Portland/ Community & Society
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Published on June 18, 2024
Portland Welcomes Sarah Vaz and Thomas Eldridge to Design CommissionSource: Portland.gov

To shape Portland into a city for its people and in tune with nature, the City Council has unanimously confirmed two seasoned professionals to the Design Commission. On May 29, the Council welcomed Sarah Vaz and Thomas Eldridge to the fold, introducing fresh perspectives to Portland’s urban landscape. Each will serve a term of four years, with Vaz starting on June 1 and Eldridge beginning on November 1, as shared by the City of Portland's official page.

Sarah Vaz, an Oregon licensed architect and senior associate at Holst Architects, is known for her robust engagement in several Portland projects over the last nine years. Vaz also brings to the table her experience as a paddleboarder and bike commuter, providing her with personal insights into the city's urban fabric and natural elements. "I am an architect with a passion for sustainable design and recent experience working with trauma-informed principles in the design of rehabilitation facilities," Vaz stated in an interview with the City of Portland's website.

Joining her is Thomas Eldridge, who migrates his skills in both market rate and affordable housing development from across the pond. Previously engaging in property development in London, Eldridge now acts as a development manager in Portland. Working closely with the Portland Housing Bureau’s North/Northeast Preference Policy, he has a history of partnership with community-based organizations to foster the development of affordable housing. "I want to help eliminate inequitable design which would otherwise negatively impact individuals and the broader community," Eldridge explained in a statement obtained by the City of Portland's official page.

The Design Commission oversees land use applications within the city’s design districts and is central to the ethos of designing a city that is human-centric and syntonic with the environment. Their role is pivotal in the city’s ongoing development, ensuring that the evolution of Portland's built environment aligns with design excellence. According to their mandate, sustaining harmony with nature while promoting urban vitality remains a core function, as further revealed on their website.

With the entry of Sarah Vaz and Thomas Eldridge into the Commission, Portland takes a deliberate step toward enriching the urban design narrative, strengthening the interplay between architecture and community.