The total cost of the park and enhanced streetscapes was $9.45 million, funded by a combination of public and private resources: $4.5 million from Prosper Portland, $1.9 million from the City of Portland/Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R), and $2.9 million in private donations.
Officially the park is Simon and Helen Director Park, named for the maternal grandparents of philanthropist Jordan Director Schnitzer, CEO of Harsch Investment Properties, who donated $1.97 million to the project.
Features at the park include Teachers Fountain, artworks, a café and covered terrace, the Big Chess gameboard, and a distinctive glass canopy. Director Park was designed by Laurie Olin of the design firm OLIN, and the Portland-based architectural firm ZGF Architects.
The park had its origins in 1970s-era proposals to connect the North and South Park Blocks, which run through downtown Portland. In 1998 businessman Tom Moyer made a proposal for what became Director Park. Planning began in the mid-2000s, and construction began in January 2008.
The park is a distinctive feature in downtown Portland, providing a high quality open space for residents, employees, and shoppers that contributes to the revitalization of and private investment in the West End.
Planning for the design and construction of Director Park involved a citizen steering committee and numerous public involvement opportunities, including presentations, open houses, workshops, questionnaires, and a website. The feedback helped direct the design of a world-class addition to downtown Portland open space.