Author: Will Macht

William P. Macht is a professor of urban planning and development at the Center for Real Estate at Portland State University in Oregon and a development consultant. (Comments about projects profiled, as well as proposals for future profiles, should be directed to the author at

Articles by Will Macht

  • Urbanizing the Town Center of Columbia, Maryland
    Published on March 12, 2018 in Development
    James Rouse’s visionary development is 50 years old. The process of urbanizing its town center may create a model for other suburban developments.
  • From Brownfields to a New Transit-Oriented Downtown
    Published on December 11, 2017 in Development
    Public/private partnerships build a mixed-use, urban-scaled community in Union City, California.
  • Putting Urban Housing into a Transforming Industrial Area
    Published on July 10, 2017 in Development
    International developer Hines turns an old factory site into transit-oriented urban housing near the terminus of Boston’s Red Line.
  • Solar Array Yields Environmental—and Economic—Rewards
    Published on May 26, 2017 in Sustainability
    An office building in Palo Alto, California, benefits its city utility, university landowner, tenants, and the developer.
  • Many Uses, Linked by One Vibrant Alley
    Published on February 27, 2017 in Development
    A Denver developer activates an alley to tie together a hotel, offices, food, and "maker" retail on the site of a former dairy.
  • Northwestern Small Blocks: The History and Rationale Behind an Urban Model
    Published on January 17, 2017 in Planning & Design
    The scale of Portland’s and Vancouver’s small blocks sets patterns that solve multiple development problems and can be a contemporary model for developing urbane, walkable, and sustainable communities.
  • Splitting Makes It Whole
    Published on November 30, 2016 in Development
    An architect splits an apartment complex in a small metropolitan town in the Pacific Northwest to capture views and make units private, urbane, and whole.
  • From Suburban Office Park to a New Downtown in Florida
    Published on July 27, 2016 in Development
    A father/daughter development team is transforming an office park into a downtown for the city of Doral in the Miami suburbs.
  • Radiating Resourcefulness
    Published on July 11, 2016 in Development
    A small Portland, Oregon, developer marshals a variety of resources to redevelop a city block with three creative office buildings fronting a city park.
  • Combining—and Dividing—Uses at Portland’s Goat Blocks
    Published on May 26, 2016 in Development
    A developer uses suburban retail experience to craft a dense, mixed-use community in the heart of Portland’s Central Eastside.
  • Placemaking on the Pike
    Published on March 21, 2016 in Planning & Design
    A national developer is transforming a former retail strip center in the Washington, D.C., suburbs into a dense, urban, mixed-use neighborhood.
  • Retail Jewel Box Houses Fast Food in Rotterdam
    Published on January 25, 2016 in Development
    In Rotterdam, a fast-food tenant replaces an obstructive kiosk in a prominent location with a simple glass box that draws people—and sunlight—in.
  • Incubating an International Marketplace
    Published on November 23, 2015 in Market Trends
    A planner and an architect develop an international marketplace on a commercial strip in the middle-city area of Boise, Idaho.
  • Making Walkable Townhouses Affordable for Millennials
    Published on September 14, 2015 in Planning & Design
    A Miami architect/developer conceives flexible, two-unit urban townhouses to make them more affordable—especially in the walkable, close-in urban neighborhoods that millennials prefer.
  • Developing Resilient Waterfront Blocks
    Published on July 20, 2015 in Development
    Boston architects propose an elevated, connected network of buildings and services that would allow the land beneath to flood without destroying the community.
  • Developing Private Accessory Dwellings
    Published on June 26, 2015 in Development
    Large homebuilders—and small-scale specialists—are coming up with ways to increase the supply of affordable and versatile accessory dwellings.
  • Rethinking Private Accessory Dwellings
    Published on March 06, 2015 in Planning & Design
    Owners of detached single-family houses are finding ways to add accessory dwellings to their homes. Planners have only recently started to address the trend, crafting regulatory changes that can help PADs enrich the intergenerational fabric of communities.
  • Universal Structures as Long-Term Sustainable Assets
    Published on January 23, 2015 in Planning & Design
    A Boston convention authority develops universally adaptable structures as long-term assets that can transition from parking to retail, office, hotel, housing, and entertainment uses.
  • Flexible Parking Structures as Civic Catalysts
    Published on November 24, 2014 in Infrastructure
    A design challenge inspires a proposal for flexible parking structures that can house a range of uses—and spur mixed-use, transit-oriented development.
  • Investing in a Live/Work Environment
    Published on November 17, 2014 in Planning & Design
    A couple transforms a defunct factory/warehouse and abandoned gas station into live/work units for lease­­—and a private art studio/home for themselves.
  • Fee-Simple Small Lots Yield Urbane Density
    Published on August 13, 2014 in Development
    A Los Angeles developer and architect use a new small-lot ordinance to build single-family houses at a garden-apartment type of density.
  • Avoiding Retail Vacancies with Flexible Retail/Residential Design
    Published on June 16, 2014 in Planning & Design
    Two Dallas suburban cities experiment with flexible retail or residential space designs to help urbanize their city centers.
  • Courting Density
    Published on April 28, 2014 in Planning & Design
    Courtyard houses provide higher-density urban infill development, yet integrate privacy, transparency, security, accessibility, and economy.
  • Dividing Blocks and Adding Vitality to Salt Lake City
    Published on March 13, 2014 in Development
    The development arm of the Mormon Church redevelops the urban heart of Salt Lake City, Utah, with a new, large-scale, integrated mixed-use concept.
  • Clustering Micro-Restaurants
    Published on January 01, 2014 in Development
    A Portland, Oregon, architect/developer transforms a car dealership into an experimental pedestrian-oriented cluster of micro-restaurants.
  • Saved by the Grid
    Published on November 19, 2013 in Residential/Multifamily
    An isolated, crime-ridden, half-empty public housing enclave is being transformed into a mixed-income, higher-density neighborhood newly connected to San Francisco's urban grid.
  • Intergenerational Ingenuity: Mixing Age Groups in Affordable Housing
    Published on August 28, 2013 in Residential/Multifamily
    Age segregation is a silent and growing problem in the United States of the 21st century. In Portland, Oregon, a nonprofit organization has built an urban solution that addresses the problem of age segregation while brightening the prospects of families who adopt children out of the foster care system.
  • Scaling Up with the Honeycomb Prefab System
    Published on July 10, 2013 in Planning & Design
    Where others have failed, triangle-based modular wood structures may achieve manufacturing economies for commercial and residential uses.
  • A Public University/Private REIT Partnership in Portland
    Published on May 01, 2013 in Market Trends
    A fast-growing urban university partners with an equity REIT to add student housing—along with academic and retail space.
  • University Unites Uptown
    Published on February 20, 2013 in Mixed-Use
    A new public/private, mixed-use Uptown project unites celebrated but disparate institutions in Cleveland’s University Circle district.
  • City as Master Developer
    Published on December 10, 2012 in Development
    A newly incorporated suburb near Salt Lake City takes on the challenge of becoming master developer of its new urban heart.
  • Greening the Big Blue Box
    Published on October 26, 2012 in Sustainability
    A compact new Denver IKEA uses geothermal and solar energy, coupled with parking ramp conveyors, to create a more land- and energy-efficient alternative to sprawling big-box stores.
  • Multiblock Underground Shared Parking
    Published on August 23, 2012 in Planning & Design
    Contiguous underground, shared parking can be a critical stimulus for horizontal mixed-use density.
  • Infill Office, Outsize Impact
    Published on August 08, 2012 in Planning & Design
    A seven-story infill office building with a dramatic facade on a tiny downtown fringe site in Portland, Oregon, anchors the regeneration of an arcaded district.
  • Building Flexibility into Mixed-Use Projects
    Published on May 31, 2012 in Development
    Museum Place, a large-scale infill development on an 11-acre (4.5 ha) site assembled in the cultural district of Fort Worth, Texas, is designed to knit 11 new structures into a finer-grained urban fabric of streets to connect to nearby museums and surrounding uses so it can flexibly mix offices, retail space, hotel space, and housing.
  • Regeneration through an Urban Food Factory
    Published on March 29, 2012 in Sustainability
    A sustainably designed, adaptive-use, urban food factory in Portland, Oregon, helps a neighborhood suffering urban decay, foreclosures, and job losses.
  • Collaborative Life Sciences Complex
    Published on October 04, 2011 in Market Trends
    A $295 million shared education and research facility for four universities in downtown Portland, Oregon, is intended to address a long list of objectives in one facility. Read about the many opportunities for both physical and financial savings created by co-locating programs from the universities, and the method devised to allocate space annually among the facility’s constituent institutions.
  • Independent Housing Cooperatives
    Published on August 23, 2011 in Residential/Multifamily
    Portland, Oregon, developer Mark Desbrow formed Green Light Development to pioneer a 45-unit independent living cooperative, called the Sheldon Cooperative. Read about some of the advantages the independent cooperative housing model offers buyers, as well as developers, compared with the more traditional models and services offered by condominiums.
  • Integrating Modern with Historic
    Published on November 05, 2010 in Planning & Design
    Developing modern buildings adjacent to historic icons can present unique challenges—especially in an area of downtown San Francisco with an active historic preservation community. Learn how a developer solved the puzzle of a San Francisco site by integrating a historic building with its modern neighbors to create a single structure with three parts.
  • Ultracompact Minimodules
    Published on October 01, 2010 in Planning & Design
    Vancouver, British Columbia, architect Michael Katz has produced a modular system at only 220 square feet (20 sq m). In an effort to make the L41 sustainable, affordable, and innovative, Katz chose to construct the unit using cross-laminated timber (CLT), a new wood building product. The L41 home is designed as a studio house for one person or one couple. The L41 was manufactured by Ledcor, a large Vancouver-based contractor, in three modules that were shipped on a flatbed truck to the site and assembled in less than a day.
  • Modular Net-Zero-Energy Townhouses
    Published on August 01, 2010 in Sustainability
    U.S. architects are experimenting with designing net-zero-energy buildings—those that produce as much energy as they consume. Developers around the world are building modular housing to speed construction, reduce on-site labor expenses, and lower development costs. Now, an off-site systems building manufacturer has developed the first modular net-zero-energy townhouses as a demonstration project in Oakland, California.
  • Cargo Containers as Commercial Space
    Published on January 01, 2010 in Sustainability
    Reuse of cargo containers as building blocks in a small Seattle hybrid commercial building helps contain costs and speed construction.