Congress Square Redesign

Aerial image showing Congress Square after Phase 2 of the project.

The Congress Square Redesign project is a large-scale renovation of a major public open space in the heart of the Portland Arts District.  There are two parts to this project – the redesign of the public open space known as Congress Square, and the creation of a public artwork to be integrated and located in the new Square design.  This project has a high level of community interest and participation - neighborhood organizations, residents, nonprofits, arts organizations, and the business community have worked with the City of Portland for more than five years to develop a vision for the Congress Square Redesign.  The project is changing the face of Portland by turning an underused, car-dominated intersection into a vibrant public urban amenity.  One of a series of urban squares along Congress Street, the main street of the downtown, Congress Square will become a focal point for cultural activities and community programs, contribute to the economic vitality of the city, and improve the quality of life for Portland residents, workers, and visitors. 

Vision Statement: Congress Square is a high quality, distinctive urban space that epitomizes the Arts District while remaining accessible and inviting to all. Year-round, the Square provides a welcome break in the dense, historic district street wall where one encounters a range of activities including events and installations that celebrate local arts and culture, and fosters spontaneity, informal gathering, and fun.  As a gateway intersection, the redesigned Congress Square places priority on the pedestrian experience and safety while accommodating all transportation modes in an efficient manner.  

The redesign project completed the Design Development Design phase for the project in 2018 and for the public artwork in 2020.  The project partners - the City of Portland, Friends of Congress Square Park, and Portland Public Art Committee -  are working with landscape design firm WRT, Sebago Technics, and artist Sarah Sze on the designs for the intersection, park, and public art commission.  Phase I of the project includes reconfiguration of the intersection and sidewalks - this phase is currently in construction documents.  The City Council recently approved the FY22 budget to include funding for the Phase I construction and construction documents for Phase II.  Next steps in 2021 will include a public meeting to present the final concepts, final approvals, Phase I construction, Phase II and artwork construction documents, and continued private fundraising.  

See project updates and materials below.


The Historic Preservation Board approved with conditions the Certificate of Appropriateness for the Congress Square Redesign and public art commission.  Presentation materials from the public meeting can be viewed here.  


The final design development materials for Congress Square Redesign can be viewed below.  Stay tuned to this webpage or subscribe to the interested parties list to get updates on the project - Design Development for the artwork continues 2018/2019.  There will be some public meetings for approvals with the Historic Preservation Board, City Council, and Planning Board in the winter of 2018/2019.  To be added to the "interested parties" email list send an email to Project Manager Caitlin Cameron at


Latest Materials