Blog
   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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   May 12, 2017

On April 24, EcoDistricts CEO Rob Bennett spoke to nearly four dozen Otakians in our Portland office, outlining innovative techniques that Otak’s planners and architects can use in reimagining how to build cities that will best serve humans around the world in the 21st Century.

In his presentation, Rob explained EcoDistricts Protocol, a framework for achieving people-centered, economically vibrant, planet-loving neighborhood sustainability. Application of EcoDistricts Protocol tools, guidance, and rigorous performance requirements results in projects achieving EcoDistricts Certified standing, a mark of global sustainability excellence. Otak joined EcoDistricts earlier this year to support their global mission of developing sustainable cities and neighborhoods.

Bennett remarked on how well Otak’s values and goals aligned with EcoDistricts Protocol. “There is clear alignment between our organizations,” Bennett said. “The Otak gang understands that the future of city building requires a new model of collaboration, performative design and measuring impact. I look forward to the ways that EcoDistricts can support Otak’s pursuit of our common vision and goals to build vibrant, thriving places where we all want to work and live.”

EcoDistricts currently offers services supporting 16 projects across North America, with several in locations where Otak has offices (e.g., Portland’s Lloyd District, Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood). EcoDistricts provides expertise in the areas of green building, green infrastructure, urban planning, and community development, and offers urban development professionals classes in sustainability best practices, leading to their Accredited Professional (AP) credential.

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   May 3, 2017

On April 22nd, the Oregon State University Concrete Canoe team competed with other Pacific Northwest at the 2017 ACEC Pacific Northwest Student Conference.The team placed Second Place overall!

1st in technical paper
1st in oral presentation
3rd in paddling races
5th in final product

Otak is a proud sponsor of the Concrete Canoe team. Congrats and Go Beavs!
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   April 27, 2017

On April 20, Otakians from the Portland office celebrated Tax Day by hitting the links in a putt-putt golf tournament. The staff divided into nine teams and designed creatively tax-themed holes, which incorporated nonperishable food items to be donated after the event. Themed holes included a dollar sign, brackets, and The Beatles. For the first time ever, the tournament utilized three floors, including architecture’s new digs! Awards were given for lowest score (Nick Cook), highest score (Jose Zegarra) and most average score (Katie Kersten and Sarretta Tillmaand, who each won vanilla pudding, for what could be more average than vanilla pudding?). Overall, it was a fun event and a great way to “celebrate” Tax Day!

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   April 19, 2017

Students on a site visit.

In March 2017, Jesse Reynolds, an environmental planner and GIS analyst in Otak’s Redmond office, teamed up with Professor Jairo Angel of Cali, Colombia, to help conduct an urban design workshop for an impoverished community on the outskirts of the City (Alto Jordan, Comuna 18, Cali). This effort was funded by a grant from the US State Department—a reverse exchange through the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, which had also brought Jairo to Otak’s Portland office in November 2016.

During the week-long workshop, an engineering and architecture team made up of students from Colombia worked with professors to help design open space areas, stormwater infrastructure, and public gathering spaces to enrich the community and surrounding areas. Jesse helped the team throughout the design process and also gave presentations on Low Impact Development and the use of GIS as a tool to aid in design.

Jesse presenting at the conference.

(left) Jairo and Jesse in the community's library. (right) Professor Orlando Cundumi and Jesse.

The community.

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   April 14, 2017

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   April 13, 2017

Last week four Otak staff attended the 2017 Women in Leadership Symposium put on by Women Leading Water. The Keynote speaker was Jennifer Williamson, Oregon House Majority Leader. She said that overall, Oregon is doing well with female and minority political representation, but we could do better. Her message was to find issues you’re passionate about and get involved! Other sessions covered setting your path and how to overcome obstacles and rework your plan as needed, being decisive and taking charge of your life, standing up for yourself in the workplace, how to get involved in an organization you’re interested in, and practicing mindfulness.

It was a great opportunity for women from the Portland/Vancouver area to meet and learn from each other’s experiences.

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   April 5, 2017

As part of the ACEC and ODOT Region 2 Brown Bag Lunch Series, Scott Banker, Melanie Klym, and Chad Maxwell gave a presentation on the US20: Pioneer Mountain-Eddyville (PME) Environmental Mitigation Measures. Environmental mitigation measures for stream and wetland impacts associated with the construction of the US20 PME project were constructed during 2016 and 2017, with additional habitat enhancement measures to be completed by the end of 2017. 

The contractor moved approximately 74,000 cubic yards of existing material, isolated creeks to perform channel grading and installed large wood structures. Mitigation efforts also included roughly 25 acres of planting and seeding. The presentation reviewed the unique aspects of the design and primarily focused on the challenges of constructing a large-scale mitigation project using traditional ODOT plans and specifications.

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   March 27, 2017

On March 4th, Otakians from the Redmond office volunteered to give back to their community by helping clean up Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland, WA.

Working with the City’s Green Kirkland Partnership, volunteers worked to remove invasive Himalayan blackberry from the park and cover the cleared areas with mulch. The efforts from these workers allowed for more opportunities for native plants to spread.

To learn more about the Green Kirkland Partnership and upcoming opportunities to volunteer, visit their website here.

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   March 1, 2017

In February, Otak presented the design for a multi-purpose building in Rocky Flats, Colorado in the third "Sharing Session" hosted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The community meeting, held at the Broomfield Community Center, was well attended by over 100 interested members. Amy Scheckla-Cox, Architect, presented the main building design goals which include a LEED Silver certification level and Net Zero Energy. 

An exhibit hall will feature of the life cycle of the site, which includes Cold War-era developments of the nuclear plant facility, the decommissioning of the facility, the remediation of the Superfund site and the Department of Energy transferring a portion of the property to the USFWS to restore the land as a wildlife refuge.

Currently, the design is at 25% completion and Otak is working with Stantec. Otak is providing architecture, landscape architecture, and structural design.

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