Blog
After Hours
October 27, 2017

When entering or exiting the elevators at our Portland office, visitors and employees alike might find themselves caught off guard by a mysterious new guest. Prominently displayed near the front desk (at least for the time being, if we can find another place to put it), this odd-looking contraption has a name: Gizmo.

Just what is the Gizmo? In short, according to APWA, it’s “an award most people are willing to pay to not receive.” At the recent APWA Oregon Fall Conference, Otak’s own Ashley Cantlon was the “lucky” recipient of the “coveted” award, and became a part of this decades-old tradition. She had come close many times in the past, but it seems this was the year. However, over $7,000 was donated to the APWA Scholastic Foundation’s Kurt Corey Scholarship Fund in order for Ashley to earn Gizmo. 

This is Gizmo’s first appearance in our Portland office, but it has been with Otak before: the most recent Otakian to receive Gizmo was Gregg Weston at the 2004 Spring Conference. Gizmo will be a part of our office until the APWA Spring Conference, where, after being adorned with a new Otak-inspired embellishment, it will be awarded to another “honored” recipient.

Ashley is reluctantly honored to have received Gizmo, and she has already sensed some tension about it. As she puts it, “We have both Beavers and Ducks in our office. I think it’s already starting to stress out people who don’t like OSU...”

To read more about the Gizmo and see a list of past recipients, click here.

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October 20, 2017

Otak sponsored and attended the Architectural Foundation of Oregon’s annual Honored Citizen Dinner. This year’s dinner honored Donald J. Stastny, who worked side by side with Otak on architecture work at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

As part of the festivities, Otak sponsored a Giant Jenga competition as a fundraiser which was a big hit! 

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September 27, 2017

On September 23, Otak’s Portland office held their company picnic at Willamette Park. Both the weather and the location were perfect, complete with food carts from Bunk and Koi Fusion, a covered picnic area, a playground, and space for the Otak Olympics. The Willamette River was smooth as glass, perfect for kayaking or canoeing. Many laughs were shared, and the Vantucky T-Wolves took home the gold.

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September 21, 2017

Otak's Portland stormwater engineers attended the 2017 Sustainable Stormwater Symposium on September 13th and 14th at OMSI. Otak was a platinum sponsor for the event, which was co-hosted by the Environmental Water Resources Group and the American Public Works Association. Symposium presentations included keynotes by the U.S. Geological Survey, Denver's Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Otak's Melanie Klym presented on a project which used channel restoration to address flow-duration design standards. A presentation by the City of Gresham highlighted Teresa Huntsinger’s work with the City to develop a stormwater retrofit assessment tool.

The Symposium included a half-day bike tour around Southeast and Southwest Portland to visit stormwater facilities and hear from those involved in their design, construction, and maintenance. Several Otakians served as bike tour leaders. Matt Klym, an engineer on Otak's Transportation and Infrastructure Systems team, presented at the fourth bike tour stop, giving an overview of the OHSU Collaborative Life Sciences Building (LEED Platinum) site design and stormwater management. We are already looking forward to the next Symposium in 2019!

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September 19, 2017

On September 16th, Vancouver Otakians held their first annual summer BBQ at Allen Hendy’s house. Allen’s garden provided a beautiful backdrop for the festivities, which included games of horseshoes, corn hole, and ladder ball. The group enjoyed dinner, provided by Hula Boys, a local restaurant, and provided some potluck items as well. Honorary four-legged Otakians, River (pictured) and Nala (not-pictured), joined in the fun. River even scored some points at corn hole, ironically for her owner’s opponent.


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September 14, 2017

The Portland Westside Economic Alliance (WEA) and the Westside Transportation Alliance (WTA) held a joint meeting September 13, 2017 to discuss multi-modal transportation challenges, progress to-date, and future vision. 

A panel made up of TriMet's Tom Mills, Jeannine Rustad of the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Department (THPRD), David Evans & Associates' Andrew Mortenson, Intel's Nathan Derstine, and Washington County's Dyami Valentine discussed studies and plans their organizations are making to help connect people to jobs.

Adam Argo of David Evans and Associates moderated the panel.

Jeannine Rustad spoke about trails and the partnerships built to complete different trail segments. Tom Mills shared information about transit funding through the upcoming employee paid payroll tax and how the agency is looking to enhance service. Dyami Valentine presented takeaways from the recent Washington County Transportation Futures Study.

In addition to sponsoring the WEA-WTA meeting, Otak will be sponsoring WEA’s "Transportation Month” involving numerous meetings and conferences in the month of September to further transportation system excellence development over time in Portland and the northwest. 

Pictured, from left to right: Brian Burby (Otak), Tom Mills (TriMet), Jeannine Rustad (THPRD), Nathan Derstine (Intel), Andrew Mortensen and Adam Argo (David Evans & Associates), Dyami Valentine (Washington County)

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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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August 15, 2017

Otak participated in the ninth annual Kickball Without Borders fundraiser on Saturday, August 12th. Shark Otak went only 1-2 on the field but won big in the raffle, with several team members winning prizes, including the grand prize!

The event was hosted by the Portland chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The funds generated by this event will be used for projects in Haiti, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Portland.

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August 3, 2017

On July 28th, a few Otakians hit the links for the 31st annual Western Economic Alliance (WEA) Golf Scramble. Otak’s foursome, including Don Hanson, Adrian Esteban, Ian Machan, and joined by Columbia County’s Chuck Daughtry, finished ninth overall! The theme for this year’s tournament was “Full STEAM Ahead” in support of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Otak was a proud event sponsor, and provided ice cream at Hole #10 to help keep the golfers cool in the hot conditions. The Golf Scramble is the only annual fundraiser for the WEA and helps raise approximately 10 percent of the organization’s budget. 

From Left to Right: Chuck Daughtry, Columbia County; Don Hanson, Ian Machan, Adrian Esteban, Otak

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July 6, 2017

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

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

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July 5, 2017

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

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

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

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June 30, 2017

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

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

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June 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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May 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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April 27, 2017

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

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April 19, 2017

Students on a site visit.

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

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

Jesse presenting at the conference.

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

The community.

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April 5, 2017

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

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

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March 27, 2017

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

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

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

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March 1, 2017

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

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

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

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February 22, 2017

On Saturday, February 18, Doug Beyerlein, senior hydrologist in Otak’s Everett office, ran the USA Track & Field (USATF) 50K Trail Championships on the trails in the Sierra foothills near Auburn, California. Doug won his age group with a time of 7 hours, 19 minutes. This is his second national championship, having previously won his age group at the USATF Trail Half Marathon Championships in October, 2016.

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February 2, 2017

After a couple of really busy weeks, some of the Otak crew went to cheer on the Winterhawks as they battled the Kamloops Blazers. The game was scoreless in the first period, but the Hawks pulled off a 4-2 win in the end. There was another reason to celebrate, though: The Otakians were sitting in the winning row, and they all got some great hockey swag, including hats. Plus, we were featured on the big screen during a special announcement. One of the highlights of the night was Kyle’s 2 year old son Killian cheering “Go Hockey!!” And he was right; it was definitely a good night for hockey.

 

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January 20, 2017

 

Otak was well represented at the annual ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards banquet on Wednesday evening (January 18th) at the Multnomah Athletic Club in downtown Portland. In attendance were members of Otak’s staff, the City of Lake Oswego, and Clark Regional Wastewater District, all of whom were there to support two projects that had been submitted for awards.

 

The Rockinghorse Lane Drainage Improvements and Landslide Stabilization project was submitted by Otak’s Portland office as the prime consultant selected to work with the City of Lake Oswego to repair a highly degraded drainage outfall and adjacent landslide. ACEC honored us with the Small Project Award for our efforts. The project required a careful balance of environmental permitting, thoughtful civil and water resource engineering design, and geotechnical consultation. Ultimately, the project installed approximately 300 feet of fused HDPE pipe to convey stormwater through the steepest topography, created 250 feet of open channel, repaired the State Park’s trail crossing, and constructed a large shear key to buttress the slide that included 1,500 tons of stone embankment.

 

The Tenny Creek Slide Emergency Repair project was submitted by Otak’s Vancouver office, and included stabilizing and repairing the broken sewer line, moving the creek laterally and reconstructing the slide area, providing a streambed design that met fish passage requirements, and restoring the area with upland plantings as it is in a habitat buffer area.  We were given an Honor Award for our this project.

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November 30, 2016

Doug Beyerlein, Otak senior hydrologist, ran the Seattle Marathon on Sunday, November 27. This was his 11th Seattle Marathon and 114th marathon overall. Doug finished in a time of 3 hours, 43 minutes and placed 348th overall (1,498 finishers) while winning his age division.

Following the race Doug was in good spirits, but said that he was very tired.

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October 4, 2016

Kevin Timmins rode the new US20: Pioneer Mountain to Eddyville alignment on Saturday as part of the Play on the Grade event. He checked out the drainage the Otak team designed and walked through the new elk culvert.

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September 1, 2016

Otakians Tammi Connolly, Matt Klym, Gary Wolff and Melanie McCandless helped to clean up Johnson Creek on August 29th.

105 volunteers worked in the creek to remove 269 bags of trash and lots of larger items that didn't fit into bags. By removing trash, water quality and habitat conditions improve for the wildlife including Steelhead and Chinook salmon that call the creek home. The clean-up extended from the creek’s confluence with the Willamette River up through I-205 in Portland.

After the clean-up volunteers enjoyed a barbecue and awards ceremony at Mill Park where the Golden Garbage Can award for strangest item found was given to team captain Paul for the child’s pegasus costume. Runners-up included a bowling ball on a chain, a slingshot, and complete apartment furnishings (desk, chair, toilet, bed, and countertop stove).


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August 26, 2016

Thirteen Otakians came out to participate in the eighth annual Kickball Without Borders kickball tournament fundraiser on Saturday, August 20th at Glen Haven Park in Portland. Team “Shark Otak” had an undefeated morning but just missed the point spread for the final game. Otak joined 22 other local A&E firms for a sunny day of kickball, a great barbeque, and a raffle to raise money for the Portland Chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

The fundraiser was the organization’s largest yet, raising $20,500 for their projects in Haiti, Ecuador, Honduras, and Tanzania.

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August 15, 2016

Otak’s summer celebration at Punch Bowl Social brought our local team together for an afternoon of food, drinks, and fun! Ping pong and bowling brought out the competitive spirit, while our in-house talent rocked the karaoke room. Whether socializing inside or enjoying the sun on the patio, staff kept cool with root beer floats, chocolate shakes, and local microbrews and snacks.

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August 15, 2016

After the summer party at the Punch Bowl, this cheerful group of Otakians made their way to Providence Park and saw Portland Timbers win their Champions League match against Salvadorian Club Deportivo Dragón. The final score was  2-1 on a 90th minute goal. #TeamBuilding

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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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May 20, 2016

“Otakians Tim Ervin, Trista Kobluskie, and Melanie McCandless braved the rain for the East Portland Sunday Parkways on May 15. The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services invited Otak along with several other community partners to have booths at the Foster Floodplain Natural Area to provide environmental education opportunities. Otak’s booth featured a stream simulation table which demonstrates how rivers respond to common engineering practices such as large wood structures and boulders. Many participants, especially children, built dams across the river and the flow rate through the table was increased to show the effects of flooding and dam failure. People were able to make the connection to the Foster Floodplain Natural Area and the flood mitigation design, understanding that rivers need room to flood in ways that minimize property damage.” 

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May 19, 2016

On Saturday, May 14, several Otakians volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help construct homes at Allen Estates in Beaverton, Oregon.  The group assisted by hanging joists, adding decking, and putting up sheet rock.  

Several team members volunteered at this site before and enjoyed seeing how the project has progressed with recent completion of several of the homes.

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

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May 11, 2016

Last week at the annual Daily Journal of Commerce Top Projects awards banquet, Otak and Hamilton Construction were presented with an award!

In the category of Infrastructure, Otak was awarded Second Place for our Colorado Dam Safe Passage (now called Bend Whitewater Park) in Bend, Oregon. This project is a great example of Otak’s integrated design using our in-house planning, civil engineering and bridge design, environmental and specialty services.

Otak and Hamilton reserved a table at the banquet and were joined by our client’s Michelle Healy and Brian Hudspeth from Bend Parks and Recreation District, and two project subconsultants: John van Staveren from Pacific Habitat Services and Mike Faha from Greenworks. 

“Everyone enjoyed getting to reconnect at the table. There was a lot of laughter, reminiscing, catching up, etc.” said Nichole Hayward, of Hamilton Construction.

Our team’s design process brought together a diverse group of river stewards and stakeholders to successfully create habitat solutions while also creating the West Coast’s first “adjustable standing wave” white water kayak/surfing run. The Park is open and Bend Parks and Recreation has a live camera feed of the whitewater run on their website.

 

For project information click here

 

 

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May 10, 2016

Over the past few months, two members of Otak’s architecture team have participated in the residency program Architects in Schools, a program organized by the Architecture Foundation of Oregon. Amber Swanson and Nate Erwin volunteered at Rigler Elementary School in the Cully neighborhood of Portland. During their residency, they spent time with three third grade classes teaching students about architecture, urban design and the bridges of Portland. The students’ culminating activity was to construct models of the different bridges of Portland using the knowledge they learned throughout the residency. The model bridges are on display at the DOWA-IBI Group office located at 907 SW Stark St. until May 24th.

 

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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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March 23, 2016

Otak staff got together with longtime teaming consultant Kittelson & Associates, Inc. to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness basketball. Kittelson planned the event at their Portland office with food, drinks and games. While a basketball game played on the big screen, the two firms socialized. Don Hansen and Mike Peebles from Otak shared stories about working with Kittelson from the beginning (1981.) It was a great chance for our firms to get together, reflecting on all that we’ve done together and looking forward to the future. 

 

“ We really enjoyed spending an afternoon together better getting to know your staff, enjoying some social time, and learning a bit of history between the firms” Diego Arguea, Kittelson & Associates, Inc.

 

Thank you to Kittelson for hosting a fun and engaging get together!

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March 15, 2016

Volunteering at Johnson Creek Watershed Council's Watershed-Wide Event


Watershed Wide is an epic day of volunteerism coordinated by Johnson Creek Watershed Council and partners: Portland Parks and Recreation, City of Gresham, Friends of Trees, Friends of Tideman Johnson, and the Crystal Springs Partnership. This community event brings together hundreds of Johnson Creek supporters at ten different work sites that span the entire length of the watershed.  

Five Otakians joined nearly three hundred volunteers on March 5th to restore the health of the Johnson Creek Watershed. Riparian conditions were improved by planting over five thousand native plants across the ten sites. Emily Leete, Morgan Haines, and Ami Cobb joined Melanie McCandless at a site near the Foster Floodplain Natural Area (formerly known as the East Lents Floodplain Restoration Project). Michael Rafferty provided needed maintenance on native plantings at the Westmoreland Park in a restored area of the Crystal Springs floodplain.

A big thank you to event sponsor Clackamas Water Environment Services!

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February 9, 2016

The 8th Annual Beaverton Mayor's Ball was a great evening of socializing, dining, dancing, and bidding! Otak was a corporate sponsor at this year's fundraising event which has three local beneficiaries: The Beaverton Arts and Culture Foundation, the Beaverton Civic Theater, and HomePlate, an organization which helps at-risk and homeless youth. The main event was a live auction, where the auctioneer had the entire room on the edge of their seats and generously giving to these outstanding causes. Otak continues to do great work with the City of Beaverton and was pleased to be a part of such an exciting and admirable event.

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September 15, 2015

Otak’s Tempe Office participated in a volunteer effort for Habitat for Humanity, Central Arizona at their ReStore facility in Mesa, Arizona. Habitat’s ReStore operates through the sale of new and gently-used furniture, home goods and building materials. ReStore receives all goods for their five Phoenix Metro-Valley stores through donations from various establishments, corporations and individuals. All proceeds, after operating costs, go directly back to Habitat for Humanity, Central Arizona. 

Our team provided tasks that included stocking newly inventoried items, furniture assembly and general store clean-up. We are looking forward to participating in similar events in the future!

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September 4, 2015

The Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers went head to head at Century Link Field on Sunday, August 30th. Several Otak employees from the Portland office drove to Seattle to join Redmond employees for some friendly rivalry.

The soccer action started with a goal in the 6th minute by Seattle’s Obafemi Martins, who took advantage of Portland’s failure to clear the ball out of the goal box. Portland had the majority of the possession in the first half, with several shots on goal, including a break away by new Portland player Lucas Melano, all of which were stopped by Seattle keeper Stefan Frei. Just before halftime, Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was called for a questionable foul in the box on Martins, leading to a penalty kick which Brad Evans converted to a 2-0 lead.

Portland’s Diego Valeri connected on a corner kick with defender Jack Jewsbury to pull back a goal in the 58th minute. Portland continued to attack throughout the second half, but could not find the back of the net and the game ended with a 2-1 victory for Seattle.

Fun was had by all!

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September 2, 2015

Otak's Josh Owens tests the Colorado Dam Paddle Trail project.

 

Two breweries have released a special beer with the proceeds being donated to help fund the Bend Whitewater Park project that Otak designed and is nearing the end of construction.

To read the press release, click here.

For more information about the beer, click here.

 

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August 21, 2015

Two breweries have released a special beer with the proceeds being donated to help fund the Bend Whitewater Park project that Otak designed and is nearing the end of construction.

 

To read the article click here

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August 17, 2015

Otak’s Portland staff celebrated the summer last week at Punch Bowl Social! We enjoyed complimentary food and drinks while playing darts, ping pong, Skee ball, and bowling. The real highlight came when a few of our talented singers took over the karaoke machine and rocked the mic. We can’t wait for the next performance from our musically talented – and musically well-intentioned – staff!

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August 14, 2015

Congratulations to Otak’s Underdog Sports League Kickball Team on winning the Kickball Championship! Otak won the Underdog Sports League Volleyball Championship earlier this year, so this is our second Underdog Sports League Championship in 2015 so far.  Let’s hope our winning streak continues!

 

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June 15, 2015

We are proud to announce that Otak Attack, our Portland office’s co-ed volleyball team, won the Underdog Sports Softcore Spring League Championship! In addition to winning the championship, the league recognized several members of Otak Attack as “Player of the Week” over the course of the season. Congratulations, Otak Attack, and good luck defending your title next year!

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May 6, 2015

Otak will be hosting a Young Architects Forum at our Portland office tomorrow, May 7, from 5:30-7:30. Come enjoy food and drinks while meeting with your peers in the industry!

Our office is located on SW Third and Yamhill at 808 SW Third Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97204.

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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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April 28, 2015

Otak’s Amber Swanson and Ben Bortolazzo delivered a presentation at the AIA Portland’s Fast ForWARD event last week. Organized by the AIA Portland’s Forum for Women in Architecture and Related Design (ForWARD), presenters delivered pecha kucha presentations – 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each – on the theme of “Getting From Point A to Point B: From public transit to grand stairways to innovation – How design can compel people to move forward.”

Amber and Ben spoke about Otak’s Southwest Corridor Connector project, which involved moving pedestrians and cyclists to and from future rapid transit stops along SW Barbur and/or SW Naito to the Lair/Marquam Hill area. After studying the site’s history and meeting with stakeholders and the general public, Otak created two concepts that take advantage of the picturesque forest hillside and incorporate scenic views of the river and the city.

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April 16, 2015

Otak's Ben Bortolazzo and Ron Dean will present a Pecha Kucha presentation on Otak's Southwest Corridor Connector project on Tuesday, April 21, at 6pm at AIA Portland on 403 NW 11th Ave. in Portland. The event is free and light refreshments will be provided. Come check it out!

For more information about AIA Portland, please click here.

 

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April 1, 2015

The Oregon Chapter of APWA held their Spring Conference at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. Otak usually hosts a booth at each APWA conference where we display photos of our recent and local projects, but due to the increasing popularity of the conference and the smaller event space this year, the exhibit spaces were full by the time Otak signed up! In lieu of a booth, Otak joined two other firms that did not receive booths to host a pizza and game evening where attendees could team up and heckle each other over a fun game of miniature golf. Otak maintains involvement in APWA through conference attendance, as well as participation in subcommittees such as Sustainability, Water Resources, and the Young Professionals Network.

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January 28, 2015

Otak recently won an ACEC Oregon Engineering Excellence Honor Award for the West Main Realignment project in Kelso, Washington! Awards were announced at the ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards Dinner last week at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

We are very proud of the West Main Realignment project, which realigned eight blocks of West Main Street through the business district of West Kelso to make a smooth connection and reduce congestion between SR 4 and the Allen Street Bridge. This project improved safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, and stimulated community revitalization in the West Kelso area.

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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 29, 2014

Otakians from our Portland, Vancouver, and Gearhart offices gathered at the Treasury Ballroom in downtown Portland recently to celebrate the holidays. Guests arrived in ugly holiday sweaters or semi-formal attire and enjoyed dinner, dessert, drinks, and dancing. A few special Otakians received awards, including the Otakian who logged the most hours in 2014 (Bob Hawes), longest-serving Otakian (Jack Carlson), and the person who travelled the longest distance to join Otak this year (Jim Hamann, our President and CEO who moved to Portland from Thailand.) Rachel Laura also received an award for selling her first painting this year. As an integrated design firm, our different disciplines often collaborate on projects, but this party provided a nice opportunity for Otakians from different disciplines to get to know each other outside of the office. 2014 has been an exciting and prosperous year for Otak, and we’re looking forward to an exciting and prosperous 2015!

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October 10, 2014

Last weekend, a group of volunteers transformed four blocks of Third Avenue in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown district into a “pop-up plaza” by reclaiming 1,000 linear feet of roadway as pedestrian space and a protected bike lane. The project was the latest, and largest, project undertaken by Better Block PDX, a group that aims to “create inviting and interactive places that challenge the notion that streets are only for cars.”

For three days, space normally reserved for parking and driving was filled with pedestrians, attracted by ping pong tables, outdoor seating, vendors, musicians, and space for painting and art. Local community associations and businesses initiated the project, and restaurants and cafes moved seating into the expanded pedestrian space. Although the project was temporary, supporters see it as a first step towards a permanent solution for a safer and more appealing Old/Town Chinatown.

The pop-up plaza took place a few blocks north of Otak’s corporate office, and we were proud to sponsor the demonstration project. In addition to financial support, Otak’s Ron Dean, Ben Bortolazzo, Nick Tahran, and Martin Glastra van Loon (and his son, Max), helped with setup and take down responsibilities. Otak believes in creating unique and engaging people places as catalysts for urban revitalization, and this project successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of “place-making”.
 
We look forward to our future involvement in transforming Old Town/Chinatown, as well as future participation in Better Block PDX events!

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August 21, 2014

Earlier this month, Greg Laird (Otak Principal and Water Resource Engineer) hosted the Kirkland, Washington, office picnic at his house and farm. The weather was beautiful, and Greg and his wife, Cathy, provided lots of fun for kids and adults of all ages. Events included horseback riding, a trampoline, badminton, horseshoes, ATV and golf carts, and feeding the horses, donkeys, and goats. Not only do the animals like carrots, but it turns out they love crunching on peppermint candies!

The various groups within Otak designed creative games such as walking through a lawn maze while blindfolded and directed by a team member, completing  three separate oversized jigsaw puzzles, and throwing objects into a wheelbarrow and then placing a team member in the wheelbarrow and rolling on uneven ground all while the participants’ ankles are tied together! Otakians also threw a water balloon...or 20.

Everyone enjoyed the delicious food and drinks! We thank Greg and Cathy for the fun-filled day!

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August 20, 2014

Several Otakians from our Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, offices participated in the sixth annual Kickball Without Borders kickball tournament fundraiser on August 9 in Portland. Each year several engineering and architecture firms organize teams for the competition, and all proceeds go towards supporting the Portland chapter of Engineers Without Borders and their humanitarian work in developing countries. This year, Otak’s team, Shark Otak, took first place and earned the coveted title Kickball Without Borders Champion! It was a fantastic fun-filled day in the sun, and we look forward to defending our title next year!

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June 23, 2014

Otak’s Tonya Finley, CFCM, Senior Associate, has been elected to the ACEC Oregon Board of Directors! She is one of two women currently serving on the board, and she is the first non-technical woman to be elected to the position. Tonya is Otak’s Risk Manager/Contracts Administrator and has been active in ACEC since 2003. She is currently the co-chair of the ACEC Oregon Risk Management committee and recently rotated off as an elected ACEC ODOT Liaison Steering Committee member. In addition, she participates in the ODOT Liaison Committee, is past chair and current participant of the ODOT Liaison Procurement Committee and DBE Subcommittee. Earlier this month, Tonya and other members of the ACEC Oregon Board of Directors met with Governor John Kitzhaber to discuss public investment in infrastructure, qualifications-based selection, and other key business issues affecting professional engineers.

Tonya is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University. She is an active member of the National Contract Management Association and has been with Otak for over 18 years.

Congratulations, Tonya!

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June 4, 2014

AIA Portland organized an Open Ideas Competition called STITCH, soliciting creative ideas to reclaim a site over the I-405 freeway with the objective of  stitching together downtown Portland to Goose Hollow and the Stadium District. The jury, including Otak’s Martin Glastra van Loon, selected three inspiring winners out of 40 received submissions, and AIA Portland is compiling the shortlisted entries into a book to give to the City of Portland and other local agencies. AIA Portland hosted an event last month to announce the winners, and you may view the winning entries here.

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June 2, 2014

Otakians Tim Kraft, Liz Gilliam, Gary Wolff, and Melanie McCandless joined others in celebrating Johnson Creek on May 22 at Reed College. Approximately 180 attendees were present for the raffle, State of the Watershed report, Riffle Awards presentations, and guest speaker Dr. Colin Thorne. Dr. Thorne spoke about the values of blue-green infrastructure in the United States and the United Kingdom and highlighted the importance of Johnson Creek in the region. Otak designed the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services’ East Lents Floodplain Project (now the Foster Floodplain Natural Area), which plays an integral role in flood risk management in the watershed. Melanie McCandless currently serves as the Treasurer on the Council’s Board of Directors.

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May 23, 2014

A few Otak staff members had the opportunity to attend the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) annual conference in mid-May in downtown Portland, Oregon, at the Hilton. The conference theme was The Power of Connection: Mobility, Community, and Innovation. The sessions focused on the conference theme of transportation connections, building community, and innovative mobility options. We had the opportunity to hear a three-time Emmy award winner and journalist, Cokie Roberts, speak at a luncheon and general session. She was an articulate and eloquent presenter who is a pioneer in her field!

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April 17, 2014

Last Sunday, Otakians Jennifer Snider, Sarah McCloskey, Sami Auclair, Ae-young Lee, and Jason Karam donned sneakers and running gear to participate in Albertina Kerr’s Race for the Roses. The proceeds for this event benefit Albertina Kerr, a local nonprofit that helps children, adults, and families living with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. It was a great way to enjoy a beautiful, sunny day in Portland while contributing to a wonderful organization.

To learn more about Albertina Kerr, please click here.

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January 20, 2014

Otak’s East Lents Floodplain Restoration project won a 2014 ACEC Oregon Engineering Excellence Grand Award!

The ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards recognize engineering firms for projects that demonstrate a high degree of innovation, achievement, and value, and winners were announced last week at ACEC Oregon’s Engineering Excellence Awards Dinner. The Grand Award was given to six of the 20 submitted projects.

To learn more about the award-winning East Lents Floodplain Restoration, please click here.

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December 18, 2013

Otak’s Denver office, in conjunction with our neighbors YR&G, hosted a Holiday Party on Thursday, December 5. The celebration was held in our offices located in the historic Fire House No. 5, which was built in 1926. Despite the frigid -10 degree temperature in Denver, we had a great turn out! Joining the festivities was Russ Gaston from the Otak’s office in Everett, Washington.

This month marks Otak’s one-year anniversary in our Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver location.

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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 25, 2013

Nine volunteers braved the cold winds to enhance a green street in Portland’s Lents neighborhood. Otakians Kelly Youngberg and Matt Klym joined fellow Otakian Melanie McCandless’ group, Green Lents, to add native plants to a previously weed-infested infiltration basin. The facilities were installed in 2006 as part of a street improvement project. The swale enhancement project has been in the works for over two years as Green Lents negotiated with Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services for permission to do the work – the first of its kind in Portland to retrofit existing facilities. After extensive canvassing to identify neighbor interest, three swales along SE Yukon Street were selected for the pilot project enhancement. The plants will improve water quality, enhance aesthetics, and support native pollinators. Two more swales will be planted in Spring 2014 and will kick off a pollinator monitoring study during the summer. 

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November 22, 2013

Otak's Kirkland office braved the cold last night for a very happy hour at the first ever Otak Turkey Bowl! We took up three lanes and played two and a half games before declaring Chris Ewing the big scorer of the night with a 184. The event, organized by the newly re-instated Fun Committee, allowed members of different groups (WNR, PAD, and TIS) to interact on a more personal and relaxed level. We all pooled our strike tickets and claimed some small plastic trucks and eyeballs as our grand prize! 

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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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October 29, 2013

Otak has been a financial supporter of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership (LCEP) for many years, and earlier this month, Otak sponsored a table for LCEP's annual art auction and gala. The event brought together individuals from the policy, public, and scientific communities and highlighted the important environmental and educational work that LCEP conducts throughout the year. Otak recognizes the importance of the Lower Columbia for our communities and our environment, and we are delighted to support LCEP's efforts to protect and restore nature and clean water for future generations of fish, wildlife, and people.

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October 10, 2013

 

Last Saturday, Dr. Lauren Allsopp, Adjunct Instructor of Historic Preservation at the University of Oregon, brought a group of her students to Otak’s Portland office to discuss green preservation and relevant projects in the Portland area. Don Hanson, Otak’s Director of Planning and Design, led the discussion and focused on changes he has seen while serving on the Portland Planning Commission. Otak’s Derek Chisholm also shared his experience in green preservation projects, as well as research he’s performed on the topic. The students toured Otak’s office in the historic Director Building and visited case-study sites. We thank Dr. Allsopp and her students for stopping by!

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October 7, 2013

 

We are excited to host a Design Week Portland (DWP) Open House on Tuesday, October 8, from 4-7 pm at our corporate office on SW Third and Yamhill. The public is welcome to tour our architecture and design studio, view our work, and chat with our designers while enjoying snacks and beverages.

The DWP Open House is part of the Portland Design Festival, which is an annual city-wide celebration showcasing the full-spectrum of design disciplines. Otak is proud to be an event-level sponsor of this year's Festival, and we look forward to meeting you at our open house!

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October 2, 2013

 

On Monday, September 23, Otak hosted an open house at our Portland office. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, and Jordan Schnitzer from Harsch Investment Properties were featured guests along with over 200 clients, teaming partners, and friends and family spanning our 32-year history. Otak’s President and CEO, R. Nicholas Loope, FAIA, provided brief remarks about Otak’s new downtown location, as did Congressman Blumenauer and Mayor Hales. The event provided a wonderful opportunity for Otak staff to tell guests about our services and exciting projects while enjoying beverages and appetizers. We thank everyone who attended, sponsored, and worked at the event and helped make it a memorable evening!

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September 10, 2013

A few of Otak’s water resources engineers joined the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation to lead a tour of our East Lents Floodplain Restoration project - now known as the Foster Floodplain Natural Area.

To learn more about the tour and view the tour brochure, please click here.

To learn more about this project, please click here.

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September 10, 2013

Kurt Creager, Otak’s Director of Housing & Urban Development, has been invited to join the Istanbul Technical University’s Housing Research and Education Center (ITU HREC) Advisory Board by ITU HREC Director Dr. Meltem Baslo. Mr. Creager has a prior relationship with Dr. Yurdanur Dulgeroglu, Professor of Design at ITU and has collaborated as a peer reviewer on her housing policy and practice research. ITU is considered the world’s third oldest university dedicated to engineering, and it is one of the most prominent universities in Turkey.

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August 29, 2013

Otak’s very own kickball team—made up of current and past Otakians, as well as several of our spouses and friends—played its first game at Montavilla Park last night. We lost 3 to 4 and got a little wet, but we’re all looking forward to our next game nevertheless. Go Grasskickers!

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August 28, 2013

Water and Natural Resources staff Gary Wolff, Theo Malone, Tammi Connolly, and Melanie McCandless got dirty for a good cause last Saturday in the 6th Annual Johnson Creek Clean-Up.  Over 100 volunteers were in the creek to remove trash from I-205 to the confluence with the Willamette River. Theo jumped into the challenging reach downstream of SE 82nd Avenue, and Tammi helped wrestle debris into the trailer for disposal. Gary served as event photographer, and Melanie co-organized the event with Amy Lodholz of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council and Norbert Loske of the Overland Park Coalition.

Over the past six years volunteers have removed over 30 tons of trash from the creek. Fortunately, this year continued last year’s trend of decreased trash loads – Johnson Creek is getting cleaner each year. Volunteers removed debris in the morning and celebrated in Mill Park afterward with a BBQ and award ceremony. The team of volunteers that found the oddest item in the creek won the Golden Trashcan, and the Dirty Olympics recognized the top three dirtiest volunteers with the bronze, silver, and gold soap-on-a-rope.

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June 18, 2013

Otak’s Denver office hosted an open house/tailgate party earlier this month in LoDo. Attendees toured the new office, took in the view from the deck and enjoyed the festive atmosphere before the first pitch of the Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field, only a block away. It was a fun way to connect with our clients and colleagues and we thank everyone who attended!

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May 21, 2013

Otakians in Tempe recently went on a team office outing to an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game! They hopped on the light rail and headed to the ballpark where their hometown Diamondbacks beat the visiting Atlanta Braves. It was a good win for the Diamondbacks and a wonderful opportunity for Otakians in Tempe to spend some time together away from the office.

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May 7, 2013

As part of a team including Wildish Standard Paving Co., Pendelton Ready Mix and Knife River Prestress, Otak was nominated for the Bridge category in the 33rd Annual Excellence in Concrete Awards program for the US395: McKay Creek to Silvies Slough Design-Build project. Working with geotechnical and environmental subconsultants Shannon & Wilson and Mason, Bruce & Girard, Otak designed seven replacement bridges and one bridge rehabilitation, all of which used a variety of aggregate and concrete mixes for the girders, decks, bents, MSE walls, and paving. Aesthetics was considered at all sites, which included the nearby John Day Fossil Beds and a designated Wild and Scenic portion of the North Fork John Day River. The project will enable travelers and industry to use the project section of US395 in comfort and safety.

- Submitted by Ae-young Lee

 

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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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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 11, 2013

The 15th Annual Johnson Creek Watershed Council Watershed-Wide Event was held, as always, on the first Saturday in March. I helped lead the Stonebridge Apartments site with Stream Team Captains from SOLVE and Matt Klym from Otak. With the help of 50 cub scouts, boy scouts and their families, we planted 250 trees, mulched  and installed protective fencing around the trees and picked up 12 bags of garbage. After the event we enjoyed lunch at Wall Street Pizza in Gresham or Pietro’s Pizza in Milwaukie. Overall, 470 volunteers attended the event in 12 different locations. The group planted 8,950 native trees and shrubs, removed 20 cubic yards of invasive plants, picked up 50 bags of garbage and moved seven yards of mulch. 

 - Submitted by Melanie McCandless

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February 14, 2013

 The Oregon Youth Soccer Association Named Victor Prudhomme Volunteer of the Year

Congratulations Victor!

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January 28, 2013

Two Otak projects won 2013 Engineering Excellence Awards from the Washington Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) at their annual awards banquet!

In the category of Future Value to the Engineering Profession and Perception by the Public, Otak won a Gold Award for our Spring Creek Pedestrian Bridge in Winthrop, Washington. This bridge is a 385-foot clear-span cable-stay structure over the Methow River with elements designed to reflect the 18th Century steel construction in accordance with the historical context of the town.

Otak also won a Bronze Award for the SE Southworth Drive Curley Creek Bridge Replacement project for Kitsap County. This project involved the replacement of a 100-foot three-span cast-in-place concrete bridge that was built in 1929. The new structure, considered self-mitigating by the resource agencies, is a single, longer-span bridge that placed new piers outside the ordinary high water mark with widening of the channel to replicate historical conditions.

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January 22, 2013

 

Otak’s Melanie McCandless has recently been voted on to the Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s Board of Directors! Melanie is a Water Resources Engineering Designer in our Lake Oswego, Oregon, office, and she has been volunteering with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council extensively since moving to the area in 2008. Congratulations, Melanie!

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December 20, 2012

Last Thursday, Otakians in our Lake Oswego office donned their finest reindeer antlers, Santa hats and Christmas sweaters to celebrate the holidays. We gathered near our beautifully decorated tree for music, food and fun holiday activities including a white elephant gift exchange. One lucky Otakian took home a “Whistling Flying Saucer” while another received a VHS copy of Lord of the Dance. Otak generously donated tickets to upcoming Portland Winterhawks and Trail Blazers games to be raffled off to participants in the holiday festivities. Otakians could also earn raffle tickets by bringing cans of food for donation to the Oregon Food Bank, and the Lake Oswego group responded in a big way. By the end of the party, two large boxes were overflowing with canned food that will go towards eliminating hunger in Oregon this holiday season. The party provided a perfect way to relax and spend time together while helping the community.

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November 20, 2012

Otakians Mark Cole, Keith Bates, Neil Schaner and Darcey Miller recently volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. They participated in the remodel called Westway 3.5 in Federal Way, Washington. The work party installed insulation, built a fence, disassembled part of the carport, and replaced a whole roof in a day! In addition, some high school students also removed shrubs and dug a ditch for a water line. Good job team!

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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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September 12, 2012

The Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge has recently received three more prestigious awards!

Valley Forward recognized the bridge for an Environmental Excellence Award in the Buildings and Structures – Industrial and Public Works category. This award is given to distinguished projects that demonstrate a high level of environmental commitment and contribute to Salt River Valley’s overall sustainability. 120 entries were received in six categories, and Otak’s Brad Bielenberg will attend the awards banquet held on September 29 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Engineering News Record (ENR) chose the bridge as one of the Southwest’s Best Projects of 2012. ENR received 138 entries for projects located in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and an awards banquet will be held on November 27 at Renaissance Downtown Phoenix.

The National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) awarded the bridge a 2012 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award. One winner from each category will be chosen as an “Outstanding Project” at the Awards Ceremony on October 5 at the NCSEA 20th Annual Conference at the Hilton Frontenac in St. Louis, Missouri.

We feel fortunate that our hard work as part of the TY Lin team has resulted in a structure that has been well-received by both our peers and the general public.

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

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July 19, 2012

Otak architect Don Larry has been recognized as an Arizona CultureKeeper for his 25 years of research and documentation of early brass bands and their music during Arizona’s territorial period (1863-1912) both as a historian and brass musician. He is one of the 100 CultureKeepers honored in Arizona for the state’s 2012 Centennial celebration. A euphonium player since the age of 8, Don is the founder of the Territorial Brass, Arizona’s Official Historical Brass Band, which has produced two CD recordings. Don was invited by the Historic Brass Society to speak at their international symposium earlier this month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Part of the talk included a section about former NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and his boyhood days in 1890s Arizona Territory as the son of an Army bandmaster. Word got out about this portion of the talk, and Fiorello’s granddaughter, Dr. Katherine LaGuardia, contacted Don and asked to watch the presentation. Dr. LaGuardia and her husband attended the symposium as special guests, and Don had the honor of introducing them before an audience of over 150 historians and music academicians gathered from North and South America, Europe and Australia. Don’ presentation was well received, and we are proud to have an Arizona CultureKeeper working in our Tempe office!

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June 8, 2012

 

This year two design professionals from our Lake Oswego office lent their expertise to high school students in the Portland Metro area. Engineer Scott Shumaker, and landscape architect Kaitlin North, served as mentors with the ACE Mentor program of Oregon. This 12-week program is an engaging and informative way for high school students to learn about career possibilities in architecture, construction and engineering. Scott’s team of 12 students and six mentors was responsible for designing a bike shop on the east side of the Willamette River in Portland. “They brainstormed, proposed, argued, and compromised,” said Scott, “many of which happen during a real project!” Kaitlin’s team designed a visitor center and students created all kinds of drawings and plans from building sections and elevations to planting plans and even cost estimating! At the end of the program, the students presented their creations to a packed auditorium of teachers, parents and design professionals. This was Kaitlin’s first year volunteering with the ACE mentor program, but, according to her, it probably won’t be the last: “I will definitely volunteer to be an ACE mentor again because it was so rewarding to work with these incredibly talented students!”

 

 

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March 12, 2012

Dave Speck was one of the first people hired at Otak. “I always thought that Dave was too skinny and that he needed more meat on his bones and that he would never last,” said co-founder Greg Kurahashi. “I was wrong.” Dave worked as a land surveyor at the Lake Oswego office for over 30 years. Not only did he “last,” but he made a lasting impression on everyone who had the pleasure of working with him. “He has earned our trust, respect and admiration many times over,” said CEO and co-founder Nawzad Othman. “I have been lucky to have had him as an employee, and, even more, as a friend.” Dave retired on March 2nd, and his retirement is well-deserved. Jack Carlson, Otak’s Principal-in-Charge of Surveying and Mapping, had this to say about his coworker:

 
Dave was one of the constants that good companies must have in order to be successful. He was there every day and he anticipated what was needed. Clients knew that if Dave was on their job, no task or item would fall through the cracks. He never talked up or talked down to anyone. He was the consummate partner with everyone he worked with and for.

 
Friends and co-workers from throughout Dave’s time at Otak met at Gametime near the Lake Oswego office to celebrate his retirement and wish him well. Once again, we thank Dave for all he’s given Otak and wish him a long and joyful retirement!

 

 

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March 8, 2012

On March 1st the United Way of King County held its annual Spirit of Caring Celebration to honor the community’s most outstanding companies, most creative campaign coordinators, and most committed volunteers.


Otak’s United Way campaign team consisting of Curtis LaPierre, Tyler Christofferson, and Marissa Chargualaf, attended the event where they were nominated for a Spirit of Caring Award this year in the category of Campaign Coordinator of the Year. During our more than ten year history of participating in United Way, we ranked as one of the top firms for the amount of dollars pledged per employee among A&E firms in Puget Sound.


All of us at Otak thank the Kirkland team for serving their community and organizing Otak’s campaign—we are proud that they were considered for this award!

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January 16, 2012

This is our third consecutive year where several Otak staff volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank (OFB)! This year we were responsible for packaging elbow macaroni. We had an assembly line of workers who had one or several of the following tasks:

1. moving pasta from a very large container to a more manageable smaller container

2. scooping approximately 2 pounds of pasta into a plastic bag

3. weighing the bag and supplementing additional pasta or removing pasta to ensure the 2-pound limit

4. placing a twisty around the bag

5. placing 11 bags of pasta into a box and sealing the box

6. moving the box to another station where it was weighed to ensure accuracy

At the end of our session we helped box 10,500 pounds of macaroni for distribution! It was a rewarding few hours of our time.

 

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November 23, 2011

Last week Otak sent a team of ‘Intellectuals’ to WorldQuest for Grownups. This evening of international trivia supports The World Affairs Council of Oregon’s Global Classroom which educates Oregon kids about the world. Otak was one of the two sponsors for the event.

The ‘Intellectuals’ came to the event dressed to impress, sporting berets and a varied combination of tweed, sweaters, ties, blazers and corduroy. Eight trivia rounds of eight questions each - wildly ranging across various topics of world culture - provided the evening’s challenge. Questions ranged from geography and current events to world economics and ancient history.

Muddling through the tremendous pressure and responsibility connected to the chosen team name, the ‘intellectuals’ performance hit the mark, answering correctly 38 out of 64 questions, finishing only 2 questions out of third place.

Unfortunately there was not a ‘team attitude’ award for the evening, otherwise the Otak team would have clearly been the undisputed winner. Despite this minor setback, it was a great evening for a great cause, with auctions during the event raising more than $20K.

  

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November 9, 2011

Otak water resource engineers Tim Kraft and Kevin Timmins spent Saturday evening at the Portland Art Museum for the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership (LCEP) Dinner & Art Gala. They enjoyed an evening among friends and colleagues in support of LCEP Outdoor Education programs. No one at the table went home with any artwork, but the table successfully landed a bottle of Port wine during the Live Auction and quickly made it disappear. Otak contributed to the LCEP again this year with a sponsorship that will fund "Big Canoe" field trips for three classes and pays for their bus ride to and from the dock! This is the eighth year in a row that Otak has been a sponsor.

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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 16, 2011

What do Otakians do when the sun finally comes out? They play lots of kickball.

Last month, a few Otak employees formed a team, the Mulletteers, to compete in the charity tournament for Engineers Without Borders. After a full day of friendly competition, the Mulletteers placed second out of 15 teams, and more importantly, helped a great cause ($14,000 was raised).  

Last week, another Otak kickball team, the Grasskickers, won the championship! They secured a spot in the finals after playing a double header and winning both games. Congratulations!

 

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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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