The Aerial Tram that connects the South Waterfront to OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) is a recent addition to Portland’s infrastructure. Despite its striking design, the tram is not without major controversy (cost overruns, privacy issues, funding, corporate welfare, etc). I’ll avoid the politics of the tram’s creation and focus on its beauty.
Designed by AGPS, a firm based in Zürich and Los Angeles, the tram is probably the most striking piece of architecture built in Portland since the construction of the Oregon Convention Center’s glass towers in 1990. Each 12-ton car travels 3,300 horizontal feet and to an elevation of 500 feet. The drive system is located at the lower station, with the counterweight cleverly hidden (in plain sight) at the upper station. I can tell that great attention was paid to aesthetics and proportion- This is a beautiful system!
Here are my photos and sketches: