Blog
   July 16, 2018

(Photo courtesy of the City of Twin Falls)

The residents of Twin Falls, Idaho, gathered to celebrate the opening of their new Downtown Commons last week. Otak designed a major reconstruction of seven blocks of downtown streets and a new public plaza next to city hall.

A professional base jumper parachuted into the street to kick off the festivities, city leaders shared their excitement in these new amenities, and it was rumored that the mayor was one of many to partake of the new splash pad and fountains during the festivities. Children and adults frolicked and splashed in the plaza’s central feature to escape the 90-degree heat.

The Downtown Commons also includes artwork, a beautiful walkway with landscaping, a special events space, and a restroom and storage building. The Main Avenue streetscape, also designed by Otak, was completely rebuilt from building face to building face with new sidewalks, public gathering spaces (including stretches of curbless festival streets specifically designed for events and markets), on-street parking, furnishings, lighting, trees, landscaping, and other features.

Otak principal, Mandi Roberts, and an integrated design team made up of Otak civil engineers, landscape architects, and urban designers, has worked with the City since 2014 when the planning stage began. “Seeing the Downtown Commons come to life has been gratifying to me because Twin Falls is where generations of my family lived,” said Mandi.

Mandy Werbeck Flett, another member of Otak’s project team, grew up in Twin Falls and supported the robust community and stakeholder engagement program that helped shape the design. “We worked hard to help the community visualize how downtown could once again become the vibrant, active heart of the community like it once was decades ago. It was incredibly rewarding to work with residents to come up with a design that is helping transform their hometown and build a stronger community. Judging from the turn-out at the grand opening and feedback from many residents, the community is embracing and loving the new improvements, and we are really proud of that.”

Community | Engineering | Planning | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)
   July 14, 2018

Congratulations to the City of Golden, Colorado, which received a Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association (APWA) for its Linking Lookout project. Otak worked as structural engineer-of-record to develop the design, construction phasing, and construction cost estimates for this $30 million project.

Linking Lookout is a beautiful and user-friendly path linking Golden and the communities at the base of Lookout Mountain, while helping bicyclists, pedestrians, and cars safely cross over US 6. The project is part of the City’s overall approach to transportation, designing highways that meet regional mobility needs and unite the community.

Otak worked with the City of Golden, Kraemer North America, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and Colorado School of Mines to design the two-span, 160-foot-long by 280-foot-wide structure, which serves as an urban park as well as a major multi-modal transportation conduit. When the design team learned that hundreds to thousands of bike riders crossed US 6 each day, the design team knew that no ordinary interchange would do. Because there would be no other chance in a hundred years to do it right, it was a “Designable Moment.”

The team took the opportunity to create an urban park setting, with up to 10 feet of fill and trees added on top of the bridge deck, along with picnic tables, park space, and a small amphitheater. In addition to reconnecting the community, providing recreational amenities, and enhancing pedestrian and bike safety, the environmentally friendly project also improves traffic flow and air quality and reduces noise.

The design not only improves service for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, but it also improves connectivity from the residential areas on the west side of US 6 to the Colorado School of Mines campus east of US 6. It also increased safety for what used to be Golden’s most accident-prone intersection: 19th Street and US 6. Now US 6 is an underpass and vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians cross safely over the busy highway on their way between downtown Golden and other local destinations, including the Colorado School of Mines and Lookout Mountain.

Peter J. Loris served as the project manager for the LORIS and Associates team. Senior LORIS project manager Dan Beltzer, PE, and former LORIS bridge engineer Sarah Navarro, PE, provided the structural design. The project previously won the 2017 Innovative Transportation Solution of the Year award from the Women’s Transportation Seminar.

Colorado | Engineering | Otak Denver | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)
   July 2, 2018

Otak’s Redmond and Everett offices have an active fun committee that hosts engaging, entertaining events that build office camaraderie. It’s always more fun to work with your friends! Here are eight things we’ve learned about Puget Sound employees:


1. They like to learn about different cultures. Redmond employees celebrated the Chinese New Year with a luncheon and calligraphy demonstration. Employees had their names written in Chinese, thanks to Curtis LaPierre, Eva Ho, and Tasha Wang. They had a potluck with green smoothies to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Pi Day, and on Cinco de Mayo, they celebrated Mexican culture with an office-wide potluck.

2. They love their dogs even more than your average Otak employee. Yes, the Portland office has a “bring your dog to the office” policy, but they allow only one dog per day! At the second annual Puget Sound camping trip in June, the 18 campers had 5 dogs among them. This ratio proudly exceeds Otak’s minimum factor of 1 dog for every 3 humans.

3. A little rain doesn’t dampen their spirits. Although the weather was mostly beautiful on the camping trip at Baker Lake near the North Cascades National Park, the campers were not deterred by a little shower. They enjoyed hiking, biking, rope swinging, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, swimming, floating on the lake, playing lawn games, hammocking, and a trip to the local Birdsview Brewing Company!  The coworkers and friends are already looking forward to next year.

4. Wearing ugly shoes = bonding. Eighteen Redmond employees and friends bowled the night away at Kenmore Lanes this past March.  The night included some amazing strikes and some unfortunate gutter balls.  In the end, there was plenty of pizza and beer to drown our sorrows or celebrate our successes!

5. The office that bikes together stays together! The Redmond office has an outstanding bike-to-work program and 5 active cyclists. Otak has received three grants from the City of Redmond to purchase seven bicycles, a large storage rack, helmets, and basic bike tools, in addition to funds for commute-trip reduction and motorized vehicle reduction activities. Many employees ride their own bikes to work, and anyone can reserve an Otak bike if they haven’t ridden their bike in. Employees have monthly cycling events for lunch, coffee, ice cream, happy hour, and outdoor concerts at the Chateau St. Michelle winery.

6. They’ll look for any excuse for ice cream! Nine Redmond employees hopped on their bikes on Thursday, June 21, to celebrate the summer solstice at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.

7. Whiskey is even better than ice cream. Following up on a wine-tasting event last year, the Redmond Fun Committee hosted a whiskey tasting to showcase the different tastes inherent to different whiskey styles and regions! At least 37 attendees tasted 5 different whiskeys (a bourbon, a Highland Scotch, an Irish, a local rye, and a local single malt) in a pre-poured side-by-side comparison. Pairing food and whiskey may not sound as straightforward as food-pairing wine, but the Redmond office consumed almost 7 pounds of cheese (a half-dozen varieties), which were paired with bread and apples, and of course, various chocolates.

8. Even better when we enjoy projects we’ve designed! In May, employees enjoyed a bike and walking tour of the Redmond Central Connector Trail, which Otak designed and supported during construction. The Redmond office now has seven bikes that employees can rent for bike rides to meetings or for fun outings with coworkers, courtesy of a Go Redmond Grant, and some of the regular bike-muters take this trail to and from work – bringing this regional facility full circle.

Check out our open jobs at Otak to come join in the fun in Redmond. You too could be having fun at work!

After Hours | Fun | Life @ Otak | Puget Sound | Make a Comment | View Comments (0)