Congress Square Redesign Public Forum Planned for November 6 at Westin Hotel


Colorful Outdoor Seating at Congress Square Park Continues to be Use in this Warmish Weather.

The public is invited to attend an in-person public forum on the Congress Square Redesign on Saturday, November 6, 2021 from 1:00 to 2:00 pm at the Westin Hotel, 157 High Street, in downtown Portland. The forum is hosted by the City of Portland.

The forum will include an introduction from city officials followed by presentations from WRT, the Congress Square Redesign consultant, as well as New York City artist Sarah Sze.  She was selected as the artist to create a new public art installation for the park following an RFP process several years ago.

The working title for the Sze installation is “Shattered Spheres.”  This nationally celebrated artist recently unveiled a new permanent commission at the Storm King Art Center, New York.

The Sze sculpture is estimated to cost $1,285,000.  The Portland Public Art Committee has committed $225,000. and the National Endowment for the Arts has committed a $30,000. grant for the installation.  The City has committed CIP funds to the installation, but it is unknown how much at this time.  The Friends of Congress Square Park is fundraising on its own.  According to someone familiar with the effort, less than half of the amount needed has been raised to date. The original fee for the Sze installation was $750,000.

“Sarah Sze is one of the preimenent artists of our time and it has been  incredible to partner with her on this transformative project in the heart of Portland’s bustling arts district.  Accessible public art is so important and the Sarah Sze installation will bring much joy and wonder to us all,” wrote Pandora LaCasse, a local artist best known for her holiday lights all over the city.  She was on the Portland Public Art Committee in 2012 and on the artist selection committee.  The Sze installation is scheduled to happen in 2024 according to a timeline at the Park.

The park has come a long way.  Back in 2012, the Portland City Council voted to sell this space to Rock Bridge for construction of an event center.  Neighbors of the park rose up and resisted this move by the City, supported by then Mayor Michael Brennan.  They made the case that the city had no right to sell public property.  They were successful in getting the issue on a ballot where the resistance won out.  Funding from a national source was successful in the programing to date.  The entire LaCasse family has been instrumental in the redevelopment of this space from a wasteland to this vibrant place for culture, the arts and the community.

For more background information, please visit posts dated April 21, 2014 and July 21, 2018 for more Park information.