Drive, bike, bus, or stroll along almost any of Portland’s major streets, and you’ll find a building under construction.

Or so it seems. Statistically, the city is in the midst of a significant building boom: according to one report, 5,200 new residential units came on the market in late 2012 and 2013, with another 5,000 scheduled to appear by the end of 2014. 

No, the go-go early 2000s haven’t quite returned: construction permits remain half of what they were back in the last boom time. Yet the sheer number of lots (often newly scraped of small houses and buildings) sprouting five- and six-story apartments is still breathtaking. 

Stop and inhale—there’s more to come. As revitalized market forces bring visions of Portland hatched long ago into reality, we’re also seeing taller buildings, more ambitious architecture (sometimes), and even whole neighborhoods reimagined. (Quick: where’s the “Jade District”?) 

“It’s turning out sort of as planned,” says retired Portland planner Michael Harrison, who helped write the city’s last blueprints for growth in the 1980s. Back then, motivated by the ’70s energy crisis and Oregon’s love for preserving farmland, Portland committed to dense development. Over the years, the city doubled down on the idea that density = urban goodness, making way for more apartments, condos, and houses—with less parking. 

Now change is in full swing.

In the stories below, we explore how the central city might morph by 2035; zoom in on five districts across the region poised for dramatic change; and, finally, turn a critical eye on the promise (and, in some cases, greediness) of the architecture rising around us. 

The next Portland begins here!

the next portland