The best of two continents – The Towne Center
Halvorson also originally sought to create an enormous “Towne Center at Mountain Park” where the Oswego Summit apartment complex now sits. He envisioned a unique commercial center based on old-time European-style villages. In his own words,
“It is a community entirely oriented to people. The Towne Center achieves an intimate experience similar to shopping villages in old-time France while providing the convenience and parking facilities of contemporary American shopping centers. An intriguing European feature of the Towne Center is The Stem, a central “walking street.” By design the Towne Center complements the quality residential standards of the mountain park community and provides a special place for shopping, working, and entertaining for the entire Portland Metropolitan Area.”
Before designing The Towne Center at Mountain Park, the development team visited the most interesting and successful retail centers of Europe and America. This team included representatives from the architectural firm and financial institution, the leasing agency and the developer. The purpose of these visits was to establish a common ground upon which to begin a uniquely human, living, and working community. The development team visited these cities among others to review both new and old shopping concepts: Amsterdam, Geneva, The Hague, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, French Alps, Paris, Vancouver, B.C. and Victoria, B.C.
Of particular interest were the European districts which had the advantages of hundreds of years of observation, use, and gradual improvements to fit the needs of the people who worked, shopped, and played in the vicinity. Results of this extensive study appear in The Towne Center designs which prove once again that an architectural adventure can be an outstanding success commercially as well as aesthetically.
The architecture originally envisioned for the Towne Center was at once ancestral and traditional, while maintaining the futuristic and forward-thinking spirit of the late 1960s. Kinetic sculptures, large glass fixtures combined with old-style European pointed ceiling installations created a visual look unlike anything else. Almost too enormous in scope, the Towne Center was not to be, as its construction proved to be too ambitious and forward-thinking for the time. But the entire concept serves as a testament and the historical documents a monument to the creativity of Halvorson’s original vision. Mountain Park began to grow in a different direction in the early 70s, and as it transitioned to where it’s at now, more and more people began to move there and understand what it had to offer.
Nearly 50 years later, Carl Halvorson’s vision has come to fruition. Mountain Park is as thriving and as beautiful as he originally envisioned, and then some – it’s grown to be even more than he imagined, and is modern and contemporary while still remaining extremely comforting in ambience, as one can see in these images from its early days in the 1970s.
Now home for 8,500 residents, many multi-generational, who’ve happily resided there for decades, the deep-rooted original community has blossomed into a place truly like no other in Oregon. Possessing the “small, tight-knit village feel” while being large enough in layout and population that things stay fresh, vibrant, and dynamic, and so close to thriving metropolises has made Mountain Park the premier planned community in the entire Pacific Northwest – a living experience unlike anywhere else – exactly as it was envisioned to be.