Every Month PelotonLabs founder Liz Trice interviews a Peloton member for The West End News. This month Liz caught up with Addy Smith-Reiman, the Executive Director of Portland Society for Architecture to discuss the complete city.
What does the Portland Society of Architecture do?
PSA is a non-profit that encourages innovation and vision in the built environment of Portland through education, advocacy, and engagement with community members, design professionals, and civic leaders. We’ve been around for 14 years, and are a collection of architects, landscape architects, engineers, and civic minded activists. We hold design competitions, create curriculum for high school programs on urban design, host community forums, tour construction sites, and host events to network and celebrate the built environment at different stages.
I’m a part-time staff, so it’s a herculean task for volunteers and board members to manifest ideas and projects.
What do you mean by “the built environment”?
Anything around you that has human intervention: sidewalks, architecture, parks, streets . . . the rhythm and articulations of a constructed world.
What is the Complete City?
The Complete City started out in 2017 as a grassroots mapping project to collect data about Portland that was accessible to all. We wanted to ask people who work, play, and live here what they love, what they want to see stay the same, what they want to change.
Inspired by Becky Cooper’s project Mapping Manhattan, where Cooper handed out self-addressed stamped cards that were letter pressed with an outline map of Manhattan and asked people to map their memories, filling it with whatever was meaningful to them. One of our board members, Alyssa Phanitdasack, wanted to do this in Portland … and we thought it was a great idea to engage as many people of all ages and backgrounds first.
Alyssa designed a very simple elegant map in illustrator, we printed 5,000 of them, and distributed them as widely as we could: to the Hope House, the IRIS Network, Opportunity Alliance, Boys and Girls Club, Deering High School, to design professionals, we even hosted a session at Novare Res. We collected back about 500, then we asked ourselves, how can we influence future planning, design and policy with these maps? So, we decided to design a competition using the maps as the catalyst.
We got 30 proposals based on the maps, and we partnered with UNE Art Gallery to showcase the exhibit from November to January, then moved the exhibit to PelotonLabs. We are crafting a next level competition that will be announced later this spring.
PSA has also been involved in neighborhood design.
Yes, we partnered with PelotonLabs and Parkside Neighborhood Association on the Bramhall Square Design Competition. Other neighborhoods wanted us to help them think about what they could do in Woodfords Corner. So, we helped Friends of Woodfords Corner do an inventory and design charette.
Now we’re working with Parkside Neighborhood Association to facilitate their neighborhood vision using the Caring Community Grants coming out of Maine Medical Center. PNA’s plan will include an inventory of their assets, building typologies, streetscapes, sidewalks, and parks, asking people of all ages and backgrounds what they like about the neighborhood, what do they want to make sure stays the same, and what do they want to change.
It’s really asking, what is this place, and what do we want it to be? It’s a way to engage as many residents as possible in saying what they want their community to be.
How has Peloton been helpful to you?
It’s been fabulous. It’s really important to have a bricks and mortar space to convene, to bring in funders and sponsors, to show the exhibit, and to be in a space with multi-disciplinary movers and shakers. There’s a dynamism of small independent contractors each contributing to a greater wealth of intellectual and networking resources. It’s the perfect marriage of a place to call home and a place to convene, at an intimate scale. Our work with Peloton began with the Bramhall Design Competition and really kicked off PSA’s ongoing desire for design competitions, so we are exceptionally grateful for that.
You can see the submissions for The Complete City: Imagined here:
Stay tuned for the release of the next competition!
PelotonLabs is a coworking space in the West End of Portland, Maine with a mission to connect and encourage people to manifest their visions without fear.