LSW and Shapiro Didway joined hands to design the Portland WYE concept for the MAX Reuse Design Challenge.


LSW & Shapiro Didway Team Up For MAX Reuse Design Challenge

September 22, 2020 by Clayton Truscott

The MAX Reuse Design Challenge was a captivating way to generate ideas for a good cause while paying homage to one of Portland’s iconic services. Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design invited teams to “explore visions for the repurposing of retiring MAX cars to benefit communities in the Metro region.

LSW and Shapiro Didway joined hands and took this as an opportunity to dream outside the box and pour their hearts into the design. The team’s concept, Portland WYE, transforms the retired MAX cars into public health centers that provide free holistic health and self-care services. Each WYE focuses its service on care for the mind, body, and spirit, offering strategies to reflect, de-stress, and retreat while making space for growth and reflection. 

MAX - Site Plan-01

Portland WYE Site Map

“We aimed to make the largest impact possible while addressing the multitude of crises our communities are facing,” said Nicole Becker, Project Manager for this design challenge. No small feat, given the background conditions during the contest’s submission period.  

One important advantage of being able to use the retired cars is the location. “Our approach was to repurpose the aging icons into an adaptable framework located adjacent to public transit infrastructure, providing more equitable access to mental, physical, and emotional health resources for all socioeconomic groups and demographics in need of services,” said Nate Otani from Shapiro Didway.  

With a global pandemic and tensions around racial inequality, on top of ongoing economic disparities, the need for physical, mental, and emotional care is essential for all and should be freely available to everyone, particularly those in need. That’s partly what makes contests like the MAX Reuse Challenge so important in times like these; it’s goal is to advance conversations about meeting community needs through the preservation of an iconic resource, and to inspire future design work within the city. 

For the team at LSW/Shapiro Didway, participating in an event like this was an important exercise in creativity, strategic design, and channeling our ideas toward causes we believe are important. 

Download the full LSW/Shapiro Didway WYE submission here.

Project Team


  • Nicole Becker
  • Christian Korta

Shapiro Didway

  • Nate Otani 
  • Aaron West 
  • May Liu 
  • Maggie Denham

Project Advisory Board 

  • Esther Liu 
  • Stefani Randall 
  • Kurt Zenner
  • Spencer Anderson 
  • Brent Young