It is laudable that Portland would sponsor a competition to design houses for the city's narrow infill lots. (http://www.planetizen.com/news/item.php?id=14525) It is too bad that the result is mostly not worth considering. Why? Here is one example:
This one gives a very clear depiction of what is lacking in nearly all of the designs. Context. Of 49 selections, almost every one is a sleek, squared, modernist glass structure. Needless to say, nearly all of the neighborhoods are filled with wood-sided, gable-roofed houses. Is this competition really going to inspire good design? I doubt it. Sure, as individual buildings, these homes look good. Put them in a neighborhood, though, and they will look grossly out of place. If Portland wants good examples of infill to provide developers, why not instead spend some time in neighborhoods like Chicago's Lincoln Park, taking photographs of good architecture fitting into its setting?