November 27, 2013

Otakians in Tempe donned 3D glasses for a Lunch and Learn presented by architect Don Larry. Don showed 3D images of his recent travels in Italy and New York, as well as images of Otak's Jade Bar and Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge projects, Revit models converted into 3D anaglyphic images floating in space, and superheroes from 3D vintage comics.

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   November 25, 2013

The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services added an interesting video about the opening of Otak’s Foster Floodplain Natural Area project. In an e-newsletter about the project, City of Portland Commissioner Nick Fish wrote:

“This is one of the many ways we are using cost-effective natural solutions to manage stormwater. The additional community dividend: a treasured place for East Portland families to relax, walk the trail, and watch wildlife.”

To learn more about Otak’s involvement in the Foster Floodplain Natural Area, please click here.

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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 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 8, 2013

Eight Otakians headed down to White Center (near West Seattle) on October 5th to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity on a home maintenance project. The homeowner had been living in her house for 20 years and received support from Habitat to complete some big repairs. Our main tasks were building a staircase up to the front door, constructing a new back deck, replacing some siding, sealing windows, and laying pavers in the garden area. And what a treat we had at lunchtime, when the homeowner brought out her delicious Cambodian dishes for all to enjoy! 

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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 6, 2013

We hope you enjoyed Halloween last week! Otakians donned costumes and gathered in our different office locations for food and fun.


The Vancouver office enjoyed a Halloween Potluck in spite of a mad rush to meet a submittal deadline. Participating Otakians dressed up in costumes related to the dishes they brought to the potluck. Cory Kratovil dressed as the office redneck who brought what he called "roadkill stew." It actually turned out to be a great beef stew. Theo Malone dressed in green to match the broccoli salad he brought, and Greg Mines showed up as a cafeteria lady.


The Kirkland office hosted a Halloween lunch potluck last Thursday, complete with Scream pie, ghostly cupcakes, bloody deviled eggs, and several types of tasty chili. They also hosted a costume contest, and the winners were: Curtis LaPierre as Mr. Clean for funniest costume, Xiao Wu as #Obamacare for most news/blogworthy, and Gabe Orendorff as a Seattle Mariner for best sports costume! Each took home a gift basket of chocolates, wine donated by the principals, and other goodies. It was a spooky good time!


The Portland office celebrated with donuts and apple cider in the bistro and a few staff members donning costumes including a flapper, a cat, a cowgirl, Pancho Villa, and two water resources engineers dressing up as their fellow Otakian, Quinn Donnelly.

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   November 5, 2013

Otak was an exhibitor at this year's APWA Oregon Fall Conference located in Bend. Engineers Joe Primeau, Ashley Cantlon, Kevin Timmins, and Gary Alfson represented Otak at our booth, in technical sessions, and in extracurricular activities. Joe organized and ran the First-Timers program for first-time conference attendees, Ashley chaired the Water Resource Committee Meeting, and Kevin gave a one-hour technical presentation titled "Introduction to the Envision Rating System". The conference was a great opportunity for Otak to remind various agencies of our ability and desire to assist them with their projects. We look forward to the next APWA conference!

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   November 4, 2013

Otak is pleased to welcome four new hires!

Sandrine Ganry, PE, is a civil engineer working with the water resources group in our Portland, Oregon, office. She brings 11 years of experience in civil engineering design, primarily in public works projects. She has extensive experience in the preparation of construction plans, bid documents, construction cost estimates, and construction management. Sandrine earned her Master of Civil Engineering in Water Resources from the University of Montpellier in Montpellier, France, and she is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Tom Green, PE, is a civil engineer working out of our office in Tempe, Arizona. He brings eight years of experience working as an engineer in both the public and private sectors. He has managed project teams to develop civil improvement plans for commercial and residential projects and engineered subdivisions of master-planned communities. Tom earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Arizona State University.

Kelly Youngberg, EIT, is a water resources engineering designer working out of our office in Vancouver, Washington. She is experienced withdesign, analysis, and construction management. Kelly is skilled in hydraulic and hydrologic modeling and the analysis of stormwater systems. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Portland.

Lara Holimon has joined Otak as a GIS Intern working out of our office in Denver, Colorado. She has experience working as a GIS analyst for the University of Florida and as a CAD operator for a private architecture firm. Lara earned her Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning and her Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Sociology from the University of Florida. She is a member of GIS Colorado.

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   November 4, 2013

Otak participated in this year’s EcoChallenge! The EcoChallenge, organized by the Northwest Earth Institute, encourages participants to change one habit for the Earth from October 15-30. 166 teams signed up, and 18 Otakians joined our company-wide team. Some of the challenges taken on by Otakians included using reusable bags, eating a strictly plant-based diet, biking to the store, purchasing locally sourced organic food, and replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs. Otak has taken part in the EcoChallenge in previous years, and we always look forward to this event, which draws attention to our impact on the environment.

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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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