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November 27, 2017

November 15 was a day to remember. Otak advanced into the future, unveiling our new brand to the entire company. The rebrand, which includes Otak and its divisions Day CPM and Loris, involves a complete redesign of company logos, typefaces, and collateral material (resumes, financial sheets, etc.). The new logo will grace everything from letterheads to company trucks. 

The logo is designed to “represent Otak’s foundational benefit to our clients – a convergence of people, disciplines, services, and companies moving toward a common horizon.” 

Soon to follow the rebrand will be the unveiling of our new website.

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September 22, 2017

On Friday, September 15, cities across the world participated in PARK(ing) Day, an event in which parking spaces are temporarily converted to public parks. Teams from Otak offices in Portland and Denver contributed to parks in their respective cities, taking the opportunity to temporarily transform an ordinary parking space into a beautiful piece of urban landscape.

In Portland, designers from Otak’s PAD group collaborated with Friends of Trees to create a Micro Forest. The Micro Forest was a big hit—several Otak departments held meetings in the space, and diners from the adjacent Chipotle restaurant enjoyed having a cozy, shaded space to devour their burritos.

The landscape architecture team from Otak’s Denver office partnered with students and local designers to create the biggest PARK(ing) Day installation in the city, consisting of five parking spaces in front of Union Station. Otak oversaw the event and designed two of the spaces. The installation was designed to address adaptive reuse.

According to PARK(ing) Day’s website, “The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space and sustainable design, to generate debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat...at least until the meter runs out!”

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August 31, 2017

Otak is pleased to annouce that Ben Bortolazzo has been appointed to the City of Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). Ben will join a group of 11 volunteers who review policies that affect land use other sectors of the community. 

To read the full press release from the City of Portland, click here.

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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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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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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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October 11, 2016

By Mandi Roberts

One of the best ways to enhance community livability and strengthen neighborhoods is to design certain core streets to serve multiple purposes—as complete streets for multi-modal transportation and as festival streets, designed as pedestrian and open air market shared space that can be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic during special celebrations and events. Otak was proud to co-host a “walkshop” of our Georgetown Festival Street Project at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) annual conference, held in Seattle in late September. The theme of the conference “Designing Cities” offered sessions and mobile workshops on a variety of innovative and interesting urban design and innovative street design topics. Otak partnered with Fehr & Peers and the City of Seattle Department of Transportation to host the walking tour of the vibrant Georgetown Neighborhood, focused on the recent festival street improvements. For the Georgetown Walkshop guide, click here

The Georgetown Festival Street Walkshop hosts highlighted neighborhood history and background, revitalization of the area, some of the unique challenges of designing a festival street, the importance of neighborhood engagement, the role the improvement area serves in hosting street parties, design references (including best practice built examples and the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide), and some of the innovative features and public art elements integrated into the design. Two Walkshops were offered on two separate days of the conference and each was well-attended. Each group made special stop at the World Famous Fran’s Chocolates factory and guest gallery, a sweet spot at the end of the tour! Special thanks to our Walkshop team: Art Brochet and Therese Casper with SDOT, Will Lisska with Fehr & Peers, and Lori McFarland and Mandi Roberts with Otak.

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September 27, 2016

The 40th Annual Washington State Public Transportation Conference was held last week in Wenatchee, Washington. Held since 1976, this year’s 40th annual conference was hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation and focused on key areas of Community Engagement, Local Solutions, and Statewide Investments.

Otak sponsored the conference and hosted a session entitled “Active Transportation on the Rise, Integrated Design of Shared-Use Paths,” which featured speakers Doug Sarkkinen, Windi Shapley, and Mandi Roberts. The session highlighted some key challenges related to implementing shared-use paths and how these challenges can be addressed through integrated design. (click here to view the presentation)

Brian Burby and Allen Hendy also attended the conference, hosting Otak’s exhibitor booth and networking with existing and potential clients. The conference and our session were well attended, and we received very positive feedback from a variety of the session participants, as well as conference attendees who stopped by the booth.

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September 20, 2016

For PARK(ing) Day 2016, Otak created a “Dream Lounge” to invite passersby to relax and enjoy a temporary parklette within the city.

To engage participants, we posted writing prompts on two whiteboards. One was a “continuous story” where each participant added a sentence. The resulting story was the following:

Everything was quiet. Too quiet. That’s when I noticed the dragon terrorizing the village. I pulled on the dragon’s tail to see what would come from its mouth. Instead of fire, there came confetti and candy! 

“We all have our own reality,” replied the wizard…

I woke in a cold sweat realizing I was late for work, hurried to the car, commuted 25 miles and realized I only have ONE shoe. So, I took off my other shoe. Then I remembered it was Saturday. I decided to visit the Farmer’s Market so I could hear the bard’s song, the famous and beloved ballad “The Merry Dance of the Sugar Daddies.” 

_____________

The other whiteboard asked, “If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?"

PARK(ing) Day temporarily transforms metered parking spaces into community spaces. Bringing together citizens, artists, and activists, this global event collaboratively brings new forms to public space in urban contexts. We enjoyed sharing our parklette with the city and look forward to creating enduring community gathering places in our future projects.

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August 3, 2016

On Tuesday, August 2nd the Architecture, Planning and Design Team kicked off their lunchtime sketching sessions with a trip to the Ira Keller Fountain. Sketching sessions will be held at a different downtown location each week.  The team is looking forward to enjoying Portland’s great urban spaces and the beautiful summer weather.

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July 27, 2016

The Architecture, Planning, and Design Group staff and their families recently took time to relax and have fun at a potluck picnic at the countryside home of one of its architects. Along with the epicurean delights and good conversation, a plethora of activities were enjoyed by the picnic participants. Games included full-size Jenga, frisbee, archery, and tight-rope walking. Activities for the kids, young and old, included petting and feeding the baby goats, jumping in the bouncy house, and having their faces painted with fun designs.

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July 8, 2016

Yellowstone National Park, Brink of Upper Falls Overlook came in at number one to receive a $250,000 grant!

 

For more information click here.

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June 14, 2016

Otak’s overlook rehabilitation design at the Brink of the Upper Falls in Yellowstone National Park is one of 20 national park unit projects competing for a $250,000 grant through a public voting contest. Brink of the Upper Falls is just one of several sites from Phase 1 of our Yellowstone National Parks Overlooks and Trails Project, which will provide much-needed restoration and improvements to the deteriorating north and south rim trails and overlooks that wrap the Canyon Rim—from Inspiration Point to Artist Point. Phase 1 design solutions include re-routing trails away from dangerous areas and installing stone and boulder barriers; connecting historic overlooks with new walkways; creating safe, accessible viewing areas with new informational signage; and using natural materials to integrate the infrastructure into the spires and Canyon cliffs.

 

 

Show your support for Yellowstone and our project by going to www.voteyourpark.org and voting daily until July 5th. Once you’ve signed up and voted, you can also enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Yellowstone National Park—each day you vote, you get an additional entry! 

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June 7, 2016

 

Ben Bortolazzo | Director of Planning & Design, Portland

Ben Bortolazzo has been promoted to Director of Planning & Design in the Portland office. Ben’s unique talents and experience as an urban planner, urban designer in urban planning, design and architecture, provide him with the comprehensive skills to take on this leadership position and strengthen the connection between Planning and Design, Architecture and the TIS civil team. As part of this role, Ben will also be working closely with our landscape architecture team in Vancouver in association with the common clients shared between both teams.

As Ben takes on this role, Don Hanson will continue to provide mentorship and guidance with client relations and team management. Ben will help guide the Planning and Design group as a facilitator and incubator of the type of exciting projects that are often result in integration of all of Otak disciplines. Ben will continue to be active in managing clients and some discreet architecture projects to support continuity and growth within the architecture practice.

Mike Morrow | Survey Party Chief, Gearhart

Mike Morrow has been promoted from Survey Field Technician to Survey Party Chief in our Gearhart office. Mike has been a quick learner and is a great member of our team; this promotion is a reflection of the great work Mike has done and we’re looking forward to a strong future with the current opportunities to expand our work on the Oregon Coast.  

Paul Pellicani | Manager of Architecture, Tempe

Paul Pellicani will take on the role of Manager of Architecture in Arizona.  Paul has largely been filling this role since he joined Otak last August and has done an exemplary job with client service, staff leadership and management of projects to completion while maintaining profitability. Paul will be working closely with Brian Fleener and our architecture team in Portland to continue to build our architecture business in Arizona and deliver great design work for our clients.

Windi Shapley | Project Manager, Redmond

Windi Shapley has transitioned her role from lead Project Engineer to full-time Project Manager over this last year. Windi has played a key role in our work with Community Transit and is leading management of SWIFT II BRT, which involves a 13-mile transit route and 30 new transit stations in south Snohomish County. Windi is highly organized and very client focused and we are confident that she will continue to excel in her new role, moving forward.  

Sylwia Jaszczak-Follehr | Survey Party Chief, Redmond

Sylwia Jaszczak-Follehr has been promoted from Survey Field Technician to Survey Party Chief in our Redmond office. Sylwia has advanced quickly within our survey team and enthusiastically taken on increased field responsibilities this past year. Sylwia’s work ethic, eagerness to learn, and commitment to quality have been a great benefit to our team and projects.

Tyson Hounsel | Project Manager, Redmond

Tyson Hounsel has been promoted from Project Engineer to Project Manager. Tyson continues to be a key technical resource for WNR and for the Redmond/Everett offices and has been expanding his role to include various project management assignments. Tyson provides a broad background that includes both public sector and private development experience. Among his many duties, Tyson is currently managing work for Snohomish County and just beginning a newly won project for the City of Shoreline.


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March 30, 2016

Last Tuesday evening, Lori McFarland, Eva Ho, Marina Howard, Matthew Scarsella, and Curtis LaPierre (past Otakian) attended the WTS Puget Sound Annual Scholarship & Awards Gala at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle. This event recognizes outstanding transportation projects, programs, and people in the Puget Sound area. Dinner was served, Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit’s CEO, spoke on his support of WTS’ mission and opportunities in our region’s transportation system, and then our team, including client, City of Seattle Department of Transportation, accepted an award for the Georgetown Festival Street project. A good time was had by all!

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May 5, 2015

Otak’s Don Hanson recently co-chaired the City of Portland’s Southeast Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee. The 27-member committee held 14 meetings to discuss and review a draft of the Southeast Quadrant Proposed Plan. The committee recently held its final meeting and recommended the proposed plan to the City of Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission.

The Southeast Quadrant Plan is part of the City’s ongoing Central City 2035 (CC2035) project to update the City’s plan and policies. Otak was also involved in the West Quadrant portion of CC2035 through leading a week-long design charrette. Don Hanson, a long-time Portlander, has served on a number of committees and commissions for the City, including the Planning and Sustainability Commission, Development Review Advisory Committee, Stakeholder Advisory Group for Vision 2000, Urban Renewal District Status Committee, and the Citizen Advisory Committee reviewing the Title 34 Land Development Ordinance.

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March 2, 2015

Otak is pleased to welcome 14 new hires!

 Vancouver

Patrick O'Neill has joined Otak as a Bridge Engineer/Project Manager. He has worked on a wide range of projects, including long-span bridges, movable bridges, rail projects, and new and existing steel, concrete, and timber structures. His services on these projects have included design, load rating, inspection, analysis, and QA/QC. Patrick earned his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland and his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University.

Bree Hines has joined Otak as a Project Assistant. She brings ten years of experience encompassing financial, administrative, and customer service roles, including two-and-a-half years in the A/E/C industry. Bree earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Business from Portland Community College.

 

Tempe

 Laura Martin has joined Otak as a Landscape Design Professional. She brings over 15 years of experience and professional skills in all areas of landscape architecture from conceptual design and visioning through design development, construction documents, and field supervision. She has worked on various large, high-end resorts and hotels, as well as multifamily and institutional projects in the United States and Mexico. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Morelos State University in Mexico.

 

Redmond

 Brent Deets has joined Otak as a Bridge Engineer. Prior to joining Otak, he worked for five years as a Senior Structural Engineer at a private engineering firm where he specialized in bridge design. He earned his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil (Structural) Engineering from the University of Southern California, and he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Richmond.

 Shannon Gray, LEED AP BD+C, has joined Otak as a water resources engineering designer. She brings over five years of experience in sustainability, water resources, and engineering, and she has worked on a variety of site development and street improvement projects. She possesses a strong background in roadway drainage, urban stormwater design, hydraulic analysis, and flood mitigation. Shannon earned her Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado, and her Bachelor of Science in Sociology from College of Charleston.

 

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


Bernie Viloria has rejoined Otak as a Highway Design Manager. He has over 24 years of experience in the field of engineering with an emphasis on highway design. He has extensive experience in the design of interchanges, roadways, internal roads, drainage, and street lighting. Bernie earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from St. Louis University, and he has been working in the United Arab Emirates for almost 20 years.

 

Portland


Glen Bolen, AICP, has joined Otak as a Senior Planner. He brings 20 years of planning experience in Oregon and nationally. He has a proven record of success on planning projects ranging from small area urban design plans to city comprehensive plans, as well as multi-jurisdictional regional programs. He specializes in land use, transportation planning, and urban development. Glen earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon.

Brian Burby has joined Otak as Vice President/Business Development Director. He has led numerous sales efforts from strategic sales assignments to smaller “sustainer” projects. He also brings experience coaching and mentoring sales and business development staff on sales processes and tools. Brian earned his Master of Science degree in Environmental Biology from Ohio State University, and his Bachelor of Art degree in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Amy DuBoff has joined Otak as a Senior Marketing Coordinator. She brings seven years of experience in proposal preparation and marketing coordination. At her previous firm, she wrote and edited proposal content, solicited and coordinated information from internal team members and consultants, and managed an opportunity database. Amy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Portland State University.

 

Denver


Blair Vajda, PE, has joined Otak as a Senior Project Engineer/Project Manager. She brings nearly ten years of experience in water resource engineering with a special focus on restoring the natural function of stream ecosystems using an integrated approach of science and engineering. Blair earned her Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering - Hydraulics from Colorado State University, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry from Cornell University. She is currently the President of the Colorado Riparian Association.

Julie Ash, PE, has joined Otak as a Senior Project Engineer/Project Manager. Prior to joining Otak, she served as Engineering Group Director of a multidiscipline water and natural resources team that specialized in water resources, particularly river corridor restoration. Julie earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University.

Rachel Williams has joined Otak as a Water Resources Engineering Designer. She brings experience supporting a multidiscipline team with a range of hydraulics, sediment transport, and design tasks. She has developed and updated 1D hydraulic models for existing design conditions on different streams, and she has assisted on designs for bank stabilization, habitat improvement, and flood mitigation. Rachel earned her Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Colorado State University, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Resources Engineering.

Luke Swan has joined Otak as a Senior Geomorphologist. He brings nine years of experience in flood and watershed planning, river restoration, geomorphic process modeling, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, GIS, and remote sensing. Luke earned his Master of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from Central Washington University, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Geography from Ohio University.

Tracy Emmanuel has joined Otak as a Geomorphologist. She is experienced in geomorphic stream corridor assessments, sediment budgets, sediment transport and scour analyses, and large-scale stream inventories. She has worked on numerous multidisciplinary teams and is knowledgeable in one- and two-dimensional hydraulic modeling, channel and bank stabilization design, fish habitat design, and riparian revegetation.

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February 12, 2015

Otak’s Rudayna Abdo and Aaron Schemeck recently spoke at the Abu Dhabi Future Landscape & Public Realm Conference at the Westin Abu Dhabi Hotel. Their presentation, titled Personalizing Our Public Spaces: How Everyone Can Benefit, offered an animated reflection upon how we use our public realm and what opportunities and responsibilities we bear in taking ownership of our open spaces.

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January 27, 2015

Last Friday night at their annual awards banquet, ACEC Washington presented Otak with an award!

 In the category of Social, Economic, and Sustainable Design Considerations, Otak was given a Silver Award for our Northeast Redevelopment Area (NERA) Regional Infiltration Facilities and Miller Creek Enhancements in Burien, Washington. This project is a great example of integrated design, involving our WNR, PAD, and TIS groups.

Otak and the City of Burien have created a unique stormwater management system for the City’s Northeast Redevelopment Area. This project will lead to a faster redevelopment of an area impacted by airport operations. The system utilizes low impact development techniques and several different types of stormwater management methods to replicate natural hydrologic processes that have been observed in the area. The project results in improved water quality and reduced stream erosion in Miller Creek and enhances wetlands in the area. Public open spaces and trails have been integrated into the stormwater facilities and airport safety needs have been accommodated in the design as well. The response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’re now making lemonade out of lemons by creating a new, compatible land use that will be a wonderful thing into the future.”
- Kamuron Gurol, Burien City Manager

“The systems save money, they produce beautiful areas, and they clean our water. It’s a real win for everybody.”
- Mark Powell, Washington Environmental Council

 

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December 8, 2014

We are pleased to welcome three new hires working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates!

Rawa Fawaz, PQP, has joined Otak as an Engineer/Project Coordinator. She brings nine years of experience as a Civil Engineer specializing in sustainability, quantity surveying, and specification writing. She has provided technical services on a wide variety of projects such as villas, industrial factories, towers, and communities. Rawa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Water Resource/Civil Engineering from the University of Baghdad.

Alex Gandy has joined Otak as an Urban Planner. He brings a strong academic background with practical experience in key planning disciplines, as well as enthusiasm and passion for urban planning. He is conversant with the use of relevant planning tools and innovative approaches to complex issues. Alex earned his Master’s degree in Spatial Planning from Bartlett School of Planning, University College in London, United Kingdom, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from University of Durham, United Kingdom.

Aaron Schemeck has joined Otak as a Landscape Architect. He is an experienced landscape architect capable of supervising challenging projects in urban design, planning, and transportation enhancement projects. He is also well-versed in traditional landscape architectural design and planning on a wide range of resort, commercial, retail, residential and leisure, entertainment, and hospitality projects. Aaron earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University.

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November 26, 2014

Otak is pleased to welcome seven new hires!

Portland

Shawn Goodpaster has joined Otak as Senior Contracts Manager.  He brings an extensive background in labor and employment consultation, contract negotiation, and human resources matters in courts and before administrative agencies. Shawn earned his JD from Emory University School of Law, his MBA from the University of Louisville College of Business & Public Administration, and his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from the University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences.

Michael Rafferty, PE, LEED AP, has joined Otak as a Senior Water Resources Engineer/Project Manager. He brings more than 12 years of experience integrating stream restoration, geomorphology, water resources, and civil site development. He has served in project management and engineering roles on a wide variety of project types from conceptual design through construction. Michael earned his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering - Stream Restoration, Hydraulics, and River Mechanics from Colorado State University, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University.

Redmond

 

Cristina Haworth has joined Otak as a Planner/GIS Technician. She brings experience with complex integrated planning and zoning initiatives at both city and neighborhood scales and has familiarity with land use and development law. Cristina earned her Master of City Planning and certificate in GIS and Spatial Analysis from the University of Pennsylvania and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Community, Environment, and Planning from the University of Washington.

Seungjin Baek, PhD, PE, has joined Otak as a Senior Project Engineer. He brings over seven years of research and consulting experience with emphasis on hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and water quality modeling projects with 2D and 3D modeling. Seungjin earned his PhD and Master of Science degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

Shelby Petro has joined Otak as a Wetlands Scientist. She brings seven years of experience in science and environmental consulting. Shelby earned her Master’s of Environmental Science and Management degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Jesse Reynolds has joined Otak as a Geospatial Planner. Jesse brings eight years of GIS/GPS experience in public and private sectors, as well as a diverse background in field work including resource grade Trimble GPS, site remediation studies, conservation biology studies in remote and mountainous areas, river resource surveys, and explosives handling via avalanche control work. Jesse earned his Master’s of Urban Planning degree from the University of Washington and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography/Geographic Information Systems from Western Washington University.

Tempe

 

Chad Hayashi has joined Otak as a Landscape Design Professional. Prior to joining Otak, he worked as a draftsman/CAD manager at a private architecture firm where he managed CAD file preparation, drawing review, and delivery to clients. He also developed a strong set of skills by reviewing and recognizing code compliance. Chad earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University.

 

 

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November 24, 2014

Otak's office in Kirkland, Washington, has recently relocated to Redmond! After purging, packing, and moving, we are all settled in at our new address, which is:

11241 Willows Road NE
Suite 200
Redmond, WA 98052

Our phone and fax numbers have not changed.

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September 10, 2014

Otak is pleased to welcome 12 new hires!

Oregon/Southwest Washington

Melissa Toman has joined Otak as a job captain working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. She brings four years of experience in the design industry, and prior to joining Otak she served as the lead production member at a private architecture firm. Her responsibilities included producing design development drawings, 3D models and construction documents, and communicating with clients and consultants. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Architecture from Woodbury University in San Diego, California.

Jeremy Tamargo has joined Otak as a water resources engineering designer working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. He brings extensive experience collecting urban stormwater field samples, laboratory work, producing written reports, and generating computer models. He earned his Master of Science in Environmental Engineering and his certificate of advanced study in sustainable enterprise from Syracuse University and his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Ben Bross has joined Otak as a project engineer working out of our office in Vancouver, Washington. He brings over 15 years of experience in civil engineering, and he spent the past 10 years working for the Washington Department of Transportation as a civil engineer and construction inspector. His responsibilities included designing transportation and infrastructure; preparing contract plans, specifications, and estimates; and coordinating multidisciplinary design groups, as well as coordination with stakeholders. Ben earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Washington State University.

Aaron Richard has joined Otak as a recruiter/HR generalist working out of our corporate office in Portland, Oregon. He has been working in the human resources field for the past 14 years.

Jeffrey Sherman has joined Otak as a landscape architect working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He brings experience in urban design, land planning, open space planning, transportation, transit, and multidisciplinary projects. Prior to joining Otak, Jeffrey owned and operated an award-winning urban design and landscape architecture firm while simultaneously owning, operating, and managing a major manufacturer of urban street and transit furniture. He earned his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arizona, and he studied architecture at the University of La Salle in Mexico City.

Richard Johnson has joined Otak as a project architect working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He brings 27 years of project experience working on the planning and design of new and re-use projects for public, commercial, educational, and healthcare clients. His experience includes working directly with clients, contractors, and design teams throughout all phases of project development. Richard earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona, and he is a registered architect in Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Skyler Flood has joined Otak as a landscape design professional working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He is well-versed in research, drafting plans, and both hand-rendering and 3D modeling programs. Skyler recently earned his Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University, and he is active in the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Geoff Brady has returned to Otak as a landscape design professional working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. Geoff brings extensive experience in landscape design and GIS analysis. His specialties include desert-adapted and arid planting design, urban planning and design, and modeling. He has worked on a variety of projects, including master-planned communities, private residences, commercial complexes, streetscapes, and parks and community areas. Geoff earned his Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University.

Puget Sound

Marina Howard has joined Otak as a civil engineering designer working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. She has served as an engineering intern at Clackamas County, as well as private engineering firms. Marina earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Santa Clara University, and she is a LEED Green Associate.

Abu Dhabi

Mohamed Sali Jaleelulla has joined Otak as a material inspector working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He brings 30 years of experience working as a materials inspector in the United Arab Emirates, and he has worked on a wide range of road, bridge, and civil engineering projects. Mohamed earned his degree in civil engineering from the Board of Technical Education in Kerala, India.

Ali Mohamed Ahmed Ali has joined Otak as an electromechanical inspector working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He brings 20 years of experience in electrical engineering and 11 years of experience working in the United Arab Emirates. Ali earned his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Menofia University in Egypt.

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August 29, 2014

Yesterday, the City of Mesa, Arizona, revealed design concepts for the Mesa City Center Design Competition. Otak is one of three design teams selected to submit a 15% concept design for a signature plaza in Mesa's city center.

 Otak’s team re-imagined the project site as the heart of a bustling, revitalized downtown, filled with people. The design features a Living Room Plaza surrounded and enlivened by eight acres of mixed-use development that will serve as a catalyst for downtown revitalization. These development opportunities, which can include housing, retail, office, and possibly a hotel, will attract people to downtown Mesa, not just during special events, but every day. Next, the City of Mesa will select one of the three concept designs to guide the future of downtown.

To learn more about Otak’s vision for a revitalized Mesa city center, watch the video below:

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March 26, 2014

Last week, Nico Vanderhorst, Otak's project manager, attended the dedication ceremony for the recently finished University of Washington Bothell Discovery Hall building. Governor Jay Inslee was also in attendance. As a subconsultant to THA Architecture, Otak provided civil engineering and planning services for this new $68 million, 75,000 square foot science and academic building.

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January 28, 2014

The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox project created by Otak won an APA National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning! The toolbox is a companion document to the Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan for Hawaii and presents context sensitive design guidelines and complete streets design details, as well as guidance for education, maintenance, and operation of pedestrian facilities. In addition to developing the toolbox, Otak assisted CH2M Hill, the prime consultant for the project, with overall plan development, graphic design, and stakeholder involvement and education efforts. The plan documents policy, existing conditions, and efforts in education, enforcement, and engineering that will be used to implement pedestrian initiatives and improve pedestrian safety in Hawaii. The Hawaii Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration provided leadership and guidance for the project. Otak is proud to have been a part of the team on this important, award-winning project!

To visit the APA Awards website, please click here.

To view the Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan and Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox, please click here.

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December 11, 2013

Last month, Otak Planner and Preservationist, Derek Chisholm, won two awards for recent preservation projects. Derek was responsible for assisting CID Bioscience with their rehabilitation of the 1935 American Legion Hall in Camas, Washington. He led the historic register nomination research, historic tax benefit applications, and grant writing. Six projects were honored at the 2013 Community Pride Design Awards ceremony in Vancouver, and The Hall was one of the six winners.

Additionally, last month the Clark County Historical Society awarded its 2013 Group Heritage Award to the Kiggins Theatre renovation team that included Derek. The award recognizes “a group that has made significant contributions to maintaining the history and/or historic character of our communities.” In his role as preservation planner, Derek worked on the National Register Nomination, taxes, and related design decisions. We congratulate Derek and the team!

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November 19, 2013

Otak’s Rudayna Abdo participated in Abu Dhabi’s Building Sustainability conference. She took part in a panel on Regenerative Urban Planning and Design, which discussed the approach of regenerative design and how it differs from the concept of sustainable design, as well as how passive design can be used to save costs and enhance intangible aspects of livability.

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November 7, 2013

Don Hanson, Director of Planning, Architecture, and Design at Otak, has been elected onto the City of Portland's SE Quadrant Plan Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the Central City 2035 SE Quadrant Plan. According to the City of Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the SE Quadrant Plan will "examine a range of land use, urban design, transportation, environmental and economic development issues, which will result in recommendations for policies to guide future public and private investment and development" in the study area.

The committee will include approximately 20 stakeholders representing various interests in the area. Don brings both technical expertise and unparalleled knowledge of the City of Portland. As a long-time resident, he has served on numerous committees for the City, including the Stakeholder Advisory Group for Vision 2000, the Development Review Advisory committee, the Citizen Advisory Committee Member reviewing the title 34 Land Development Ordinance, the Committee for Reviewing the Urban Renewal Districts Status, and the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, of which he is a current member and past chair. Don is an ideal candidate for this position, and we are confident that he will prove as invaluable to this committee as he is to Otak.

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November 4, 2013

In late October, Otak’s Tom Litster attended the Rail~Volution conference in Seattle, Washington. This annual conference attracts a diverse group of people interested in the development of high-capacity transit systems (light rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit), access to those systems, and the social and economic impacts on the communities served. The region was well-represented in attendance by elected officials, public agency staff, and consultants.

Major themes included transit’s impact on economic development, bringing investment to urban communities, and achieving social and economic equity within station areas. These themes represent a growing national consensus around the measures of success for 21st century transit-oriented development. Along those lines, participation by non-profits on session panels was notable. Their mission is to ensure affordable opportunities for housing and small-scale businesses in developing station areas. There were also a few sessions addressing challenges of the “first mile, last mile” for transit riders. This shows that transit agencies are thinking about customers beyond the actual stop amenities, understanding that the walk and the bike ride are also part of the transit trip. Bike share programs received considerable attention, along with travel demand management and parking strategies.

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October 10, 2013

Otak was a sponsor at this year’s American Planning Association - Washington Chapter Conference in Bellevue, Washington. Over 400 professionals attended the two-day event, and our firm was well-represented. Mandi Roberts, Otak principal, spoke on several topics including Otak’s Cascade Loop Scenic Byway Plan, professional ethics, and our award-winning Cool Planning Handbook. She also moderated a panel titled Growing Transit Communities on the Eastside. Mandi and other Otak staff members are currently working with the Growing Transit Communities Partnership of Puget Sound Regional Council to transform Puget Sound’s Eastside station areas into more vibrant, economically healthy neighborhoods, and you can read more about this project by clicking here.

The conference also featured an update to the APA’s Game Changing Initiatives and Actions document, which features contributions from several Otak planners. This document provides recommendations on how to create great communities in spite of economic, political, and environmental challenges.

The conference provided a wonderful platform for exchanging knowledge with our peers, and we look forward to next year’s event!

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October 9, 2013

Otak has formed a strategic partnership with Urban People and Space Design Studio (UPS), a talented design firm in Beijing, China. Yubo Zou, founding principal of UPS, visited Otak’s Portland office with two members of his team. Otak’s Martin Glastra van Loon and Derek Chisholm worked in partnership with UPS on a master plan for a downtown civic center, and Otak is supporting UPS with water resources, engineering, and transportation design. UPS also met with some of Otak’s designers and engineers and toured Clean Water Services’ facilities, which represent some of the most advanced and sustainable designs in the world. We are looking forward to our collaborative efforts with UPS!

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August 1, 2013

Otak staff recently attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Woodburn Interchange and Transit Facility Project. The reconstructed and improved interchange and the transit facility will serve the City of Woodburn and improve safety and operations for I-5 travelers. Otak had a significant role in this project. Our work began with a re-evaluation of an earlier Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Environmental Assessment.  That effort was followed by a Context Sensitive and Sustainable Solutions community engagement process and a final design role in the following project elements:
 
• Evergreen Transit/Park-and-Ride facility
• Evergreen Road extension
• Aesthetic enhancements for reconstructed interchange over I-5
• Aesthetic enhancements for sound walls
• Stormwater management
• Landscape and irrigation design
 
The project will be completed in 2016, and Otak will provide construction services in support of ODOT staff until completion. If you want to know more about the project, check out the ODOT project website, which features a number of our concept design illustrations:

www.woodburnInterchange.com

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July 16, 2013

Creating Vibrant Urban Neighborhoods Outreach and Information Gathering is part of Otak’s East Corridor Implementation Support project for the Growing Transit Communities Partnership.

 

What is the Growing Transit Communities Partnership (GTCP)?
Coordinated by the Puget Sound Regional Council and involving partners such as the cities of Bellevue and Redmond, A Regional Coalition for Housing, and others, the GTCP is a regional effort to help make the most of voter-approved $15 billion investments in regional high capacity transit. The Partnership is committed to implementing economically vibrant and diverse neighborhoods and communities around high capacity transit stations throughout the region. There are four focus areas of the East Corridor Implementation Support project sponsored by GTCP: Affordable housing, business retention and attraction, transportation access and connectivity, and partnerships. The Partnership is funded by a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.

East Link: http://www.soundtransit.org/x6886.xml
Derby Days: http://www.redmondderbydays.com/

On Saturday, July 13, Otak staff (Mandi Roberts, Liz Johnson, and Finis Ray) engaged eastside residents at the annual Redmond Derby Days in visioning future urban neighborhood settings along the East Link extension of light rail. Participants were asked to show what neighborhood elements are most important and appealing when considering urban living. Otak provided information in order to help residents visualize the planned redevelopment of east corridor station areas, such as Overlake Village, into vibrant, urban neighborhoods for all ages. Liz and Finis, urban planning interns in Otak’s Kirkland office, will be compiling the results with the intent to better understand what might attract families and multi-generational residents to the new urban neighborhoods that will emerge on the eastside around light rail.

Using an interactive visual preference survey, Otak captured the public’s suggestions and ideas about what makes a neighborhood vibrant and family friendly. A kids table invited children to draw the favorite things about their neighborhood. Participation was enthusiastic! A companion online survey will be live all summer and through early fall at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VibrantNeighborhoods. Everyone is invited to participate in the online survey; we welcome all input! So please tell us what elements are most important for urban neighborhoods.

Derby Days was the first of several stops for Otak’s Vibrant Urban Neighborhoods booth. The display will also be hosted at other at future community events on the eastside this summer and early fall.

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July 15, 2013

Congressman Earl Blumenauer recently toured Otak’s new Portland office and met with R. Nicholas Loope, FAIA, Otak’s President and CEO. He then met with a group of Otak staff for a brownbag lunch and town hall-style meeting where he discussed the priorities for essential infrastructure, transit, energy efficiency, clean water, and sustainable economic growth. We appreciate Congressman Blumenauer taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us, and we applaud his tireless advocacy for livable communities. He is always welcome back at Otak!

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July 8, 2013

Otak is pleased to announce the following new hires working out of our offices in Washington:

Kirkland, Washington

Sheila Ranganath, PE, has joined Otak as a water resources engineer. She brings five years of experience in planning, design, and construction of water resource projects. Sheila’s areas of expertise include water resources planning studies, project designs and specifications, and bioengineering design for stream bank erosion control and habitat restoration. She earned her Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering, Land and Water Resources from Virginia Tech, and she is a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

Nancy Acton has joined Otak as a receptionist and project assistant. She brings 20 years of experience in administrative assistance and office management. Nancy earned he Associates in Arts & Sciences from Bellevue College and her Executive Assistant Certificate from the Business & Medical Training Center in Seattle, Washington.

Jessica Redman has joined Otak as a wetland scientist. She brings 11 years of multidisciplinary science experience. Prior to joining Otak, she worked as a fisheries observer and at-sea monitor in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the Northeast Atlantic, and Hawaiian Islands. Jessica earned a Master of Arts in Marine and Environmental Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Miami, and a Certificate in Wetlands Science and Management from the University of Washington.

Dave Stewart has joined Otak as a water resources engineer. He brings expertise in water resource issues including stormwater modeling, drainage design, hydrology, hydraulics, flood hazard mitigation, water quality, and sediment transport. Dave earned a Master of Science in Water Resources Engineering, Agricultural and Biosystems, from the University of Arizona, and a Bachelor of Science in Water Resources Engineering, Biological Systems, from Virginia Tech.

Finis Ray has joined Otak as a planning intern working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. He brings knowledge of interior design, urban design, and historic preservation, and his professional experience includes work as an urban design intern on the Nashville Civic Design Center in Tennessee. Finis earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from O’More College of Design, and he is currently pursuing his Master of Urban Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington.

Ahmed Kayanda has joined Otak as a CAD technician. Prior to joining Otak, Ahmed was a CAD Intern at a private engineering firm. He also has experience working with conservation architects for UNESCO to renovate and restore historical buildings in Zanzibar. Ahmed earned his Associates degree in Civil Engineering Graphics from Lake Washington Institute of Technology. He also earned his Associates degree in Civil Engineering from Karume Technical College in Zanzibar.

Ellen Webster has joined Otak as a civil engineering designer. She brings experience in roadway and site design for a variety of municipal projects. Prior to joining Otak, Ellen served as treasurer and build leader for the Habitat for Humanity Club and was a Honduras Project Member for Engineers Without Borders. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Portland. Ellen is currently working on projects for the cities of Redmond and Woodinville.

Liz Johnson has joined Otak as a summer intern. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Urban Planning at the University of Washington and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the College of New Jersey.

Vancouver, Washington

Theo Malone has joined Otak as a water resources engineering designer. He brings over a year of experience in site assessment, post-construction monitoring, hydrologic modeling, and field testing procedures. Prior to joining Otak, Theo worked as a Watershed Services Intern for the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Theo earned both his Master's and Bachelor's degrees in Environmental Engineering from Portland State University where he was also involved in Engineers Without Borders.

Vicki has joined Otak as a summer engineering intern. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Vicki is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

 

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June 7, 2013

 

The state of Oregon economic development staff invited Otak’s Don Hanson and Derek Chisholm to join a meeting with six visiting public officials from the Tianjin province of China. The event consisted of a series of presentations focused on increasing trade and general business activities between Tianjin and the Pacific Northwest, and Don delivered a presentation highlighting Otak’s talent in urban design, district planning, and architecture. The Tianjin officials asked a number of questions about our work and were keenly interested in our ability to collaborate with design teams and government departments globally, especially in China.The event was a good opportunity to share our work with a new audience and reconnect with staff from the State of Oregon and Port of Portland.

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June 5, 2013

Otak recently participated in the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Annual Planning Conference in Portland. Otak was an exhibitor, and our very own Derek Chisholm transported our exhibit booth from our Portland office to the conference on his electric tricycle! Don Hanson, Jennifer Mannhard, and Tom Litster joined Derek at the conference to tell other attendees about our new office and recent projects, and attend sessions, which focused on the lessons learned from the past 40 years of implementing Oregon’s statewide planning goals and the opportunities to improve upon our planning for the next 40 years. It was a good opportunity to reflect on our planning practice, engage new people, and reconnect with our valued clients and partners.

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May 7, 2013

Congratulations to Jenny Ngo on becoming a LEED Green Associate! Jenny is a planner working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington, and our LEED Accredited Professionals like Jenny are instrumental in helping Otak plan sustainable communities. Studying for the LEED Green Associate exam takes time and effort, and we appreciate Jenny’s hard work!

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May 7, 2013

Otak is working with the National Park Service, the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and Feet First, a nonprofit advocacy group, on Beacon Hill Street Stories, a neighborhood walkability project for high school students. Otak’s Curtis LaPierre is collaborating with other landscape architects from Seattle to help teach skills like map reading, mapping spatial elements, and reviewing the benefits of walking for the students who are participating in the program.

To learn more about Beacon Hill Street Stories, please click here.

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May 2, 2013

Otak’s Rudayna Abdo, AICP, MCIP, PQP, recently delivered a presentation at the Datamatix GCC Nationals Housing and Financing Challenges Conference at the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Rudayna’s presentation, “Delivering Affordable Housing in the GCC through Community Creation and Sustainable Development,” examined the unique demographics of the GCC and their impact on the housing market and emphasized the role of master planning in providing sustainable housing. The two-day conference was attended by regional leaders in housing, real estate, banking and finance, education, and government organizations.

Rudayna wrote at greater length about the conference on the Affordable Housing Institute blog, and you may read her blog entry by clicking here.

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April 30, 2013

Don Hanson, PLA, Director of Planning, Architecture and Design at Otak, welcomed a visiting delegation from the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to Portland, Oregon. The event was arranged by First Stop Portland, a Portland State University program that organizes study tours for visiting delegations that are interested in learning about Portland’s internationally recognized sustainability policies and best practices. The UPC delegation, which included HH Sheikh Thehab Al Nahyan, learned about how planning can encourage cities and citizens to make more ecological decisions and to understand the interaction between the public and private sectors working together towards beneficial solutions. First Stop Portland invited Don to share his expertise along with several other prominent public- and private-sector leaders in Portland, including Mayor Charlie Hales.

Don has been an active shaper of Portland planning for decades, having worked on countless projects in the city and serving on numerous committees. He served as Chairman of the Portland Planning & Sustainability Commission, which sets development and land use policies in Portland, and he is currently a member of the Commission. Otak has worked with UPC on many successful projects in the UAE, and the event highlighted the intersection of Otak’s local expertise and global reach.

To learn more about the event, please click here.

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April 25, 2013

Otak’s Urban Street Design Manual project was mentioned in a manual that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently published titled: Pedestrian Safety: A Road Safety Manual for Decision-Makers and Practitioners. According to the manual, 270,000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads each year. The manual explains the dangers that pedestrians face and offers advice on how to enhance pedestrian safety.

To download the manual, please click here.

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March 29, 2013

Otak is pleased to announce two new hires!

 


Derek Chisholm, AICP, LEED Green Associate, has joined Otak as a Senior Planner working out of our office in Vancouver, Washington. He has managed and participated in many successful city planning efforts, historic preservation and transportation projects. He has recently served as the Consultant, Environmental Project Manager for the Columbia River Crossing project. Derek earned his Masters of Public Affairs degree in Environmental Planning from Western Carolina University. He has served on various Boards of Directors, Task Forces and the Vancouver Planning Commission.


Joe Primeau has joined Otak as a Civil Designer working out of our office in Lake Oswego/Portland, Oregon.  He is experienced in both public and private engineering roles, and he is skilled in the areas of project coordination, technical writing, public involvement, construction observation, cost estimating, and document control. Joe earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University and he is currently a member of the American Public Works Association – Oregon Chapter.

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March 19, 2013

Kurt Creager, Otak’s Housing & Community Development Director, was recently invited to participate in a City of Vancouver, Washington, First Tuesday Presentation. The event, organized by the Vancouver Planning Commission, was an informational gathering to discuss “Housing for Changing Times.”

Kurt served on a panel of experts and spoke about the importance of investing in urban infrastructure such as high-capacity transit and public schools. He warned that without proper investment in these vitally important areas, “investors, homeowners, and developers will lack confidence to help build the community and create jobs.” Kurt spoke about his work at Otak with communities in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon that have invested in light rail train stations and high-capacity transit, and concluded that Vancouver must address the issue of investment certainty or “fall behind in terms of regional competitive advantage.”

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March 12, 2013

Otak International’s Rudayna Abdo, AICP, MCIP, PQP, recently chaired and presented at the three-day Future Housing Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The first day of the summit focused on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the second day focused on financing and delivery methods, and the third day, chaired by Rudayna, focused on sustainability. Rudayna and Hicham Bou Habib from Solving Efeso delivered a presentation titled “Designing for the Desired Demographic: Dissecting Housing Needs in Abu Dhabi.” They examined demographics and housing typologies and discussed the supply/demand gap and affordability issues.

Rudayna’s summary of the conference is that there needs to be a better acceptance of higher density dwelling among the nationals of the GCC and that housing must be developed as part of city and community development and not as an isolated delivery system. She stressed that housing solutions need to be found for all representatives of the population, especially lower income expatriates, and of the importance of sustainability – economic, environmental, social and cultural – as a requirement rather than an option in development. Finally, it is important to have continued meetings to evaluate and discuss the many ongoing initiatives in the region and to learn from one another at events like the Future Housing Summit.

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March 4, 2013

Otak is pleased to announce five new hires!

Michael Fadden has joined Otak as an Engineering Designer working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. He brings experience in roadway and site design for a variety of municipal projects. Prior to joining Otak, Micheal worked as an EIT for the King County Department of Transportation Bridge Unit. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington.

Beth Johannessen has joined Otak as a Landscape Design Professional working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. Prior to joining Otak, Beth worked for a private design studio in Arizona. Her design skills include urbanism, master planning, planting design, and graphic design. She received her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Arizona and her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Arizona State University (ASU) . She is an Associate Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Sigma Alpha Lambda Landscape Architecture Honor Society.

Liz Sabeff has joined Otak as a GIS Coordinator working out of our office in Denver, Colorado. Liz has worked primarily in the federal sector, most recently as the BLM on-site contractor coordinating the GIS data activities for large regional-scale natural resource assessments and developing corporate GIS data standards. She has extensive GIS experience and she developed the data standard and geodatabase for the BLM Visual Resource Management system. Liz studied Physical Geography at the University of Florida.

Andrés Felipe Fajardo Lozano has joined Otak as a Landscape Design Professional working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He has worked as a Landscape Architect Assistant at the Office of University Architects at ASU, where he assisted in developing site plans, perspectives, presentation documents, and other graphics. Andrés earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from ASU and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

David Breen has joined Otak as a Landscape Architect Intern working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He is currently studying Landscape Architecture at ASU and expects to graduate in 2014. David serves as Vice President of the American Society of Landscape Architects ASU Student Chapter.

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December 14, 2012

Last night Kurt Creager, Otak’s Director of Housing & Community Development, was inducted as a member of Lambda Alpha International: The Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics at their annual meeting in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The event was held at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountan, a four-diamond luxury resort. Lambda Alpha International was founded in 1930 to help foster the study of land economics, and Kurt was nominated by Jim Adams, Director of Real Estate with the Arizona State Land Department. Congratulations Kurt!

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November 20, 2012

Mark Swartz, RLA, ASLA, CLARB, has joined Otak as a Senior Landscape Architect and Planner working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He specializes in master-planned communities, resorts, themed-attractions and luxury high-density residential developments. Prior to joining Otak, Mark served as managing principal of the Arizona-based e group, where he managed many of the firm’s award-winning projects and oversaw their offices in Mexico and Asia. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Design: Landscape Architecture/Urban Planning from Arizona State University and his Associates Degree in Construction Technology from State University of New York at Farmingdale. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Urban Land Institute and Valley Forward Association.

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November 2, 2012

We are pleased to announce that three new employees have recently joined us at Otak!

 

 

David Richard Jones has joined Otak as a Special Projects Manager working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. David is an urban planner and urban designer with over 20 years of experience in the development industry, and he has served as project manager on a wide variety of projects in Australia and throughout the Middle East. Recently, he has worked on projects in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Syria, Qatar and Malaysia. David earned a Graduate Certificate in Urban Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional Studies from Curtin University of Technology in Australia.

 

Neil Schaner has joined Otak as an Engineer-in-Training working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. Neil earned his Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a focus on Water Resources and Hydrology from the University of Washington, and his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. While pursuing his Master’s degree, Neil worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in both the Subsurface Hydrogeochemistry Group and the Land Surface Hydrology Research Group. While pursuing his Bachelor’s degree, he was active in Engineers Without Borders where he led the student engineering design team for a water distribution project for a community of 500 in western Kenya.

 

Kaela Mansfield has joined Otak as an Engineer-in-Training working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. Prior to joining Otak, Michaela was a civil engineering/construction inspection intern at the City of Redmond Public Works in Redmond, Washington. She is a recent graduate of the University of Washington, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. While pursuing her degree, Kaela served as an Engineering Technical Apprentice at the Spokane County Engineering Department and served as a summer intern at Acme Concrete Paving, in Spokane, Washington.

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October 15, 2012

Otak’s Parvathi Nampoothiri, LEED AP, AICP, PQP, participated in a full-day workshop at the Future Cities conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on October 4, 2012.

Delegates and speakers from various disciplines across the industry gathered at the conference to discuss planning and urban development practices from around the world, with special focus on the opportunities and challenges in the Middle East.

The workshop was structured as a master class on creating livable and sustainable communities using the principles of New Urbanism. Parvathi’s presentation, ‘Rethinking Urban Streets in Abu Dhabi,’ looked at walkability and connectivity as key elements in creating livable communities. Her talk focused on creating pedestrian-friendly, multi-modal streets based on the design principles and practices established by the Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual.

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October 4, 2012

Otak’s Brad Bielenberg attended the Valley Forward Association’s 32nd annual Environmental Excellence Awards banquet last Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event is Arizona’s oldest and most prestigious awards program focused exclusively on sustainability initiatives. Tempe Council Member Cory Woods accepted the Valley Forward Award for the Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge on behalf of the City of Tempe and the T.Y. Lin team for which Otak was a subconsultant on this project.
 

At the banquet, the Bridge received yet another distinction! The bridge won a Crescordia Award, which is given to the top project for a specific category. The Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge was in the “Buildings and Structures: Industrial & Public Works” category. The display developed for the award will rotate through all Phoenix communities through the upcoming year.

 

To learn more about Otak's involvement in the Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge project, please click here.

 

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October 2, 2012

Otak’s Rudayna Abdo spoke at the Oman Transport Infrastructure Summit, which was held on September 10-13 in Muscat, Oman. The event is billed as “Oman’s only high-level networking event for executives and senior officials involved in transport infrastructure.” Over 140 local and international industry professionals attended the summit, which highlighted interest in the country as the government is embarking on massive transport and infrastructure developments. Rudayna’s topic was titled “Designing Abu Dhabi urban streets to enhance the city’s life quality and sustainability.” Her presentation included designing pedestrian-friendly streets, improving street connectivity and designing street networks to improve safety for all modes of transportation.

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September 26, 2012

 

The Winkelman Park project in Beaverton, Oregon, involves creating a level soccer field, pedestrian path, and a dog park on a steeply sloping site. With 30,000 cubic yards of earthwork required, balancing cut and fill volumes in order to control costs was of primary concern for the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District. The earthwork process included stripping and stockpiling site topsoil so the district would not need to import expensive material.

In order to help ensure the field could be used during wet weather, Otak designed a subgrade drainage system with drain pipes placed about 12 inches below the surface and 15 feet on center throughout the sport field area. The installation of the subgrade drainage system required specialty equipment using laser-guided trenching to ensure proper drainage was achieved over the relatively flat slopes of the field. Water intercepted by these pipes is directed to a collector pipe on each side of the field and channeled to a dispersion trench at the toe of the fill slope. The dispersion trench includes a level weir along its entire 200-foot length, so large volumes of storm water are evenly discharged into the adjacent sloping pasture land.

The project is currently under construction and is on schedule to be completed by the end of October.

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September 26, 2012

Otak, as subconsultant to Plan*ET, is developing an update to the Town of Gilbert’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan. Otak’s role is to provide GIS analysis of current park and recreation facilities through geoprocessing tools and develop an overall map for parks, trails and open space. Otak is also responsible for inventorying the 27 parks, approximately 70 miles of trails, and 3,200 acres of open space. Data collected ranges from general park features to detailed surfaces and site amenities along trails. Plan*ET team members will be utilizing the georeferenced data to help plan for and program new park and recreations facilities throughout this rapidly growing community of over 200,000 people in central Arizona. All data collected is stored in a geodatabase with relational tables that will help the Town make informed planning decisions as the community continues to grow and parks and recreations facilities become more integrated into the community.

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September 4, 2012

On September 20, 2012, Otak’s Mandi Roberts and Brad Bielenberg will lead a session at the American Planning Association (APA) – Arizona Chapter Conference in Flagstaff, Arizona, titled “How Cool is Your Town? Smart Growth and Transportation Strategies from the Award-Winning Cool Planning Handbook.” The Cool Planning Handbook, which received APA’s National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice earlier this year, offers communities practical guidelines for reducing their carbon footprints through integrated land use and transportation planning practices. It describes low-tech, low-cost techniques that even the smallest of towns can implement.


The session will provide attendees with strategies for smart growth and transportation, and Otak will highlight a few regional projects where the guidelines, tools and strategies of the Cool Planning Handbook have been implemented. Session participants will learn how to audit their communities and about tools and strategies for cutting transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

To view the Cool Planning Handbook, please click here.

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August 31, 2012

We are pleased to announce that Otak has recently promoted 15 professionals!

Principals:

Doug Sarkkinen, PE, SE

Kevin Timmins, PE

To learn more about our new Principals, please click here.

Senior Associates:

Lamoine Eiler, AIA, LEED AP ND

Anthony Gallacher

Lori McFarland, PE

Kevin O'Brien, PhD

To learn more about our new Senior Associates, please click here.

Associates:

 

Keith Buisman, PE

Ian Fabik, PE

Alejandra Gonzales, PQP-PVRS, PBRS

Will Lawrence, PLS

Sadie Reiter

Jack Seeds, PLS

Windi Shapley, PE

Mark Shelby, PLA, ASLA

Niko Vujevic

To learn more about our new Associates, please click here.

 

 

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August 31, 2012

On Monday, August 27th, the American Public Works Association (APWA) recognized the SW Burnham Street Improvements project as Project of the Year in the category of Transportation - $5 million but less than $25 million. Kevin Timmins attended the APWA National Congress in Anaheim, California, to accept the award on behalf of Otak. He was joined by representatives from the City of Tigard (Owner) and Kodiak Pacific Construction, which built the project. The awards evening was extended with dinner, conversation, and sharing of project images and stories from before, during and after construction of the project.

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July 5, 2012

We are pleased to announce that two new employees have joined Otak's Kirkland office!

Darcey Miller has joined Otak as a senior wetland scientist. She brings 13 years of multidisciplinary science experience and has worked on several projects in Washington, California, Montana, and Louisiana. Prior to joining Otak, Darcey worked as a shoreline biologist responding to the BP-oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and for a small planning firm based in Everett, Washington. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and English from Mary Washington College in Virginia.

 

Jenny Ngo has joined Otak as a planner. Prior to joining Otak, Jenny worked as a Sustainability Policy and Planning intern at the City of Mercer Island, a Commuter Profiles Designer with UW Commuter Services and a Publications and Graphics Designer. Jenny earned her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego and her Master of Urban Planning and Urban Design Certificate from the University of Washington.

 

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July 3, 2012

The Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge project recently won two prestigious awards! The first is a National Steel Bridge Alliance Prize Bridge Award in the Special Purpose category. The National Steel Bridge Alliance has honored outstanding and innovative steel bridges in the US since 1928, and the Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge was one of six bridges to receive a Prize Bridge Award this year. The second award is a Project of the Year Award given by the Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association. The project received the award in the category of Structures $5 to $25 million. We are honored to be part of the TYLin team that received both of these awards and thank these organizations for recognizing this project.

 

To learn more about the Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge and Otak’s involvement, please click here.

 

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June 20, 2012

 

On June 7, 2012, Otak’s urban designers, Ben Bortolazzo and Martin Glastra van Loon, were invited to participate in an intensive day-long workshop focused on Portland’s developing Central City 2035 plan (CC2035). The purpose of the workshop, organized by the Portland chapters of the AIA, ASLA and APA, was to assist the City of Portland as it moves forward with its CC2035 planning process. CC2035 is an update to the 1988 Central City Plan, which is the existing plan and policy for the downtown and central areas of Portland. In coordination with the Portland Plan, CC2035 will address challenges and opportunities in the Central City to ensure that this unique economic, transportation, cultural and educational hub will continue to be a vibrant resource over the next 25 years. Throughout the workshop, Ben and Martin explored issues, developed concepts and tested ideas with city leadership, staff and fellow professionals. Results of the successful workshop were displayed to the public as part of Portland’s monthly “First Thursday” art gallery visitation event.


Submitted by Martin Glastra Van Loon

 

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June 12, 2012

The National Association of Environmental Professionals held their annual conference last month at the Hilton Executive Tower in Portland, Oregon. Otak was a Rose Garden Sponsor and attendees included Kate Schwarzler and Andrew Midwood from our offices in Cabondale and Denver, Colorado, and Geoff Brady from our office in Tempe, Arizona. The conference was a huge success with several informative lectures including a presentation Kate delivered with Guy Cramer of HyperStealth about our work with the Bureau of Land Management’s camouflage program. Thanks in part to Kate’s presentation, plenty of people stopped by the Otak exhibit booth to ask questions. Fortunately our traditional booth was supplemented by two iPads which allowed us to present and even demonstrate some of our exciting work. We look forward to attending next year’s conference!

 

 

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May 1, 2012

Otak received the American Planning Association’s (APA) National Excellence Award for Best Practice at the APA’s National Conference in Los Angeles. Otak planners received the award for their work on Cool Planning: A Handbook on Local Strategies to Slow Climate Change. This handbook embodies Otak’s commitment to building sustainable communities, and winning such a prestigious national award for this project is a proud moment for all of us at Otak. We thank the APA for this honor and congratulate everyone who worked on this project.

 

To learn more about Cool Planning, please click here.

To view the Cool Planning handbook, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

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April 30, 2012

Otak’s

Rudayna Abdo spoke at the Oman Affordable Housing Development Summit in Muscat, Oman, which opened on April 16. Rudayna spoke about revisiting urban planning and development codes to promote development in North Wathba and Al Gharbia in the United Arab Emirates. The summit brought together an array of eminent regional and international experts to discuss strategies and solutions to the region’s housing challenges.

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April 16, 2012

 

Howdy from LA and the APA national conference. Attended really interesting sessions on healthy food planning, LA planning and city planning as viewed from literature, and an awesome master plan and implementation project in Fort Worth called Trinity Point (Texas attitude meets smart growth!). Visited Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall and LA's Union Station/Olvera Street today. 

 

Joe

 

Sent from my iPad

 

 

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April 15, 2012

Hi! The International Featured Presentation I moderated yesterday was fascinating. Dr. Aisa Kirabo-Kacyira, Assistant-Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Habitat from Kenya gave an insightful and challenging lecture to our audience of about 200 attendees. Lots of questions from the audience, and good marks all around! Sorry about no photo...couldn't take a photo of myself and Dr. Kirabo  while doing the human-interaction thing. This page from the conference program will have to do!

 

Dave

 

Sent from my iPad

 

 

 

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October 26, 2011

What's more fun than a room full of planners…talking about planning?

Otak had a blast at this year’s collaborative Oregon and Washington American Planning Association (APA) Conference in Portland, Oregon. Our own Dave Siegel spoke in a session about challenges and strategies to accommodating future growth in our region. When we weren’t attending sessions about great projects going on around the states, we were at the Otak booth talking to friends, clients and fellow planners about the great work Otak is doing across the country and abroad.

 

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October 24, 2011

Otak recently hired Emily Leete, a project assistant for Otak’s Architecture and Planning group in the Lake Oswego office. She has 15 years of experience working in the architecture and engineering industry in various administrative roles. Emily has experience in InDesign, Deltek and a variety of other software.

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October 20, 2011

Otak’s work on the SW Burnham Street Improvements project for the City of Tigard recently won a Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association, Oregon Chapter. Otak supported the City’s vision for a revitalized downtown with design and construction services to transform Burnham Street into the City’s first “green street.” The Otak team faced the unique challenge of balancing sustainability objectives with the street’s status as a major utility and freight corridor populated with longstanding small businesses. Otak provided roadway and stormwater design, water main and landscaping design, utility coordination and preparation of legal descriptions for easement and right-of-way acquisition.

Otak also won an Achievement Award from the American Planning Association, Utah Chapter, for the City of Logan’s Land Development Code Update. This project marked the City’s first major update of land use regulations since 2004. The plan converted traditional code to an innovative “place-based” system that supports the unique qualities and character for each of Logan’s geographically diverse residential, commercial and industrial zones.   

Dan Dawson, based in Otak’s Kirkland office, recently won the James Robertson Award from the American Public Works Association, Washington Chapter. This award recognizes an individual for outstanding serviceand is one of the Chapter’s most prestigious awards.

Congratulations to Dan, as well as the project team members who were recognized for their efforts on the Burnham Street and City of Logan projects. We appreciate your dedication to building better cities, stronger communities and great places that many generations will enjoy.

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September 5, 2011

For the past several years, the City of Redmond, Washington has been actively planning for the Overlake Village neighborhood to become the next urban center of Puget Sound Region’s East Side. Infrastructure development to support revitalization is already underway. Otak completed a plan for collocated parks and stormwater facilities last year, and is now working with the City to implement Phase 1.

As the City continues to evaluate how to give the neighborhood a competitive edge in the market, the potential for district energy is an important opportunity. Otak recently supported the City in hosting a forum focused on the potential for District Energy and Eco-District implementation. Eco-Districts are highly integrated neighborhoods that:

• Are resource efficient;
• Capture, manage and reuse a majority of energy, water, and waste within the district;
• Facilitate a range of transportation choices; and
• Enhance community engagement and wellbeing.

Several notable experts spoke at the forum about eco-districts, district energy, and urban planning, including Tom Puttman, Business Development and Technical Director with the Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI); David Siegel, FAICP,  principal urban planner with Otak; Stuart Yanow, a Geosystems Engineer with Geotility; and Anthony Amendola with Amendola Enterprises, Micheal Weinstein with Urban Innovations Group, and Greg Galusha with MacDonald-Miller who are supporting Energy Efficiency Collaboratives in the region. Terri Battuello, City of Bothell Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Manager spoke about her community’s successful experiences in planning to revitalize its downtown and to integrate district energy. Mandi Roberts, principal with Otak, served as the moderator for the forum.

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August 18, 2011

Last month incoming 9th graders visited Otak’s Lake Oswego office to learn more about the architecture and engineering industry. The kids were part of the Summer Youth Connect program, a four-year series of interventions for targeted high school students supported by Mayor Sam Adams. The “Ninth Grade Counts” program “connects students with the academic support and life experiences to start high school on the right track.” At Otak, students were given brief presentations by surveyors, architects, planners, landscape architects and engineers and then students were given the opportunity to ask questions. Later in the morning, Otak professionals led small groups through the design process to design their dream school. “The kids were given constraints, not unlike those in real world situations,” said Ron Dean, Otak architect. “They had to consider context, natural obstacles, codes, programs and economics.

     

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August 9, 2011

Otak International recently hired Rachel O’Dwyer Flynn as the Director of Planning. Rachel brings over 25 years of experience as an architect, urban planner, project manager and department director in the public and private sectors. Her expertise in community development includes urban planning, neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation, zoning and land use administration, transportation planning, HUD grant administration, affordable housing, stormwater management, environmental review/inspections, building code review/enforcement, and construction administration. Rachel’s expertise also includes architectural design and project management in academic, medical, commercial and residential building types. She has worked on a wide range of urban planning and architectural projects, including master plans in the state of Virginia, hospitals, medical centers/offices, university campuses/structures, commercial, and residential buildings. Prior to joining Otak, Rachel held the position of Director Planning and Development for the City of Richmond, Virginia, Director of Community Development for the City of Lynchburg, Virginia and Senior Associate Architect for Cannon Design in various east coast offices.   

 

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June 17, 2011

Joe Dills, AICP, Otak principal, was recently recognized by the American Planning Association for 30 years of contributions to the planning profession. Joe is considered one of Oregon’s leading practitioners of integrated land use and transportation planning. He specializes in land use planning, public involvement, transportation and growth management, and land use regulations and sustainable communities. Starting with ODOT’s first pilot Transportation and Growth Management (TGM) project in 1993 (the Northwest Newberg Specific Plan), Joe has been the lead planner in more than 50 TGM program projects, ranging from transportation system plans to smart growth master plans to codes. Recently, he worked on several landmark projects in the United Arab Emirates, including the Khalifa B City Master Plan, the overall Development Regulations Framework for the Abu Dhabi Metro Area, and plans for six sustainable settlements in Al Gharbia.

Throughout his career, Joe has worked with community groups ranging from local neighborhood associations to state agency advisory councils. His core philosophy is that consensus and trust are built through a careful communications process that involves citizens at every step.

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May 31, 2011

Kate Schwarzler and Chris Brandt from Otak’s Carbondale office attended the 31st Annual National Association Recreation Resource Planners Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado. The theme of this year’s conference was “Innovations in Connecting Americans to our Great Outdoors” and sessions explored how to connect citizens to the outdoors to improve public health, reinvigorate local economies, and instill a new generation of land stewards prepared to address some of the key issues we face. The conference theme is also a central component of President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which was initiated to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to their outdoor heritage. Outdoor recreation leaders participated in the conference where they explored and shared the latest innovations, efforts and successes in the area of connecting Americans to the great outdoors. Otak had a booth, as well as presented a poster paper on “The Use of Color and Camouflage to Mitigate Visual Impacts.”

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May 4, 2011

A few Otakians participated in Pub Trivia at Players last night for a team building event...

With the opening pitch, Martin hit it out of the park for a "parfait" answer (French word for a type of ice cream that translates to perfect)! Rainman Kilby pulled a "tornado" out of thin air to whirl the team into second place at the half. Unfortunately, we crashed and burned with our lack of knowledge in NASCAR racing, and apparently need to ask for forgiveness for our lack of knowledge in religious studies. But, in true Vegas style, we went all in (gotta go big or stay home) and wagered the maximum points to correctly answer a five-part final bonus question with our resident lushes (DH, Leslie, and Kaitlin); who knew Dan Aykroyd's signature drink includes vodka, Dr. Dre's is congnac, and Danny DeVito's is a Limoncello?!?! With our trivia skills and beginners luck, we were able to pull it out in the clutch for the victory!

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