Nohad Toulan, PSU's Urban Planner, Dies in Uruguay

Dr. Nohad Toulan—a leading figure in Portland's urban planning and Islamic worlds—died Monday with his wife, Dirce, after a car wreck in Uruguay.

Toulan was the founder and retired director of Portland State University's College of Urban and Public Affairs, a portion of which now bears his name. He taught city planning at PSU for 30 years, and helped draft Portland's celebrated Urban Growth Boundary.

He retired from PSU in 2002, but remained dean emeritus of the College of Urban and Public Affairs. He was 81.

PSU officials confirmed his death in a traffic accident in San Carlos, and said memorial arrangements are pending.

"Few represent the ideal of Portland State University more than Dean Toulan," PSU president Wim Wiewel said today. "He was a visionary whose work has shaped metro Portland and cities around the world."

The deaths of him and Dirce, leading figures in Portland's Islamic community, were announced Monday night by Wajdi Said, executive director of the Muslim Educational Trust.

"It is very hard to imagine the American Muslim and Arab communities and Portland without Dr. Nohad and Dirce Toulan," Said writes. "Both were and will continue to be the pride of the Muslim community in Oregon."

Born in Egypt, Toulan was Cairo's first planning director. He arrived in Portland from Columbia University in New York City.

His work stretched far outside Portland's Urban Growth Boundary, which restricts construction to prevent sprawl.

In 1984, he left Portland for two years to draft a comprehensive regional plan for the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is overseeing Portland City Council while Mayor Charlie Hales is in China, has declared a moment of silence to open Wednesday's council meeting. 

"Dr. Toulan and his wonderful wife Dirce will be sorely missed by many communities in Portland and worldwide," Fritz tells WW. "The City Council will honor their memory tomorrow morning at the start of the Council session at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall."