced, and, as they travel the streets, people regularly encounter their neighbors, building the sense of security that comes with knowing the people who live around them.

We also knew that for Fairview Village to succeed as a community, it would have to break the current mold of disjointed urban development. We knew it would have to be different, but not entirely removed from accepted models of livability. We looked to the past to show us how best to approach the future, Village Streetseeking to capitalize on the strengths of self-sufficient small towns, and to avoid the mistakes of post-World War II suburban sprawl. For inspiration, we looked at notable historic garden suburbs -- Mariemont in Cincinnati, Shaker Heights in Cleveland, and Country Club District in Kansas City -- famous for blending residences with neighborhood shops. We also looked to established Portland neighborhoods such as Eastmoreland and Ladd's Addition, where mainstreet shops wrap around residential blocks, and where real estate values have zoomed well beyond the general marketplace.

Because Fairview Village is an expansion of an existing community, we knew that we needed to engage the public and key decision makers in creating a consensus-based Village plan. More than 75 stakeholders participated in our three-day design workshop, a "charrette", conducted by Bill Lennertz, that produced a regulating plan, zoning code, and architectural guidelines. We moved away from the traditional approach of putting up solitary structures on individual lots and concentrated instead on building a cohesive community.


"But a community is not something you have like a pizza. Nor is it something you can buy, as visitors to Disneyland and Williamsburg discover. It is a living organism based on a web of interdependencies... It expresses itself physically as connectedness..."  
 James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere.


Stone BridgeFairview Village is about making connections. It's about mixing houses and apartments of assorted sizes and prices to bridge the divide of age and economic status. It's about designing "third places" for informal socializing, where individuals can connect with the larger community. And, it's about creating physical connections; mixing houses with shops, churches, and government buildings to which residents can easily walk; and, constructing a network of continuous walkways and streets so residents can easily reach other parts of the Village.

Crowd at Village StreetFairview's integrated, multi-use design blends shops and neighborhood services: Fairview City Hall, a U.S. Post Office, Woodland Elementary School, a Preschool, Fitness Center, County Library, TARGET, and soon, more offices, restaurants, and retail. These are connected by a continuous system of sidewalks and footpaths so that residents are no more than a five-minute walk from work, shopping, and recreation. Pedestrian improvements on NE Halsey Street connect "Old Town" Fairview with the Village. The Village also offers special footpaths for children so they can walk to school without crossing a busy street. This means parents are freed from having to chauffeur their children everywhere. It also means freedom for our elders who need not fear being isolated and dependent on others for transportation when they can no longer drive.

On the TrailsFairview residents also have a selection of different mobility options. One of our main goals is to get people out of their cars and back on the streets. Village streets are designed for walkers and bicycle riders as well as motorists. Additionally, over 30 acres of conservation lands, adjacent to the Village, provide attractive forested areas through which the Salish Trail System meanders. The trails attract walkers, joggers, and those in need of a lazy afternoon of fishing at the Salish Ponds.

Two major bus lines serve the Village with easy access to downtown Gresham and a direct link to the regional light rail system. The inclusion of office space in the Village will make working at home an option, freeing them from the burden of long commutes. Most Village residents will own cars, although one could live here without one. Fairview Village is about having the freedom to make these choices -- choices that are not available to persons living in suburbia.

Gum Drop ParkAnother component of community is strong identification with specific neighborhoods. Each Village neighborhood has a pocket park located within a two-minute walk of every home. The parks are designed to bring people together. They are places where families picnic, where children toss Frisbees, and chase after dogs. Each pocket park is distinguished by a special landmark feature - a brick plaza, a fountain, or a special tree variety - to give each neighborhood a separate character. Unlike most suburban developments - where one subdivision enclave looks just like the next - Fairview Village is made up of distinct neighborhoods. Fairview streets are also designed to give people a sense of place. In contrast to the disorienting, cul-de-sac patterns in many subdivisions, streets at Fairview end with a visual reference point - a significant feature like a park, a bridge, or a building. Every street terminates with a vista, not a garage door!

Parker House with KidsThe sense of community is further strengthened by diversity of age and socioeconomics. Like older towns that accommodate the full range of the population's needs, Fairview Village offers a broad variety of housing choices -- single family homes, rowhouses, townhomes, flats above garages, apartments over shops, garden apartments, and senior living opportunities. At Fairview, every generation of a family can live in the same neighborhood. By contrast, in most single family suburban developments, any change to one's personal circumstances requires moving to a totally different neighborhood. This perpetual uprooting isolates individuals, ruptures family life, and, ultimately, robs communities of their memories. Community is more than just a place to live. It's about feeling a sense of belonging. In his book, "The Great Good Place", sociologist Ray Oldenburg identifies the need for "third places." In addition to the home and the work place, people need public places where they can meet to relax and catch up on "the latest". Urban living is about sustaining human contact. It's about running into old and new friends. At Fairview, we are creating the type of environment where these third places flourish... whether it's at the gym, the library, the coffee shop, public hearings at City Hall, jogging on the nature trails, or picnicking in the various parks.

In much of suburbia, we have all but lost what has been called the "quintessential urban pleasure" -- to walk along the streets of our neighborhoods and meet other people. Public spaces at Fairview Village -- including the streets, parks, and squares -- are designed to be the focus for the conduct of daily living. Throughout the Village, the street and sidewalk design is intended to foster "low-tech interactions," where residents stroll after dinner and stop to chat with neighbors. The ritual of watching other people, being watched, and chatting is the core of the social promenade or "passeggiata," as it's called in Italy. This tradition of the evening stroll -- that is a part of daily life in many parts of the world -- thrives in Fairview!

We believe that good neighborhoods deserve good architecture. The Village homes, classical in design and built with solid, authentic materials, are meant to endure over time and serve many generations. To guarantee superior design, we developed a set of Village design guidelines that conform to the regional craftsman vernacular style of the 1890s to 1940s. The guidelines -- which specify such items as the pitch of the roof, scale of the chimney, window type, and ceiling height -- ensure that the houses behave in a similar, harmonious manner to form a cohesive neighborhood. Thus, no one house competes with another for attention. Instead, they all work together to shape the edges of the public streets. The same value system shapes all Village residences so that scrupulous attention to design is applied just as rigorously to the multi-family options.

For nearly two centuries, American cities built beautiful public buildings. This country has a long legacy of city halls, post offices, libraries, and schools that exhibit craftsmanship, composition, and drama. But, during the decades following World War II, we seemed to forget everything we knew about building fine civic architecture. Fairview Village revives the tradition of great public buildings.

Picnic by City HallWhereas private commerce is what drives Market Square, the commerce of the city is conducted at Village Street, that features Fairview City Hall, Fairview Columbia Library, a myriad number of shops and businesses, and Fairview Community Park...complete with bandstand. Here, people gather for civic functions and celebrations -- Fourth of July festivities, outdoor concerts, and picnics.

The city's commitment to move their city hall to the center of the Village was a critical piece of the public/private partnership that made Fairview Village possible. Fairview City Hall celebrates the idea of governance. The council room is lit during evening sessions so citizens see Fairview's “elders” at work. The line of clerestory windows is designed to radiate light like a beacon on a lighthouse.

The overall Village design -- emphasizing a diverse mix of land uses within walking range of each other, smaller lot sizes, along with public gathering spots, strong civic buildings, and all interconnected by a comprehensive street and walkway system -- features many ingredients of the so-called "traditional neighborhood development" or new urbanism. In fact, some of the primary planners and architects involved in designing the Village -- including one of Fairview's town architects, William Dennis and town planner, Bill Lennertz, both worked for the founders of the New Urbanist town planning movement -- the husband and wife team of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

However, when we first conceptualized Fairview Village, our goal was not to create a neotraditional town. Our plan was to create a good place to live, imbued by a common value system that came before us, and that will last beyond us. We aimed to create a place that we recognize as home.


"I have seen a lot of scenery in my life, but I have seen nothing so tempting as a home for man than this Oregon country... Are you good enough to have this country in your possession? Have you got enough intelligence, imagination and cooperation among you to make the best use of these opportunities?"
Lewis Mumford, from an address to the Portland City Club, 1938.


 

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