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P-D-X's mission is to help Portland envision its future in an ethical, sustainable, and context sensitive-manner. We champion best practices for human-scaled development from around the country and around the world. We seek to educate and empower the community to create an urban future that reflects our unique sense of place and identity - it’s not if we grow, it’s how we grow.



  • Change is the only constant - but it does not follow that change is something that happens to us; we, the citizens of Portland and its metropolitan region have a right and a duty to craft a vision to guide that change in a way that protects our shared sense of place while contributing to equitable outcomes for all. Change can be beneficial, or it can be traumatic. It is incumbent upon us to strive for the former rather than passively accept the latter.

  • Form matters - Not all density is created equal. While most great places are dense, walkable and transit-rich, not all dense places are great. We believe that a great community is more than a spreadsheet numbers game. There are qualitative formal, patterns that we can observe in beloved places. We strive to identify these patterns and practices and advocate for them here in Portland.

  • Development should respect the scale and character of neighborhoods. This means focusing on new higher density construction based on time tested historic precedents for human scaled residential buildings.

  • Incremental development - as the city’s population and density grow, we support locally driven development and investment that strengthens our community and supports local workers and businesses by keeping wealth in Oregon, rather than transferring it to out of state investors.

  • High resolution urbanism - we maintain that the size of the pixels - the buildings and places that constitute our built environment - has an enormous impact on the vibrancy, livability, diversity and resilience of neighborhoods. Therefore we advocate policies that limit the horizontal scale of new development and favor the small scale, high density historic building types that characterize our most successful and beloved urban places.

  • Missing Middle Housing - following our advocacy of human scale urbanism, we believe in diversifying the kinds of homes that can be constructed in our neighborhoods. Our research attempts to reverse-engineer the kinds of housing which already exist throughout our urban neighborhoods and promote policies to steer new development towards these time tested, context appropriate models. We believe we can often find the best models for our urban future in our urban past.

  • Place-based community involvement: we believe in citizen democracy. We trust communities to make the difficult choices it will take to accommodate new development, given an equitable framework and a fair process. Portlanders love their communities and much of our present quality of life is due to neighborhood activism. With the right tools, neighborhoods can find room for more homes and businesses in a way that is right for their own unique communities.

  • Historic integration - Portland’s historic buildings shape our sense of place and maintain our continuity with our past. They are a non-renewable resource; once lost, they are gone forever. Historic buildings make important contributions to the diversity, affordability and vibrancy of our communities. We reject the false dichotomy that forces us to choose between saving beloved architecture and promoting affordable housing. Better building codes could help us convert large older houses into comfortable homes for many families, for example. Preservation is about more than rescuing a few buildings from demolition though. Preservation extends beyond the buildings themselves; the historic plats of our blocks and neighborhoods establish the human scale DNA of our city. Maintaining the scale of those modules keeps new development compatible with fabric that constitutes our neighborhoods.