Unfortunately, the sunken plaza became a great place for vagrants and drug dealers. Sound familiar? So Boston held another competition in the early 80's to redesign Copley Square and the result is a very successful flat park with a big lawn, trees, benches, lighting and a signature fountain.
Portland can learn a lesson from Boston in this regard.
Proposals suggested at the workshop last night included: Andy Graham's wonderful idea of a winter garden, useable year round to be with plants; a suggestion of a major water feature and a major sculpture; a suggestion of a flat plane filled with large trees with their branches removed up to a fairly high height as seen in St. Petersburg, Russia; and to make the place nice enough that restaurants would put tables there or street vendors would set up.
All were in favor of making sure some kind of authority would care for the upkeep and cleanliness of the space as the Portland Downtown District does for Tommy's Park.
By eliminating the sunken plaza and making a flat-like surface at level of Congress St. sidewalk and putting in plenty of trees, we can only succeed.