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.
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.
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, seeking
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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
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
Lewis Mumford, from an
address to the Portland City Club, 1938.