“Today, cities are being built for singles and empty nesters, while family needs are largely ignored, especially the needs of working families. Our urban family development in Portland is an opportunity to show how American cities can be truly livable by attracting and retaining children and families.”
Community engagement was the theme for Ben Gates during his fellowship, which focused on the development of an urban, mixed-use building that integrates more than 100 housing units, a community center and child-care facility, all serving diverse, mixed-income families.
One example of Ben’s dedication was his facilitation of a neighborhood “family forum." Designed to further the understanding of what families in the central city need, the forum engaged parents and children though the use of a giant neighborhood floor map on which participants imagined and drew neighborhood possibilities. The forum helped rally support for the missing neighborhood amenities of affordable family housing, child care, a school and a community center. Ben took this input and championed the implementation of public policy that prioritizes the development of these vital missing components.
Ben also encouraged his host to adopt the highest sustainability benchmark to date in their Pearl Family Development's "the Living Building Challenge." To achieve the water component of the challenge, Ben spearheaded “Achieving Water Independence in Buildings,” a project that attracted the participation of 60 experts. The project team collaborated with officials to reform water regulation in Oregon. Today, due largely to the team's hard work, buildings in Oregon can achieve 70-80% water savings though rain- and gray-water harvesting. Ben distributed this work as open source to allow others to benefit from the team’s "Water Independence Roadmap.”
Ben’s most recent accomplishments include designing and managing the significant rehabilitation of Laura's Place, whose transitional apartments and supportive services help single parents and children find affordable, permanent housing.
Pearl Family Development
150-200 affordable rental housing units
Community center (30,000 sq ft)
Child-care facility (10,000 sq ft)
2 common residential amenity rooms
Retail (5,000 sq ft)
Residential Unit Profile:
A new project in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District is positioned to transform a highly livable downtown neighborhood into one that is also family friendly. Through the construction of a mixed-use, high-rise development, the project will provide a home for diverse families, a public community center, and a child-care facility.
The project’s comprehensive vision was the result of targeted community engagement. Working closely with neighborhood stakeholders, Ben and Central City Concern identified the most needed family amenities in the neighborhood—affordable housing, child care and a community center. These amenities have been integrated into the building’s conceptual design over the past year through continued collaborative work with the neighborhood, city, and project stakeholders, including families and children.
Although earlier, city-adopted neighborhood development plans placed a high priority on the construction of these amenities, they remained un-built. With few remaining development opportunities in this rapidly growing district, this timely, pioneering project will solve an enormous need, positioning the Pearl District neighborhood as one of the nation’s preeminent family-friendly urban centers.