Honoring our founder Bing Sheldon

by | May 5, 2016 0 News + Announcements

By now, all of the city’s major publications have covered our founder’s passing with great deference. Portland City Hall even lowered their flag to the news of George “Bing” Sheldon’s passing on April 30. Mayor Charlie Hales called Bing “a man who foresaw, protected, and shaped the city we love.”

His memorial is set for May 22nd (details below).

Even after retiring in 2012, Bing maintained a desk at SERA and returned to our Old Town office almost daily. Sitting in meetings and passing by informal work conversations, he continued to provoke thought among staff. His ideas remained progressive, and his distaste for inequity and the slow pace of progress pushed him to be an active board member of groups such as Portland Forward, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and Children First for Oregon until the day he passed.

Many new hires at SERA were first introduced to Bing as “the S in SERA” – his bio and achievements so long that it was sometimes hard to find a succinct intro.


Bing was one of Portland’s first sustainable architects – well ahead of the ubiquity of the title today. At a time when people were demolishing older buildings in the 1970s and 80s, Bing worked to preserve the existing fabric of the city. On the Portland City Planning Commission in the 1970s, Bing championed downtown density, access to nature, walkability, human-scale development and alternative transportation. He led the creation of the Portland Downtown Plan, which spawned a vibrant city center, robust public transit, an active pedestrian riverscape and a strong hub of commerce.

And as an architect, he revitalized some of Portland’s most iconic historic structures, including Montgomery Park, the Galleria and Portland City Hall. He advocated for affordable housing and dedicated his time to a number of pro-bono projects and community service organizations.

His work and dedication inspires our staff to think more broadly about our impact on the health and livability of our city. We were honored by his presence, and are forever thankful for his legacy.

Bing’s memorial will be held at Montgomery Park, May 22nd from 5 to 7 p.m.

According to his wife Carolyn, “Montgomery Park is a project he designed for Bill Naito. Bing loved Bill and they were an awesome team.”

His family has asked that any donations be made in his name to the charities Children First for Oregon and the OLCV.

View Bing’s obituary (295 kB PDF)

Additional tributes:

Bing Sheldon, who designed more than buildings: Editorial | The Oregonian

Remembering Architect Bing Sheldon |OPB News

Remembering George “Bing” Sheldon | Central City Concern


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