Call for Proposals

This Request for Proposals (RFP) is being issued by the Portland State University Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) in partnership with the School of Art + Design. The purpose of the RFP is to solicit works of art, broadly defined, for the vacant lot located at SW 4th Avenue and Lincoln Street, which is directly adjacent to the School of Art + Design.

ISS has allocated a total of $10,000 to assist with the production of art installations, creative activities, performances, or events for the site, and anticipates granting three to four awards. All works of art need to be completed and ready for display or performance during the opening of the MAX Orange Line on September 12, 2015.

Proposals must be submitted via this form by noon on Monday, June 15.


The lot is owned by TriMet, who has enlisted Portland State University to help enliven the site and bring vitality to the area. This is particularly important during the opening celebrations for the new MAX Orange Line, since the line passes by the site. Opening ceremonies for the Orange Line will occur on September 12, 2015 at Lincoln Station, which is across the street.

The lot is a 17,000 square foot, paved, fenced space that TriMet used for staging the construction of the new MAX Orange Line. Now that the line is built, the lot is surplus and may eventually become the site of a new art building for Portland State University.

With the lot located adjacent to the current PSU Art Building, the School of Art + Design has worked with PSU Facilities to secure access to, and use of, the site as a means of raising the visibility of the school and its programs through the creation of art at the site. On May 6, 2015, Portland State University received a revocable temporary use permit to use the lot for “art installations, events, and music.”

TriMet noted that the granting of the permit is intended to activate the site, and that PSU’s use of the site must be active—no storage or parking is allowed. In addition, the permit stipulates that Portland State will provide an “art installation” on the property in conjunction with the opening events for the Orange Line, which will take place all day on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

The Institute for Sustainable Solutions has recognized that the lot could create the opportunity for innovative demonstrations about the meaning and importance of sustainability by engaging a wide range of disciplines and interests on campus. Through involvement with the lot, ISS hopes to engage the School of Art + Design more directly in the sustainability mission of the University, and make Portland State’s commitment to and excellence in sustainability visible and evident to the Orange Line’s tens of thousands of opening day visitors and daily riders.


This project embodies a number of key themes of interest to ISS, the School of Art + Design, and to Portland State more generally:

  • The lot serves as an important intersection. From a transportation point of view, it’s the place where the new Orange Line joins the existing MAX Light Rail system. It’s also a place where the highway meets and intersects central city roads and the transit system. The PSU neighborhood is the largest and busiest transit hub in the entire TriMet system. Additionally, we see this site as a critical intersection between the arts and the wide range of disciplines at the University, and between the University and the wide range of activities in the city.
  • The lot provides a gateway to Portland State and downtown. It sits at the margins of the PSU campus, inviting university/community collaboration and engagement.
  • The lot embodies a distinct and deep sense of time. Old South Portland was an essential building block for the city we know today. Prior residents on and near the site have been leaders and builders on whose shoulders the city took root and grew. Its association with the Orange Line, and the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge, reflects both an acknowledgement of those that came before us, and the future potential for the city and the region.
  • The lot speaks directly to the triple bottom line of sustainability. Located within the South of Market EcoDistrict, the lot seeks to stand as a living demonstration of neighborhood-scale sustainability development principles.
  • The lot is an inclusive catalyst for engagement. The genius of a city is its inherent potential for people to engage with other people to create culture and new knowledge. We see the lot as a vehicle for serving that fundamental characteristic and purpose of a good city.

Opportunity Details

To realize the full immediate potential of the vacant lot at SW 4th Avenue and Lincoln Street, and to engage a broad cross-section of Portland State University students, faculty, and staff in making the area a thriving place, the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions and School of Art + Design are announcing a call for proposals to create art installations, creative activities, performances, or events for the site. Proposals should anticipate a budget of $2,000 to $4,000. All selected projects must be ready for presentation to the public by 8 a.m. on Saturday, September 12, 2015, and winners should be prepared to spend the day at the event. Proposals must be submitted via this form by noon on Monday, June 15. Winners will be chosen by Friday, June 19. Access to the lot can begin on Monday, July 6, and winners will receive award funds by that time.

In particular, we are looking for projects that:

  1. Address and embrace the key themes identified in the context above.
  2. Use the site as a canvas, being at once site-specific and scaled to the opportunities afforded by its size and scale.
  3. Create appealing reasons for being present on the site and engaging others there as well. Proposers may want to investigate examples of pop-up urbanism, like parklets, picnics, the “tea horse” of the City Repair Project, or others as elements for their projects.
  4. Incorporate a strong and evident commitment to materials conservation and reuse in the design of anything added to the site.

A Final Word

Through these project awards, we aim to create a space that is smart, fun, welcoming, and memorable for the University and the broader Portland community. Playfulness, irreverence, humility, and profound respect for the audience will be rewarded.

Key Dates

  • Proposals due: June 15, 2015 by noon
  • Proposers notified of selection: June 19, 2015
  • Site available for work: July 6, 2015
  • Award funds available: July 6, 2015
  • Artwork ready for display: September 10 (or if performance September 12)


All current Portland State University students, faculty, or staff are eligible to apply as individuals or as part of a team.

Selection Criteria

Submittals will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. How the artwork addresses the site context, described above.
  2. How the artwork makes use of reclaimed or recycled materials or incorporates themes of sustainability.
  3. The artist’s demonstrated ability to complete the artwork by the dates indicated above.