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Support the Movement for Main Streets! This is the first major update in nearly 30 years to the city-wide Design Standards and Guidelines and we're asking everyone to come out and weigh in or just show up to show your support for better design and community voice in how we grow as a city.

Learn more on our Policy Page...


13 undesignated historic districts are at risk without careful design standards and guidelines. These areas will not have Design Commission Review and are vulnerable to redevelopment without a nod to their character giving features. Future work may address these but we have created Main Street Design Guidelines that can be used now if we advocate. You can testify with our easy advocacy form, via the city's map app or just come to show there is a groundswell of interest in better design that is respectful of our history while we embrace our future needs of the city. Its not an either or, its a both/and.


Wear red to make yourself and our community love for these important places visible!


Planning Commission Hearing
on Citywide Design 
October 22nd, 5 pm
1900 SW 4th St, 2nd Floor
Wear red to make yourself and our community love for these important places visible!

ADD IT UP:  Pattern, Place + Guiding with Grace

Join PDX Main Streets for a photography exhibit depicting one of our most ionic streetcar-era main streets. There is a “Pattern Language” that is found in all of our Portland streetcar-era main streets. This event will include music, wine, beer and food and a discussion on priorities and community goals for new design directions in the midst of major design policy changes. Are things adding up to create places that are more than the sum of their parts? What are the tools we need to guide, measure and track tradoffs of public goods and community priorities as we grow? 

Learn More:


Portland is known to be a city of many villages and each has a unifying main street with similar design patterns to those seen in the exhibit.  


Once you begin to see the patterns - you will see them everywhere – Belmont, Division, Mississippi, Fremont, Sellwood, Broadway, Alberta, Montavilla, and others across the city as well as throughout downtown. These patterns can work at small scales or very tall buildings. These show up in similar ways yet with a variety of flavors/styles – yet although each building is different, they relate because they all have a common main street set of design patterns. These buildings weren’t built by architects but often by immigrants who demonstrated their culture through their craft. Their art and innovation is seen best at the pedestrian scale – tile work at the entry, subtle brick patterning, hand-carved dividers on clerestory windows, an elegant arch, the harmonious arrangement of a façade, etc.


There are subtle differences but the foundation of these places is important to learn from first so that while we grow our city up and not out – we do it with care and sensitivity to the big “C’s” – context – character – compatibility.

Come out and support PDX Main Streets

First Friday Art Exhibit & Music Show
Friday, November 1, 2019, 5-9 pm
Floyd's Downtown

Design Walking Tour/Community Meeting 2 on Sellwood-Moreland Design, Development + Preservation | Thursday, July 25, 2019, 6:30-8:30 PM | SMILE Station


Workshop: Design, Development + Preservation in Sellwood-Moreland | Thursday, June 30, 2019, 6:00-8:30 PM |

SMILE Station

Design Week Event: "Sustaining Main Streets + Cultural Identity"

Historic Hawthorne photography exhibit, speakers, Main St Design Awards, and launch party celebration as we scale up our past Division Design Initiative into a city-wide project under our new name as the Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (aka PDX Main Streets).  | Thursday, April 11, 2019, 5:00–8:00 PM

A free event at the Architectural Heritage Center

Design Week Event: Workshop on Design for Affordability, Resiliency + Sustainability | Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 3-6 PM

New Buildings Institute, 623 SW Oak Street

Walking Tour 2: Lower Hawthorne Design, Development + Preservation  | Saturday, February 30, 2019, 10 AM

Walking Tour 1: Upper Hawthorne Design, Development + Preservation | Saturday, February 23, 2019, 10 AM


Workshop 2: Hawthorne Visioning for Design, Development + PreservationThursday, January 24, 2019, 6:00-8:30 PM


Workshop 1: Hawthorne Visioning for Design, Development + Preservation |  Thursday, November 29, 2018, 6:00-8:30 PM


(many more on our old website divisiondesigninitiative.org)


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