Blog
   December 27, 2018


By Adam Tycaster

It’s the future. Throughout the Puget Sound region, light rail carries residents and commuters on their daily commute. The morning is brisk and unseasonably bright. You find yourself in Mountlake Terrace, walking down the station steps. What do you see?

On Tuesday, December 11, the City of Mountlake Terrace and Otak met with residents to answer that question, sharing initial design concepts for a new pedestrian plaza outside of its upcoming Sound Transit light rail station. The aptly named “Gateway Plaza” is intended not only to be visitors’ first impression of the city, but an entrance to Snohomish County itself.

“It gives an identity to the area,” said Curtis LaPierre, Otak’s senior landscape architect for the project. Already heavily travelled, the plaza will add “a nice place for pedestrians to sit, meet up, and even to stroll through.” Listen to Curtis talking about this exciting project.

The meeting was a success, according to LaPierre. He and Jeff Betz, City of Mountlake Terrace’s Recreation and Parks Director, spent more than an hour with residents, taking questions and receiving ideas around the three preliminary focal concepts: waterfall, lighted, and community tree.

LaPierre explained that the biggest challenge for residents at these kinds of meetings is getting away from the placement of individual objects—like trees and paved paths—and explaining what they want to experience. This wasn’t the case for the December 11th meeting. “There was good communication and they had lots of good and useful ideas.”

The next community meeting will take place in January. Residents are encouraged to attend and comment through the City’s project web page, where they can find more information, including illustrations of the proposed concepts.

Check out MLTnews detailed reporting of the meeting here.

Landscape Architecture | Puget Sound | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)
   December 18, 2018

Community | Corporate | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)
   December 6, 2018

Nathan Dasler and Ryan Makie perform a final construction walkthrough with county project manager Steve Johnson and environmental coordinator Trevin Taylor before winter storms return flows to the stream.


The salmon returned to the Hunter Point Road culvert after 100 years away, thanks to the investment of Thurston County, Washington, in rehabilitating the culvert and the stream. See for yourself here!

The culvert was in a deep ravine and had a large drop at the downstream end, which blocked fish passage. Thurston County received state grants for culvert replacements, and Hunter Point Road was their highest-priority fish passage project. The project involved a new bridge and complete stream reconstruction, which was completed in fall 2018. Complications included high road embankments, a single access road (dead end), a stream confluence immediately upstream of the crossing, and the need to provide habitat function to the stream beneath the bridge structure. After consulting with the tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the team elected to include large woody debris in a variety of configurations along with specific stream bed geometries and materials.

During construction, the fish salvage team relocated approximately 500 fish from the downstream reach, indicating the high potential of future use upstream of the project. Otak structural engineers designed an 80-foot-span bridge to replace the existing 4-foot-diameter culvert. Shortly after construction was complete, in November 2018, videos captured the return of spawning salmon--after almost a century-long absence! This was truly a historic moment, and a tribute to the funding agencies and Thurston County for funding this project and hiring Otak to bring it to fruition! 

Otak’s team (Doug Sarkkinen--project manager; Elizabeth Sheehy—structural; and Nathan Dasler, Ryan Makie, Frank Sottosanto, and Mike Rafferty—water resources) is looking forward to seeing continued fish in the system, the new channel settling in, and the vegetation establish.

Engineering | Puget Sound | Sustainability | Transportation | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)
   December 5, 2018


David Knowles has joined Otak to direct our transportation business. David will help build on Otak’s strong reputation for integrating natural and built environments; designing roads and bridges, trail/bike/pedestrian amenities, transit, aviation, and ports; and advancing our transportation planning practice.

With a record of directing major transportation and land use planning projects, David has worked on iconic Northwest programs such as the West Seattle to Ballard Light Rail Extension, Tacoma Link Alternatives Analysis, Oregon Passenger Rail, Willamette River Light Rail Crossing and Portland Milwaukie Light Rail expansion, East Link Light Rail Transit preliminary engineering, Rose Quarter Plan, and Portland Mall Revitalization.

He brings a valuable combined perspective of both client and consultant, with leadership roles at Portland Metro, David Evans and Associates, Sheils Obletz Johnsen, Inc., and the City of Portland. In the last nine years, David led CH2M HILL’s transit business and managed the Portland office, the largest outside of corporate headquarters.

“We’re looking forward to having David expand our transportation business, broaden our technical capabilities, and serve our transportation clients by lifting our project delivery to a new level,” said Jim Hamann, CEO of Otak.

“I am excited to join a company that is small enough to be nimble and strategic, while also having a deep bench of talented planners, architects, and engineers,” said David. “I was attracted to Otak by its reputation for smart planning and design that makes a real difference in the places we live and work, and Otak’s culture and creativity convinced me it was the right place to work.” 

 

Corporate | Engineering | Oregon | Planning | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)
   December 4, 2018

Are you an architecture student who is an organized communicator with a passion for sustainability? We need you! Apply now!

Otak has received a 2019 Net Zero Emerging Leaders Internship grant from the Energy Trust of Oregon to hire an architecture student for a 12-week internship beginning in January 2019. 

The intern will run energy use intensity analyses of past and current Oregon projects and report findings into the AIA 2030 Challenge DDx database. Working closely with design staff in determining project energy performance, the intern will gain experience in energy analysis and its role in high-performance design. The individual will gain knowledge of the processes related to the AIA 2030 Challenge and collaborate with other interns to improve the database’s efficiency and accuracy.

“We are moving the AIA 2030 Challenge forward with this grant!” said Brian Fleener, Otak’s Director of Architecture. “This is a wonderful opportunity to grow the next generation of energy-efficient architects. Thanks to the Energy Trust of Oregon for your commitment to this important effort!”

This is a paid internship at $20/hour, requiring a minimum of 15 hours a week from January to March 2019. Preference will be given to students who can work up to over 25 hours per week; have excellent organizational, file management, and communication skills; and have experience with Revit, SketchUp, and Sefaira. 

The internship program advances Energy Trust’s goal to design all buildings to net zero energy by 2030. The interns will share the knowledge they gain with their peers and the larger design community at an Energy Trust training and education event in April 2019.

The 2019 Net Zero Emerging Leaders Internship Program supports students on a path to becoming leaders in their field, while also growing Oregon’s network of forward-thinking design professionals throughout the state.

Architecture | Oregon | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)