DWP 2019: Democratizing VR for More Livable Cities

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Open Signal, Portland Community Media Center

2766 Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard

Portland, OR 97212

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Event description


Attendees will be invited to freely explore two VR experiences throughout the evening, wrapping with a summary panel discussion wherein design professionals, event partners, and community members address the opportunities and challenges they see in attempting to democratize access to this emerging technology as part of the placemaking process.

Experience 1: Reveal History

Partner: Vanport Mosaic + Sharita Towne + Matt Henderson

Incorporating oral histories into a VR experience. Attendees will be able to experience the history of Vanport through a combination of recorded narrations, historical imagery, and Google Earth VR, gaining a new perspective and understanding of how communities have been affected by the planning decisions that have resulted in today's Portland, in both physical and virtual space.

Experience 2: Demo the Future

Partner: Bora Architects + Matt Henderson (Portland Immersive Media Group)

Attendees will be invited to explore a VR model of Bora’s conceptual design for Portland's Central Eastside Industrial District to demonstrate the kinds of assets communities could generate to promote alternative visions for urban design. Using live VR cameras in Open Signal’s studio, attendees in the VR space will be recorded and broadcast to those outside the model, showcasing the powerful community resources accessible to community members and designers.

Panel Discussion, Q+A

Panelists: Laura Lo Forti, Vanport Mosaic; Ridhi d’Cruz, The City Repair Project; Todd Ferry, PSU Center for Public Interest Design; Charles Kelly, ZGF Architects; Jeanie Lai, Bora Architects.

Visual Artist: Alex Chiu

During the panel, the artists and experts will reflect on what worked well and what felt difficult in creating the exhibits. They will also discuss how Open Signal can be a resource for communities to make use of this emerging media/communication technology. With Alex Chiu using VR painting software (Tilt Brush) to illustrate placemaking concepts during the discussion, will examine how this technology could be used as a tool in community visioning exercises. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and share in a dialogue about what they see as the biggest possibilities and challenges posed by VR for these kinds of community-centered applications.

Event Times

Exhibits 1+2, Mix + Mingle

5:00 - 5:45 PM

Panel Discussion

5:45 - 6:30 PM


6:30 - 6:45 PM

Explore Exhibits, Mix + Mingle

6:45 - 8:00 PM

Throughout the event, we will have complimentary beverages and refreshments available. When you’re not exploring the exhibits or engaging with the panelists, feel free to grab a drink or a snack and get to know your fellow attendees.

Open Signal Members

We want this event to be as accessible as our memberships. If you are a Member of Open Signal’s community, we will be making free tickets available, with a sliding scale for donations if you would like to contribute (always appreciated!). A discount code will be sent out in our Members Newsletter in March. A limited number of free tickets will be available, watch for details in the Newsletter!


Laura Lo Forti, Vanport Mosaic, co-founder and co-director

Ridhi d’Cruz, Co-Executive Director + Co-Director for Placemaking, Development, Leadership Development Departments, Diversity and Equity Program Specialist

Todd Ferry, Associate Director and senior research associate at PSU’s Center for Public interest Design

Charles Kelly, Principal at ZGF Architects

Jeanie Lai, Principal at Bora Architects

Sharita Towne, Artist, Open Signal New Media Fellow

Alex Chiu, Artist

Matthew Henderson, Immersive Media Artist + Educator, Portland Immersive Media Group + Open Signal

Cari Villescas, VR Expert + Designer at Bora Architects

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Open Signal, Portland Community Media Center

2766 Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard

Portland, OR 97212

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