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Site will feature large public square, mixed-use buldings, market hall -



COURTESY PHOTO - The Rockwood Rising design group created a model of what the site will look like upon completion of phase one.For architect Matt Brown, Rockwood Rising is like a rocket ship launching a satellite, the neighborhood in his analogy, up into a stable orbit.

It can’t get there without the support of the thrusters, which will eventually fall away and allow the satellite to orbit on its own.

The Rockwood neighborhood has plenty of thrusters guiding it into the future. The Gresham Redevelopment Commission advisory committee recently voted to accept a proposed design from Brown’s firm, YBA Architects, for phase one of the new look of what will become Rockwood’s neighborhood center, situated at 185th Avenue between Southeast Burnsideand Southeast Stark streets.

With the approval, the designs will go before Gresham City Council on Tuesday, July 19, for a final stamp of approval, which committee chair Joan Albertson says is likely to happen.

“The designers have done a great job keeping everyone informed throughout the process,” Albertson said. “I am sure many on the council have already seen these plans.”

The design is as ambitious as it is unique, using the resources and space available to create a layout that will draw the community together.

They focused on using inviting materials and colors, and tried to keep as many sight lines from the roadways as possible into the interior of the site.

“We want people to have a natural desire to walk across the space,” Brown said, “drawing the flow of people through and into the area.”

The basic concept is a large public square, vibrant pedestrian streets, mixed-use buildings, parking spaces for visitors and a market hall that will serve as the crown jewel.

The market will be an iconic building that will become associated with the reclaimed idea of Rockwood as a neighborhood.

The architecture design team was inspired by the idea of a lattice, invoking weaving together the diverse communities of people living all around the site.

The color palette they want to follow plays off a literal reading of the neighborhood’s name, with Western Oregon basalt playing the part of rock and Douglas Fir as the wood. They also were stirred by a photo of the faces of Rockwood, again incorporating the diversity of the neighborhood.

“We are going to have some of the most iconic buildings in East County right in the heart of Rockwood,” Albertson said.

The designs call for office, residential and retail spaces. The square will have foliage and benches throughout, as well as a splash pad and play area for kids. The roadways will have limited access by cars, though the pedestrians will have complete right-of-way within the area.

Using Torvehallerne Market in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a template, the design team envision the market with plenty of open spaces using an outer shell that in the summer can serve as a walkway and seating area. Within the market will be grocery stalls as well as small to medium-sized food vendors.

“With the market there was an informality people liked,” Brown said.

Plenty of kinks still need to be ironed out, which will happen in the coming months. The large parking lot planned for one corner of the space received mixed reviews, with a perfect scenario replacing it with a more iconic structure.

But underground parking is expensive, and would push development outside of the budget for phase one. Instead, changing the parking situation could be addressed down the road once the viability of the site had been established.

“We are just scratching the surface for costs,” Brown said, “so this is all preliminary.”

Rockwood Rising is starting to come together, and Albertson says construction should begin in about a year.

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