July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 18 marked the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Cascades Tissue converting plant in Scappoose, OR. The plant will convert 4,600-pound rolls of paper into various commercial and household paper products. Among the prominent Oregon dignitaries in attendance were Governor Kate Brown and Senate Representative Betsy Johnson. Prior to the ribbon-cutting, Governor Brown spoke about the importance of providing jobs in rural areas. The plant provided 200 jobs during construction and will provide 80 full-time jobs during operation. By providing local jobs, the facility will help reduce commuting, and improve participation and quality of life in the local community.

Otak provided planning, engineering and architectural services for the project. The offices and warehouse are an impressive 286,300 sq. ft. of space in the master-planned industrial area in Scappoose. The building design strives to fit within the local context and features local heavy timber and cross laminated timber at the entry and patio spaces.

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   July 7, 2017

Last week, Rachel Settecase, Otak’s interior designer, organized a tour of the Schoolhouse Electric Co. Warehouse in NW Portland. The tour highlighted the many functions of this Portland-based manufacturing company and design brand. The group was especially impressed with the facility, housed in a massive 115-year old factory building on Nicolai Street. “We found that [the Warehouse] is an exceptional model of local manufacturing,”. The first floor contains a Ristretto coffee shop and flagship store, and integrates the product design/ prototyping/ marketing studio under the same roof.

Schoolhouse Electric Co. was founded in 2003, when Brian Faherty restored a long-lost collection of cast-iron glass shade molds he found in an abandoned warehouse. His business, preserving and restoring manufacturing equipment, bloomed into a lifestyle brand encompassing a wide range of function and design. In addition to its headquarters, Schoolhouse Electric has a store in New York City.

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   July 6, 2017

Earlier this week, our Vancouver office moved to Suite 300! Stop by and say hello next time you're in the area.

Of course things would not run smoothly without IT. Thanks Steve, Victor, Joe, and Drew!

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   July 5, 2017

On Saturday, June 24th, a group of Otakians volunteered with Willamette West Habitat for Humanity to help construct homes at Allen Estates in Beaverton, Oregon. The group assisted by hanging sheet rock and exterior siding. Temperatures were at a record high, but luckily most tasks were accomplished indoors or in the shade.

This was the third time that Otak has volunteered at Allen Estates, and the project has developed significantly since Otak’s first build with them. Allen Estates is starting to look more and more like a community, with some residents already inhabiting the property, and substantially less like a job site.

Allen Estates is comprised of 2-3 story townhomes which are in various stages of completion. It will be home to 24 families once completed.

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   June 30, 2017

On Wednesday, June 21st, engineers from Oregon and Washington enjoyed an afternoon away from the office hitting the links and enjoying the beautiful weather. Sunny skies, 70-degree temperatures and a light breeze made for perfect conditions for both golfing and eating ice cream, which Otak handed out to over 90 golfers. Otak’s station, led by Vice President & Director of Business Development Brian Burby and Marketing Coordinator David Kildal, also had a wine giveaway and an Otak-branded BAGGO cornhole game. Great times and only minimal sunburns were had by all!

Otak is proud to have been a major sponsor of the ACEC Networking Day Golf Tournament and we’re already looking forward to next year.

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   June 27, 2017

Teresa Huntsinger, Alex Morton, Melanie Klym, and Ashley Cantlon volunteering at a Depave event.

On Saturday, June 24th, while many Portlanders were finding ways to beat the 100-degree heat, a few Otakians laced up their work boots and took to the pavement. As part of a Depave community project, several of Otak’s WNR team members joined with volunteers to remove approximately 2,800 square feet of asphalt from the parking lot of Faithful Savior Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland. The “depaving” was an initial step in the construction of a rain garden, which will help to capture and treat stormwater originating from the church’s parking lot.

Depave is a Portland-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the transformation of over-paved places to overcome the social and environmental acts of pavement. They host volunteer “work parties” as well as provide education and training about the benefits of pavement removal. Since 2008, Depave has seen the removal of over 151,000 square feet of asphalt and the creation of over 50 community greenspaces in Portland. With the help of motivated individuals, Depave has already begun expanding to other cities across the US.

To learn more about Depave or to RSVP for future Depave events, visit 

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   June 22, 2017

Otak’s trail planners enjoyed a beautiful summer afternoon talking about current regional trail initiatives at Metro’s 7th Annual Barbara Walker Trails Fair event held at the Convention Center Plaza. 

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   June 19, 2017

On May 19, 2017, the ForWARD committee of the American Institute of Architects Portland chapter hosted Future Vision, a symposium dedicated to discussing equity, specifically, “The Value Proposition of Equity.” Otak was one of the sponsors of the event.

Among the attendees of the symposium was a diverse group of Otakians, consisting of employees from three Otak offices and five different disciplines (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Water & Natural Resources, and Human Resources).

According to attendee and Otak Portland architect Amy Scheckla-Cox, “We all learned from some great speakers taking back statistics regarding pay equity, challenges due to work/life flexibility, value of licensure, becoming a parent and more.” Other topics discussed included the differences between Equality and Equity, and recommendations for firms who wanted to move forward toward a more equitable environment. Such recommendations included considering inclusive bias training, pay transparency, and re-entry programs for employees who have been out of their field of work for an extended period of time.

Otak's attendees are planning to hold a lunchtime presentation to share their experiences and key takeaways with the offices.

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   May 31, 2017

On Friday, May 26, the architecture group took advantage of the beautiful weather and went on a site visit to two project sites in Southeast Portland that are currently under construction.

The team first toured a 63-unit apartment building at SE 44th and Belmont. According to Christina Kwiecienski, "There are going to be some great amenity spaces for 44th and Belmont. I’m particularly excited about the entry courtyard and rooftop community room with a view of downtown."

The team also toured a 121-unit apartment building at SE 50th and Clinton.

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   May 26, 2017

Otak’s WNR team recently conducted a tour of four constructed projects to observe results and share project experience. On Saturday May 20th, 18 WNR team members caravanned to SE Foster Road to kick off the tour with a walk through the East Lents Floodplain Restoration Project and a presentation by Kevin Timmins, PE. The City of Portland hired Otak to design a floodplain mitigation system to lessen the frequent flooding previously experienced along SE Foster Road. The project included the creation of floodplain storage area, restoration of Johnson Creek, and some stormwater management facilities at the 63.5 acre site. This project started in 2008 and was completed in 2012. (East Lents subconsulatants: Ash Creek, Nevue Ngan, NW Engineers, Reyes Engineering, and PHS)

After an alfresco breakfast in the parking lot at East Lents and the distribution of the official tour soundtrack (it’s not a WNR tour without “The Salmon Dance” by The Chemical Brothers), the group travelled to Lake Oswego to view the Rockinghorse Lane Drainage Improvements project located in Tryon Creek State Park. Access to this project involved a nice hike approximately 0.8 miles into the park, as the shorter, alternative access trail was closed due to a recent landslide. Ashley Cantlon, PE gave an overview of the project, which repaired a severely eroded drainage off the end of Rockinghorse Lane in conjunction with mitigating an active landslide. The drainage improvements project, constructed on the less than 1 acre site, was identified as a priority project by the City of Lake Oswego. This project started design in 2013 and was completed in 2015. (Rockinghorse subconsultants: Otak’s subconsultants included Pacific Habitat Services, Shannon and Wilson, AINW, and Todd Prager and Associates)

The caravan’s next stop was located in the City of Tualatin off of SW Blake Street. The Chieftain/Dakota Greenway project was contracted by the City of Tualatin to complete stream restoration work along Saum Creek in conjunction with water quality improvements to neighborhood stormwater runoff. Tour highlights included a project overview by Kevin Timmins, viewing of the constructed instream rock check dams and pools, and passing around a package of Firework Oreos (they put Pop Rock-like sprinkles in the filling!). This project started design in 2010 and was completed in 2014. (Saum Creek Subconsultants: Pacific Habitat Services)

After a hearty lunch and a round of microbrews at Industry in Tualatin, the group made their way to the final stop in the North Bethany area of northeast Washington County. Otak’s WNR team worked with Clean Water Services to create the North Bethany Stormwater Master Plan, and were excited to view the results. Josh Owens, PE kicked off this final leg of the tour with an overview of the Bethany Creek restoration work Otak completed, which daylighted a segment of the creek previously conveyed sub-surface in drain tiles. 

Tammi Connolly, PE then led the team through the adjacent single-family and multi-family developments, observing the regional water quality treatment and detention pond at North Bethany Creek, as well as many Low Impact Development Approach (LIDA) swales and planters throughout the area. (North Bethany subconsultants and contractor: Anchor QEA, Hardman Geotechnical Services, Kittleson, NEI)

Thank you to Josh Owens, our fearless tour organizer who put together a great itinerary and accompanying mixed CD for our caravanning enjoyment. It has already been decided that next year’s WNR tour soundtrack will include “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors, as well as a stop in Tigard to see the River Terrace community amenity standard in action!

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