It’s easy to see why The Fields Park is such a beloved hangout. Couples lollygag around the park’s perimeter, frisbee tossers flock to the large oval lawn, children dangle from the playground’s cargo nets, and French bulldogs and Labradoodles romp in the enclosed off-leash area.
With a riverfront view from its northern end and several eye-catching public artworks and sculptures, the park feels like an intentional space and a hub for the neighborhood. Sleek condos, such as The Encore, overlook the park and lend a community vibe. Ovation Coffee sits on the periphery, dispensing creamy lattes for sipping on park benches. In the stunning Cosmopolitan Tower on the park’s southern edge, you’ll find a few more choice options for snacking. A Pizzicato slice can quickly warm up a drizzly day, or try the hand-picked matcha from Tea Bar. The Cosmopolitan also houses the fantastic Catalan restaurant Can Font. Here you can end your park wanderings with a memorable full meal, or even just a glass of Cava and a plate of cured meats and Catalan bread at the scene-y bar.
If this eclectic mix sounds intentional, it’s because it is: The park’s success is rooted in a dynamic collaboration between the city, neighborhood residents, and commercial investors.
In the early aughts, rapid residential growth loomed. So Prosper Portland (formerly the Portland Development Commission) and commercial property owners collaborated to create The Fields, Tanner Springs, and Jamison Square parks to help continue Portland’s legacy of desirable green spaces.
“The parks are the Pearl’s river-centric spin on downtown’s Park Blocks concept,” says Anne Mangan of Prosper Portland. “There’s a clear link between investing in green space and economic development. Healthy, connected communities attract people and business.”
“There’s a clear link between investing in green space and economic development. Healthy, connected communities attract people and business.”
The Fields Park is the newest of the Pearl’s green spaces, and its architects leaned heavily on community input. In 2007, a group of landscape designers huddled with dozens of Pearl residents in a deserted office building for a daylong charrette (a term used for the intense effort of architectural students collectively solving a design problem).
During the charrette, designers and residents clustered into working groups. Kids chimed in with ideas. Participants walked the wide pedestrian boardwalk on Northwest 10th that connects all three Pearl parks with the Willamette River.
“In the end, we used lots of bits and pieces from the charrette,” say George Lozovoy, landscape architect and project manager at Portland Parks and Recreation. “The shape of the lawn—an ellipse—is the central organizing form, with the sidewalks and other features spiraling off like a river eddy.”
Check it out for yourself. And don’t forget your frisbee. – Ellee Thalheimer