Posted by: ellenpayne2012 | October 7, 2012

Ideology in Real Estate Development

Having recently work in real estate development, I was struck by the example of the ideology expressed in the organization of an educational building. So I went back to a case study I created for the developer of the Brewery Blocks with a fresh eye. The Principles of Place outlined the developer’s ideology to create vibrant, inspiring and sustainable places. The attached photo of Couch and NW 10th, just a few short blocks from the Turnball Center, contains a few clues. The emphasis on bike racks and a streetcar stop gives easy access to alternative transportation. The wide sidewalks, curb extensions and prominently placed benches that face the buildings (rather than the street) along with hanging baskets, encourages pedestrians to pause and connect, like the old European squares do. The accessible storefronts — no above-ground parking garages here  — (they’re all buried) create an inviting space that activates the street. At the edge of the photo is a brick building and we see old-time streetlights — examples of preserving symbols that matter. The large smokestack and much of the building from the Old Weinhard Brewery was preserved and turned into office and retail space. It wouldn’t be the Brewery Blocks without it. Note the many storefronts and retail spaces: an ideology of 20-minute living; that places everything you might need: grocery, retail, restaurants, office buildings, within a fairly short distance. Compare this ideology to  say Washington Square and we see a very different embodiment of ideology.

What kind of ideology does the Turnball Center building support? 


  1. The layout of the Turnbull Center fosters a different style of learning than the typical lecture hall. Instead of the forward-facing stadium seating found in many lecture halls, the classrooms contain conference tables and comfortable, rolling and swiveling chairs that encourage conversation and collaboration among class members. In the larger lecture area, the speaker addresses a group from a podium and chairs fill the first section of the room with tables lining the back. Although this more closely resembles a lecture hall, the speaker and audience remain on the same floor level, which serves to create a flatter structure in the audience-speaker relationship. This opposes the hierarchical structure a lecture hall implies, where uninformed, novice students are expected to listen quietly to the well-informed, expert lecturer. The round tables at the back serve to reinforce the flat structure and casual, collaborative nature of professor-student relationships. Glass-lined walls and open doors with full-length windows imply the faculty of the Turnbull Center are dedicated to developing an open, inclusive learning environment where students can freely discover and explore new ideas.

    Like the Old Weinhard Brewery building, the White Stag building is an example of preserving symbols unique to Portland. Other than the bridges, the classic “Made in Oregon” sign is one of the most visible symbols of Portland. Part of Portland’s identity would be lost were that sign destroyed. Restoring and repurposing the building, instead of replacing it, communicates a respect for the history of our fair city and the people and organizations that literally put Portland on the map. What could be more fitting than studying strategic communication in a building with an iconic piece of strategic communication on the roof?

    What ideology does the city of Portland communicate through its architecture, infrastructure and location?

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