Welcome to Open Architecture Portland! Through the spirit of collaboration, OAC PDX strives to empower local communities in need by facilitating appropriate design solutions with lasting benefit and a sustainable mindset. As an organization founded upon design advocacy, OAC PDX offers its design services pro-bono with the intent that these services should lead to paid work for the profession.


OACpdx has been in operation since March of 2010. Since then, the chapter has completed 10 design projects, including 5 built projects, hosted multiple fundraising and community events, and built incredible lasting partnerships within the local non-profit and design communities.

“The experience of working with AFHpdx allowed our project to exceed expectations and give our community the means to visualize and actualize their own successes. Our mission, and they way we achieve it, are forever elevated by the contribution and the dedication of this amazing resource.” -Dave Lowe

  • 5 Board Members
  • 331 Volunteers
  • 10 Completed Projects

Seeds of Community Garden Kitchen

The Seeds of Harmony Community Garden provides a sustainable, affordable food source for over 300 residents of North Portland. The garden is a uniting force within this diverse neighborhood, whose residents represent a variety of cultures, income levels, and backgrounds. In January of 2012, 

Seeds of Harmony community partnered with OAC Portland to create a community gathering space and outdoor kitchen for gardeners to call their own. Our AFH Portland project team collaborated closely with Seeds of Harmony gardeners to develop a Community Kitchen design that will expand garden activities and promote the garden as a hub of community engagement. Construction on the project broke ground in Summer 2014, with Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI) providing construction labor pro bono through their Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class. Additional OTI classes completed the structure, and OAC Portland is holding build days in Spring/Summer of 2016 to finish remaining details.

“I was a student when I first joined OACpdx, and joining the organization provided me with an invaluable opportunity to get hands on design experience and make a difference in my community. Three years later, I’ve co-managed two projects (including the Seeds of Harmony Project), am involved in chapter leadership, and have developed a love of volunteer/nonprofit work that I will carry into future endeavors.” -Sarah Tiffany-Appleton

  • 7 Active Volunteers
  • 1 Fundraiser
  • 3 Mosaic Tile Parties 

Vernon IB World School Build

Vernon IB World School provides education for the whole child. Helping construct school benches/ play areas for the children to eat or play on, with the help of our local volunteers. The collective environmental effort remarkably transformed the playground into a play space that now responsibly manages storm water and offers space for the newly planted trees to thrive. The new trees and breaks in the concrete also reduce the volume of water flowing through gutters and along roads after a storm resulting in less runoff, as well as cleaner water entering local rivers and lakes. October 2016

Get Involved!

OACpdx is always looking for new community partners to work with as well as volunteers to join our mission. While many of our volunteers work in Architecture, we need volunteers with all kinds of skills and backgrounds in order to function and thrive. We believe a cross-disciplinary approach makes our projects better and more impactful. If you are a non-profit with an awesome project idea and you would like to request design services from OACpdx, or if you are an individual with a passion 

for design advocacy and want to volunteer your time/services, you can contact the OAC chapter at OpenArchitecturePDX@gmail.com. You can also join us at one of our monthly chapter meetings which occur every 2nd Thursday of the month from 6:30-8pm. The location changes occasionally (we like to keep things fresh and exciting!) so check our facebook page www.facebook.com/openarchitectureportland for the most up to date info on our meetings, events and projects.

“I got involved with OAC Portland because of my interest in humanitarian work in the realm of landscape architecture and architecture. There is not an organization made up of landscape architects that are doing similar humanitarian work, so when I found out about OAC Portland I found that there were opportunities to contribute to this realm through OAC.” – Scott Sutton

Made resilient




Made Resilient Studio Description OAC Portland’s Disaster Resiliency Studio strives to better prepare our community before, during and after a natural disaster by: 

1. Creating a network of connections and resources between community groups and city organizations at both local and regional scales.

2. Promoting awareness by educating and engaging the community through creative design solutions.

By initiating the conversation about disaster preparedness and resiliency we hope to help mobilize our community into being proactive about preparing for disasters. These steps will help facilitate faster communication within the city and neighboring communities and better equip our city to successfully respond to an actual event.

“On June 5th, 2014 Gallery 135 & Open Architecture Portland joined together for an evening of Art, Design and Community Discussion as we work together to envision a more resilient Portland. The Art Show and Silent Auction coincided with the Pearl District’s First Thursday Events to present a collection of local artists’ responses to the idea of a Resilient Portland: “Can disasters serve as harbingers for positive change? What does a resilient city look look? 

  • 10 Volunteers
  • 20+ Agencies Partnered
  • 3 Community Events


Open Architecture PDX has been working with Our United Villages on the redesign of their Commons Space at the ReBuilding Center in Portland’s Mississipi neighborhood. The team designed and constructed a prototype kiosk to display multimedia content to help OUV better communicate the mission behind the Re Building Center. 

The Community feedback event in July 2015 was a great success and the remaining kiosks are currently under construction. The project also included analysis and graphic design to improve way finding as well as design of work stations, a video booth and a kids kiosk which will form phase two.

“Inspiring people to value and discover existing resources to strengthen the social and environmental vitality of communities.”-OUV Mission Statement

  • 7 Active Volunteers
  • 10+ Build Days
  • 850.5 Volunteer Hours Spent

PDX Parking

Why wouldn’t you take advantage of the opportunity to take over a parking space to create a temporary park?! Open Architecture PDX did just that last summer as part of the national Park(ing) Day 2016. Passers by enjoyed foosball, snacks and art installations created in-situ from materials donated by the ReBuilding Center. It was a beautiful fun day and a great opportunity to interact with a community we worked with as part of the Envision Division project. A big thank you goes to Peter Meijer Architects and Waterleaf Architecture, both of whome donated their employees’ time to allow this day to happen.

“I loved that there was something for all ages and that instead of bringing finished artworks to install, there were materials to create with throughout the day. My two year old loved the makeshift Foosball!” -Caroline Hather

  • 3 Parking Spaces Taken Over
  • 16 Cupboards doors re-purposed
  • 2 Firms Donating Time

Bike Path Design Competition

Loop PDX Competition Entry Has Been Submitted! For the month of February 2016, seven dedicated volunteers spent their weekends creating a proposal for the John Yeon Center’s Loop PDX Competition. The competition called for a clear, beautiful, safe, and provocative plan for a 6-mile bike and pedestrian loop through Portland. The finalists will present during Design Week 2016 and we’ll post our own proposal as soon as those finalists have been announced.

Goals of Competition:

  • Amplify neighborhood character
  • Create recreation opportunities
  • Connect the inner and outer city
  • Invite conversations between strangers
  • Create memories 
  • Experiment
  • Play
  • Make new public places fast 
  • Re-envision the city
  • —————————–
  • 7 OAC Volunteers
  • 20,000 to the Winning Design/Proposal

Growing Gardens

In November 2014, OAC Portland partnered with nonprofit “Growing Gardens” to design an outdoor classroom for the newly-created community garden at Stephens Creek Crossing, an affordable housing complex. Our project team worked closely with residents to develop a design that fit the community’s vision: a space to gather, engage with neighbors, and learn gardening skills. 

In November 2015, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI) came on board to provide pro bono construction services as a part of their pre-apprenticeship program for women. The class got a start on the structure, and in January 2016 a second class arrived to finish the job. The Stephens Creek Crossing Outdoor Classroom is expected to be fully functional by summer 2016.

“AFHpdx/OACpdx was helpful at every turn; I felt comfortable approaching them with any question, and they were always available. They really cared about the community and the community’s input, and they were willing to jump through hoops to address all of the community’s concerns.”-Laicy Wester

  • 6 Volunteers
  • 5+ Design Meetings
  • 8 Build Days

The MacDonald Center Courtyard

We've helping replace some of the old and bad patio cobble stone at the the MacDonlad Center. With our volunteers we taught how to lay block walls and sledging pavers. - August 2013