The former site of Portland’s historic post office was transformed from an urban greyfield into highly successful public space unique for its successful integration of a native plant and natural materials palette in a high use urban space. The design also created a flexible space to accommodate a variety of uses, from downtown concerts to the tremendous influx of seasonal tourists.
The design team and stakeholders embraced the concept to honor the City of Portland’s sister city relationship with Shinagawa, Japan. The team travelled to Japan to meet with community members and study local gardens. The park’s design, combined with installations of Japanese mailboxes (a gift from Shinagawa) help symbolize the link between the 2 cities. An informal seating area was designed using large granite boulders in the precise formation of seven of Casco Bay’s islands around Portland.
An initial budget setback was turned into a design opportunity through innovative use of reclaimed materials. The design team worked closely with City staff to identify and quantify salvaged materials from local demolition sites. The successful use of local granite cobbles, blocks, curbing and bricks into paving, benches, and planters, combined with the native plant palette of birch, serviceberry, witchhazel give the park its signature identity within the Portland urban fabric.