A block transformed: Montgomery Street Pop-Up Plaza this May
Author: Emily Quinton, Campus Sustainability Office
Posted: April 1, 2019

This May, an important block on the Portland State campus will be temporarily closed to vehicular traffic, converting the space into a community plaza featuring art and design installations, community events, and local food vendors. Called the Montgomery Street Pop-Up Plaza, this pilot event aims to create a new outdoor public space for all to enjoy on the block of Montgomery Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway. Many PSU community members and campus visitors walk this block every day; the Pop-Up Plaza creates an opportunity to make this underutilized street at the heart of campus into a more welcoming and inclusive place.

 During the Montgomery Street Pop-Up Plaza, the block will be transformed through bollards to redirect traffic, a street painting, and installations of modular seating and lighting. Events, music performances, and interactive exhibits will take place throughout the month of May. Activities planned so far include a student art fair, opera and laptop recitals, events focused on creative recycling, a pop-up library, and more. Departments and student groups across campus are engaged in exploring the street’s potential as an active public space.

As a pilot, the month-long event will serve as a learning opportunity to explore the street’s potential as an active pedestrian-friendly public space, as envisioned in the 2009 Montgomery Green Street Plan. Portions of the Montgomery Green Street can be experienced elsewhere along SW Montgomery, but for the block in question, the overarching plan and vision was never fully implemented despite being conceived as a centerpiece of the project.

“I hope that the wonderful spirit of cooperation among the many administrative and academic units and student groups involved in planning the pilot Pop-Up Plaza continues to evolve, celebrating the creativity, ingenuity, and humanity of the PSU community” explained Ellen Shoshkes, Urban Studies and Planning (USP) faculty, who is helping to plan programming for the pilot. Many aspects of the Montgomery Street Pop-Up were proposed by students in USP 325U: Community and the Built Environment, taught by Ellen during the spring and fall 2018 quarters. This spring her students are collaborating with the Helen Gordon Child Development Center to host four workshops for the Pop-Up Plaza focused on sustainability and reuse.

Ellen is working closely with the event planning team, led by Julia Michel of the Campus Planning Office (CPO) and Clint Culpepper of Transportation & Parking Services (TAPS). Inspired by the 2009 Montgomery Green Street Plan and their respective departments’ work to improve pedestrian corridors and public spaces on campus, Julia and Clint are excited to observe how the pilot strengthens the campus core.

Julia expanded on the motivation for this event, “with the adjacent urban plaza and park blocks, turning this particular block of SW Montgomery into a public space for students will really help establish PSU’s heart of campus, better defining the school’s identity in downtown Portland”.

To host an event or volunteer during the Montgomery Street Pop-Up Plaza or to simply learn more visit the TAPS website or email Ellen Shoshkes ( Everyone is encouraged to visit the block during the Pop-Up, participate and attend activities, and offer feedback about the pilot.