August 21, 2018

Employees began congregating in the lunchroom and adjacent conference room around 4:00 p.m. They lined up to fill their plates with food and their glasses with wine, beer on tap, or kombucha. After a busy day at work, it’s fun to relax with our coworkers.

Soon the attention was focused on the screen and Christina West and Nolan Dalman from the Architecture and Planning & Design teams, which hosted Wine-Down Wednesday’s brief program. We said goodbye to one of our summer interns, Nolan Dalman, and congratulated Otak’s two winners of the Daily Journal of Commerce Women of Vision awards: Li Alligood and Tammi Connolly.

First: a game! Employees viewed a series of project photos and competed to guess the name of the project. Was it the Beaverton High School gym repair and remodel; the Kronberg bridge, an elevated, meandering bridge through ecologically sensitive Kelly Creek; the new 22-story hotel and apartment tower in the Pearl District, Hyatt Place; or Yosemite Big Oak Flat visitor station? The first person who guessed correctly got a (fitting for the event) bottle opener.

Next: a rousing, quick game of Pictionary! Teams of two were called up and invited to draw, concurrently, the word on the piece of paper. The first team that guessed correctly went onto the next level of the tournament. Each team got just one try to get it right, but in the finals the best of three rounds won! All of the words related to Otak’s design and architecture work…bicycle lane, curtain wall, mass transit, rebar, crane…some of which challenged our creative attention. Creative Juices, the communications team (1/2 of which was a graphic designer), quickly learned it didn’t necessarily require drawing skills to win a round!

The winning team of Mandy Flett and Otho Belkhayat, titled “WOOOOW,” defeated the last remaining team from Marketing & Communications with the helpful name, “Don’t Eat Yellow Snow.”
Just another Wine-Down Wednesday in Otak’s Portland office, where every other month, we enjoy hanging out with our colleagues and laughing at ourselves!

After Hours | Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Oregon | Make a Comment | View Comments
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
March 2, 2018

On a chilly February Saturday morning, Otak’s Rose Horton joined volunteers in her neighborhood to plant 1,100 deer ferns and several dozen other native plants in the first Habitat Patch in the City. The Habitat Patch at Alberta Park is a part of Portland Parks & Recreation’s Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes program. The Stewardship Saturday was sponsored by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council and Portland Parks. At the next planting on May 5th, volunteers will be adding native pollinator plants including the red-flowering currant, western serviceberry, and Mock Orange to complete the understory landscape. For more information on the project, visit

Otak has a long history of community support and encourages employees to pursue volunteer opportunities in their communities. Volunteer categories include education, environmental stewardship, veteran and military families, disaster services, and youth programs, and additionally can include any activities that seek to “better your community.” Otak also organizes group volunteer activities with organizations including Habitat for Humanity, United Way, regional food banks, Friends of Trees, Depave, and many more. In addition, employees are eligible to receive compensation for these volunteering efforts: One 8-hour day of paid time off (PTO) for every 16 hours of volunteer time for up to 48 volunteer hours each year.

Otak is proud of Rose’s involvement in her community, and we encourage other Otakians to follow her lead!

After Hours | Community | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
February 15, 2018

Otak Portland has revived a beloved office tradition – Wine Down Wednesdays! At the end of a long mid-week work day, Otakians gather and enjoy wine, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres while hearing from some of Otak’s project managers and specialists on recent work they’ve done on a significant project.

This year’s inaugural session showcased Otak’s work with Newland Communities on the Reed’s Crossing Project in Hillsboro. Presenters and topics included Steve Dixon and Ben Bortolazzo, who presented on master planning; Adrian Esteban, infrastructure improvements; Kevin Timmins, stormwater/greenway; and Scott Banker, erosion control. Eric Peterson from Newland Communities also presented on Newland’s work on the subdivision.

After Hours | Architecture | Engineering | Fun | Landscape Architecture | Life @ Otak | Planning | Transportation | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
February 14, 2018

Once again, Otak’s Portland office held a Valentine’s Day Bake-Off, and the results were exceptionally sweet. Otakians provided and sampled homemade sweet treats and in the process contributed to a good cause! Over $200 in donations were raised for the Morrison Park House.

As part of the festivities, samplers voted for their favorite dessert. The three winners this year were Michael Rafferty with his double chocolate caramel cookies, Kelsey Skaug with a cinnamon roll Bundt cake, and David Breneman with an Oreo and Nutter Butter cheesecake. Yum!

Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 27, 2017

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

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

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

Architecture | Corporate | Engineering | Landscape Architecture | Life @ Otak | Planning | Survey | Transportation | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.

After Hours | Community | Engineering | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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! 

After Hours | Architecture | Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.


After Hours | Community | Engineering | Fun | Landscape Architecture | Life @ Otak | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
September 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

Community | Fun | Landscape Architecture | Life @ Otak | Otak Denver | Planning | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Community | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.

After Hours | Community | Engineering | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.

After Hours | Architecture | Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
May 31, 2017

On Friday, May 26, the architecture group took advantage of the beautiful weather and went on a site visit to two project sites in Southeast Portland that are currently under construction.

The team first toured a 63-unit apartment building at SE 44th and Belmont. According to Christina Kwiecienski, "There are going to be some great amenity spaces for 44th and Belmont. I’m particularly excited about the entry courtyard and rooftop community room with a view of downtown."


The team also toured a 121-unit apartment building at SE 50th and Clinton.


Architecture | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
May 12, 2017

On April 24, EcoDistricts CEO Rob Bennett spoke to nearly four dozen Otakians in our Portland office, outlining innovative techniques that Otak’s planners and architects can use in reimagining how to build cities that will best serve humans around the world in the 21st Century.

In his presentation, Rob explained EcoDistricts Protocol, a framework for achieving people-centered, economically vibrant, planet-loving neighborhood sustainability. Application of EcoDistricts Protocol tools, guidance, and rigorous performance requirements results in projects achieving EcoDistricts Certified standing, a mark of global sustainability excellence. Otak joined EcoDistricts earlier this year to support their global mission of developing sustainable cities and neighborhoods.

Bennett remarked on how well Otak’s values and goals aligned with EcoDistricts Protocol. “There is clear alignment between our organizations,” Bennett said. “The Otak gang understands that the future of city building requires a new model of collaboration, performative design and measuring impact. I look forward to the ways that EcoDistricts can support Otak’s pursuit of our common vision and goals to build vibrant, thriving places where we all want to work and live.”

EcoDistricts currently offers services supporting 16 projects across North America, with several in locations where Otak has offices (e.g., Portland’s Lloyd District, Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood). EcoDistricts provides expertise in the areas of green building, green infrastructure, urban planning, and community development, and offers urban development professionals classes in sustainability best practices, leading to their Accredited Professional (AP) credential.

Architecture | Engineering | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
February 16, 2017

Otak Portland found an extra-sweet way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and for a good cause. As part of the Office-Wide Bake-Off, over a dozen Otakians shared their delicious homemade creations. In addition to sampling the tasty treats, the Portland office raised over $400 in donations to the Oregon Food Bank. To quote a representative from the Food Bank, “$400 is about 1,200 meals that we can provide to the community! And with every meal going to help 1 person, it’s pretty impressive to think that you just helped out 1,200 of our neighbors in need!”

The samplers also voted for their favorite dessert. Nick Morozov took First Prize for his delectable Double Chocolate Macaroons. Second Prize went to Amy Scheckla-Cox for her Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies, while Third went to Kelly Buchanan and her Pink Heart Sugar Cookies. Yum!

Between the sweet treats and helping out those in need, it’s safe to say the Valentine’s Day Bake-Off was a great success.

Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.


After Hours | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 22, 2016

Otakians celebrated Thanksgiving with a huge potluck in the Portland office today. Otak provided the ham and turkey, while others brought in stuffing, salads, deviled eggs, and more. The desserts were possibly the best part, and once the sugar wears off, don't be surprised if you hear people snoring.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the extended weekend!

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 2, 2016


Did you take the Ecochallenge? Dozens of Otak’s own took action in this two-week event focused on sustainability, community, and building healthy new habits. 

The good people over at Northwest Earth Institute developed the challenge to target nine different categories: food, community, water, transportation, health, waste, nature, energy, and simplicity. Last year they had 4,333 participants, so it’s great to see Otak join year after year, and we made a respectable impact in our own right.

Can you believe the Otak crew saved 4,871 gallons of water in just two weeks? We had 215 meatless meals, traveled 861 miles by bus (and were late for work maybe only once or twice), exercised for 2,035 minutes, and spent 2,790 minutes outdoors. 

The team captain Zaq provided the heirloom seeds that were given to the first and second place winners—Scott Sanders and Kelly Youngberg, respectively. Rachel Laura provided some really great artwork for a prize as well. 

If you want to learn more about the challenge, or if you want to better prepare yourself for next year visit the website here.

Budding Lyrics, Recycled art by Rachel Laura

(given as the prize to Amy Scheckla-Cox for most blog posts)

Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
September 25, 2015

On September 18th, Otak participated in PARK(ing) Day, an annual international event where participants turn metered parking spaces into temporary public parks! The purpose, aside from having fun, is to encourage thought and conversation about how public space is created and allocated in our cities.

Otak’s park, Where Plants Meet the Pavement, filled two parking spaces with native plants, many of which were donated by local nurseries. Our park created a safe, comfortable place for people to hang out while learning about the many benefits and varieties of native plants. We also wanted to highlight the importance of green space in creating healthy, sustainable urban communities.

Another key ingredient in creating healthy communities is the work of nonprofit organizations. Otak is lucky to share an office building with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and we frequently see staff and volunteers training dogs and handlers to help empower the visually impaired. We decided to sell the native plants in our park and donate all proceeds to Guide Dogs for the Blind. At the end of the day, we collected $405 for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and all pieces of our park were recycled, reused, or planted.

This was Otak’s second time participating in PARK(ing) Day, and we’re already looking forward to creating a new park next September!

Community | Corporate | Fun | Landscape Architecture | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
August 26, 2015

On Monday, a group from the Architecture department at Otak took a trip to see the nearly completed MET Community & Educational Center. The project features a large community pool, K-12 classrooms, a gymnasium and worship space, as well as a smaller community meeting room and administrative offices. The project was designed around a large existing tree that was able to be preserved.  As with a community funded project, many of the interior finishes were sourced within the community, donated or otherwise.

MET's Mission
To view the mission click here.

The Muslim Educational Trust (MET) was founded in 1993 with a mission to serve and bring the community together through Education, Outreach, Scholarship, and Recreation and to enrich the public’s understanding and dispel common myths and stereotypes about Islam. MET seeks to serve the growing Muslim community’s educational, social, and spiritual needs in order to develop generations of proud and committed Muslims who will lead our community to the forefront of bridge-building dialogue, faith-based community service, and stewardship of Earth and humanity.

Architecture | Community | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
August 24, 2015

Fifteen Otakians came out to defend their Kickball Without Borders championship title on Saturday, August 22nd at Glen Haven Park in Portland. After an undefeated morning, a great barbeque, and raffle, team “Shark Otak” came in second to a very deserving team with a final score of 2-3. Otak joined 13 other local A&E firms to raise money for the Portland Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, who currently have projects in Haiti, Ecuador, Honduras, and Tanzania.


Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
August 24, 2015

Earlier this month, Greg Laird (Otak Principal and Water Resource Engineer) hosted the Redmond, 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. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food and drinks! We thank Greg and Cathy for the fun-filled day!

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
March 2, 2015

Otak is pleased to welcome 14 new hires!


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

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



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



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

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


Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Corporate | International | Life @ Otak | Otak Denver | Planning | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
January 30, 2015

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
January 7, 2015

Otak's Portland and Vancouver offices got into the season of giving, and friendly competition, to see which office could donate the most food. The Portland office filled three barrels of food for the Oregon Food Bank, and the Vancouver office donated over 400 pounds of food! The Portland office also had an internal competition with our different disciplines grouped into teams that tried to fill their assigned barrel. The winner of the internal competition was the water natural resources/finance team, with the transportation and infrastructure services/marketing team finishing in a close second. Although the competitions may have helped fill the barrels, the real motivation was helping those in need during the holidays.

Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
December 30, 2014

Otak's Portland office celebrated the holidays with a white elephant gift exchange last week. Lucky participants took home such treasures as a Snuggie ("the blanket that has sleeves"), a Grumpy Cat book, and Basket Case - the Headband Hoop Game. Otak provided food, including a chocolate fountain with several tasty items to dip.

Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 26, 2014

Otak’s Portland office celebrated Thanksgiving this afternoon with an office potluck. Otakians brought in a variety of holiday dishes, and Otak provided turkey, ham, a salad, and beverages. It was a nice way to spend time together before the long weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 24, 2014

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

11241 Willows Road NE
Suite 200
Redmond, WA 98052

Our phone and fax numbers have not changed.

Landscape Architecture | Life @ Otak | Planning | Transportation | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 5, 2014

Otakians in our Portland office celebrated Halloween last Friday with a pizza party! There were several impressive costumes, including a sumo wrestler, Spider-Man, a bloody nurse, and Gene Simmons from KISS, and a few people brought candy and Halloween-themed cookies.

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 5, 2014

Otak participated in this year’s EcoChallenge from October 15 to 29. Organized by the Northwest Earth Institute, the EcoChallenge is an annual event that asks participants to change one habit that benefits both you and the environment for two weeks. It is a fun and convenient way to stop and consider your impact on the environment and to think of creative ways to lessen your footprint. The EcoChallenge website provides many helpful tips, and participants join teams for added motivation and encouragement.

Otak has organized an EcoChallenge team for several years, and this year was one of our strongest showings. Twenty-four participants joined our team, and their challenges ranged from selecting sustainable food options to energy efficiency to trash reduction. Participants earn points through checking in on the EcoChallenge website, posting blogs about their progress, and clicking “Challenge Met.” At the end of the challenge, we gave out prizes to our highest point-earners. This year’s winners included:

Emily Leete, who had organic foods in 20 meals, 20 meatless meals, and 30 meals with 0 waste. She won a piece of sustainable art designed by Rachel Laura.

Kelly Youngberg, who chose alternative transportation as her challenge and saved 34.46 lbs. of CO2. She won an Otak bamboo storage stick.

Theo Malone, who chose water conservation as his challenge and saved 400 gallons of water. He won a bamboo Otak thumb drive.

We're looking forward to participating in next year’s EcoChallenge!

Fun | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
October 8, 2014

Otak’s Portland office participated in the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commute Challenge again this year! Here are a few numbers from our team:

226.5 total trips
2.338 total miles ridden
2,291 pounds of CO2 saved
114,562 calories burned (That's over 148 basic Chipotle chicken burritos or 734 12-oz cans of PBR!)
432 - most miles logged by a single person (Ron Dean)
100% - highest commute rate (completed by Megan Karner, Ron Dean, and Tim Ervin)
63 - most miles Ridden on a Single-Speed Bike = Jason Lien with 63 miles

Participants were entered into a raffle for a wide variety of coveted prizes, including bike spoke reflectors, temporary tattoos, a Metal Earth 3D Laser-Cut Praying Mantis Model (assembly required), and a bicycle-themed mug.

Congratulations, team, and we look forward to participating again next year!

Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
August 20, 2014

Otak’s Portland staff divided into nine teams to create a putt-putt golf course at our office last Friday! Utilizing space, supplies, and design skills, each team created a par-three to par-five hole, with obstacles and challenges including ramps, water features, bubble wrap, and a photo of a dreamy Patrick Swayze. Otakians hit the links during the lunch hour and competed for personal pride, as well as gift certificates. Troy Kent received a Chipotle gift certificate for Best Score, Mandy Flett received a Subway gift certificate for Worst Score, and Megan Karner received a Starbucks gift certificate for getting a Hole-in-One. Everyone celebrated in the end by meeting in the Bistro area to celebrate August birthdays and eating birthday cake. It was a fun event organized by Otak’s Fun Committee!

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

Fun | Life @ Otak | After Hours | Community | Make a Comment | View Comments
August 14, 2014

A group of Otakians took a field trip to active projects under construction in the North Bethany area of Washington County, Oregon, to see how their paper drawings and specifications translate to soil, concrete, and plant life. The project sites consisted of several housing development locations where Otak prepared the grading plans, street layout, stormwater design, and survey for construction, as well as a County public street. The engineers and project managers talked about their work, challenges, and lessons learned in an example of the multidisciplinary cooperation that Otak is known for.

Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Transportation | Water | Make a Comment | View Comments
July 16, 2014

Otak is pleased to welcome seven new hires!

Amy Scheckla-Cox, RA, LEED AP, has joined Otak as a project architect working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. She brings over eight years of experience in architectural design and five years of experience in interior design. Amy has worked in both the public and private sectors in Oregon and is well-versed in both planning and urban design. She also brings extensive experience in sustainable design and LEED documentation. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon, and she is both a registered architect and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Jackie Davis has joined Otak as an architectural designer working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. Her design experience includes a Haiti Clinic Design Chosen to be Built, which earned Best Overall Design, Most Constructible Scheme, and People’s Choice of Design Competition. She also conducted Living Building Challenge research for an existing building retrofit and upgrade in Oregon. Jackie earned her Master of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois.

Nate Erwin has joined Otak as an architectural intern working out of our office in Portland, Oregon. Nate earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois, and he is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Oregon (UO) in Portland. At UO, Nate serves as Co-President of the Portland Student Action Committee, and he co-founded Quipit, a series of events to bring students, faculty, and professionals together to discuss the profession of architecture and topics within the design field.

Cindy Chiao is a water resources engineering designer working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. Prior to joining Otak, she worked as a Hydrology Research Scientist at the University of Washington, where she implemented and evaluated hydrologic models for the City of Portland’s surface water source and large river basins globally to enable climate change impact assessment. She earned her Master of Science in Engineering degree in Environmental Engineering and her Master of Science degree in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan, as well as her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Carleton College.

John Edwards has joined Otak as an Engineering Intern working out of our office in Gearhart, Oregon. He completed a capstone project on TriMet’s Sunset Transit Center Parking Garage Redesign where he served as project manager to improve performance and safety of a park-and-ride facility. John is currently completing his senior year towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Portland State University. He also received an Associate’s Degree from Clatsop Community College. He is active in the American Water Works Association Pacific Northwest Section, the Construction Management Association of America, and Engineers Without borders.

Eeffet Al Nidawy has joined Otak as a planning engineer working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. She brings almost 25 years of experience working on a wide range of engineering projects in the Middle East and six years of experience in the United Arab Emirates. Eeffet earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering Science from Baghdad University.

Asif Khan has joined Otak as a civil inspector working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He brings seven years of experience in construction supervision of roads, bridges, and infrastructure works in Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Prior to joining Otak, he worked as a roads inspector for a private engineering firm in the United Arab Emirates. He has significant experience in QA/QC, report writing, technical correspondence, and managing safety in construction works. Asif earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Al Khair University in Pakistan.

Architecture | Corporate | International | Life @ Otak | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments
April 29, 2014

Kaela and I began carpooling when we started at Otak in October 2012. When Cheyenne joined our carpool a month later for the savings and witty conversation, I took on the task of designing a tracking system to ensure we paid everyone fairly. The resultant marvel of spreadsheet design and efficiency (a personal opinion) calculates who owes what to whom, what payments have been made, the amount saved per month, per person, and the total on tolls and gasoline. Our carpool grew with Chris and Jessica joining in Spring 2013, and from the start of our spreadsheet on November 27, 2012 through March 31, 2014, the five of us have saved a total of $6,550.90! The newest member of the Kirkland water resources team, Francesca, has already joined our carpool, promising more benefits.

In addition to the financial benefits of carpooling, each of us realized the environmental benefits as well. In the spreadsheet, we track saved carbon dioxide emissions using a typical conversion rate (one gallon of E10 gasoline emits 17.68 pounds of CO2 with combusted), and between November 2012 and March 2014, we saved 5.23 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere. The importance of this number cannot be overestimated with the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicting large and negative effects resulting from climate change. While these problems may seem daunting, small actions can have immediate benefits and each one of us can make a difference.

I encourage you to evaluate your own commuting habits. Could you help your bank account with a small change or sacrifice? Or have you heard of the tragedy of the commons? We all can and should do our part to participate in grand solutions.

- Submitted by Neil Schaner

Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
March 11, 2014

Otak is pleased to announce two new hires!

Darwin Allen is a senior CAD technician working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. He brings 16 years of computer-aided design and technical support experience, primarily consisting of civil and electrical for airports and commercial projects. He possesses expertise in drafting, technical support, and CAD coordination. Darwin earned his Associate of Science degree from Lake Washington College and has been a member of the American Design Drafting Association since 1995.

Mike Morrow is a survey technician and administrative assistant working out of our office in Gearhart, Oregon. Prior to joining Otak, he worked as an experimental biology aide for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and has also served as a fisheries technician for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Entomology and his Graduate Certificate in GIS from Oregon State University. He has volunteered with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the North Coast Land Conservancy.

Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
January 31, 2014

Our office in Kirkland, Washington, is ready to watch their Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos on Super Bowl Sunday! Several die-hard fans came to work on Friday decked out in Seahawks gear to show their support.

Go Seahawks!

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
December 23, 2013

Otakians gathered in our Portland office to celebrate the holidays with food and a White Elephant gift exchange! There were around 30 white elephant gifts, and a few of the treasures included He-Man DVDs, a mullet wig, The Fuzz Massaging Pillow, the party game Apples to Apples, a tow rope, a set of marbles, and a reindeer hat/ring-toss game. Participants could open an unwrapped gift or steal a wrapped gift from someone else, and the most stolen item was a festively packaged six-pack of beer. While some of the gifts left us scratching our heads, it was a fun time to catch up with coworkers before the holidays. 2013 was an eventful year for Otak, and we are excited and optimistic about the new year!

Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.

After Hours | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
December 9, 2013

A group of facial-hair enthusiasts in Otak's Portland and Vancouver offices put down their razors last month to participate in No-Shave November. On November 1, participants showed up to work clean shaven and let their beards grow until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. According to the No-Shave November website, the goal of the event  is to raise cancer awareness "by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free." Although facial-hair-growth contests are primarily aimed at men, a few women in the office found ways to participate through donating money to charity. One female Otakian contributed approximately 25 cents per participant per day to the Portland Rescue Mission, which added up to $50. Whether or not our participants choose to keep their beards, we look forward to participating in next year's No-Shave November!

Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
December 2, 2013

Fourth and fifth graders from Cub Scout Pack 419 in Tigard held their last Den meeting at Otak to learn about engineering and earn their Engineer Activity badge. The badge will help them earn the Webelos rank and their Arrow of Light award. Otak Principal, Kevin Timmins, taught the scouts about the different types of engineering, surveying, and architecture, and the boys had the opportunity to view construction plans for the St. Anthony Community Center project that is under construction at their school. They learned about property lines, how to draw floor plans of their homes, and they built a simple electrical circuit with a flashlight bulb, a switch, and a battery to learn about how electricity is generated. They also learned about different types of bridges and were given toothpicks and gumdrops to build a small bridge truss and see if their structure could support the weight of a pint glass. To complete the requirements for the Engineer Activity badge, the scouts will visit an active construction site.

Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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! 

After Hours | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Architecture | Community | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Community | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
September 30, 2013

On Friday, September 20, Otak's Portland office participated in PARK(ing) Day, an annual international event where groups and individuals transform metered parking spaces into temporary public places. We converted the spot in front of our corporate office on SW Third Avenue and Yamhill Street into an interactive rock garden where people could use paint pens to draw or write on the rocks about their favorite places or why they were drawn to Portland. PARK(ing) Day draws attention to how much of our cities are reserved for movement and parking of cars, and tries to reclaim little pockets of that space for people to meet, congregate, and express themselves.

We thank all of the enthusiastic participants who helped make our first PARK(ing) Day a success, and we look forward to next year's event!

Community | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
July 29, 2013

When Austyn Lundeen was hired earlier this summer, he became the third generation in his family to work for Otak’s Portland survey crew. His father, Joel Lundeen, has been working with Otak’s field survey crew since 1994, and his grandfather, Gary Lundeen, originally joined Otak in 1984. This is the first time that three generations have worked together at Otak, and we are proud to have this family working in the field!

Corporate | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
July 15, 2013

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

Community | Corporate | Life @ Otak | Planning | Sustainability | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.

After Hours | Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
November 1, 2012

Several of our Otak offices celebrated Halloween this year, and while it might be difficult to pick an award for best costume, the Vancouver, Washington, office easily won the award for best lunch! Engineer Greg Mines initiated a “harvest” potluck, and everyone pitched in with some great dishes. Doug Sarkkinen brought in fresh venison, and other Otakians contributed sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, ham, beef brisket, pasta salad, vegetable soup, cornbread with honey butter, and fresh apple cider. Of course no Halloween would be complete without sweets, and the Vancouver staff topped off their meal with peanut butter bars and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this elaborate feast is that after eating all of this delicious food, nobody took an afternoon nap.

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
July 10, 2012

The Group Health Commute Challenge is a friendly competition to see who can get more people biking to work during the month of May.

 Our team from the Kirkland office – Panic Otak - logged 47 trips for a respectable 672 miles reducing our CO2 emissions by approx. 658 lbs and burning up thousands of calories while having a blast cycling in the gorgeous and scenic Pacific Northwest - Is that why those burgers tasted soooooo good? The Group Health Commute Challenge was a huge success. According to the event's website:

Together, we reduced our region's CO2 emissions by nearly 1.5 million pounds. We also burned a whopping 74,311,558 calories (that's 150,000 cheeseburgers!) and logged 106,408 pedal-powered trips -- about the number of cars that travel on I-5 in one direction during a 24-hour period. Imagine all those empty freeway lanes!

 A huge thank you to the following participants - Keith Bates, Steve Wilson, Josh Christofferson, Danielle Urbany, Bill Lawrence, Stephanie Smith, Ryan Hawkins, Brennan Elder, and Brenda Elder.

Keep on Rolling!


- Submitted by Brenda Elder


Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Make a Comment | View Comments
July 5, 2012

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

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


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


Life @ Otak | Planning | Make a Comment | View Comments
June 22, 2012


On the anniversary of the merger, HanmiGlobal’s (HG) Chairman Jong-hoon Kim recently visited Otak’s offices in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and Kirkland and Vancouver, Washington. In a speech to Otak staff, Chairman Kim conveyed his appreciation for the hard work being performed at Otak and optimism for the future of the company. Although the current economic climate is challenging, Chairman Kim identified several promising avenues for future collaboration with the global market. He emphasized HG’s unwavering commitment to the Otak-HG partnership and touched on a few of the changes that have taken place at Otak since his last visit in June of 2011. We thank Chairman Kim for travelling all the way from South Korea to visit us and wish him a safe flight home.


Corporate | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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.


After Hours | Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
January 6, 2012

Otakians in UAE decked the office halls last month and celebrated the holidays and New Year with a lunchtime feast. They filled the table with food and filled the air with carols, but, like many holidays, the real action involved presents! They played a type of white elephant gift exchange where players can grab a present from under the tree or steal someone else’s gift. Director, Fares Kekhia, got in the holiday spirit and raffled off two cameras to lucky attendees. It was an exciting end to the year and hopefully the good times will continue in 2012!




Fun | International | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
December 21, 2011

Otak’s Vancouver office celebrated a holiday luncheon December 20, which was catered by a local restaurant, Beaches. They had a “crazy holiday sweater” contest that included three categories: the brightest, the tackiest and the most original. Grant Evenhus, Greg Mines and Marilou Davis were the chosen winners! We had a toast to the New Year and recognized everyone for their dedication and hard work. We look forward to a prosperous and happy New Year for our staff, clients and colleagues.


Life @ Otak | Fun | Make a Comment | View Comments
December 14, 2011

Last week, our crafty Kirkland Otakians sold a beautiful variety of handmade goods at the Otak Holiday Shop. Unique Items for sale included handmade cards and gift tags, cinnamon bun candles, paper white narcissus, sugar scrubs, quilted coasters, delicious jams, hats, fishing rods, and cutting boards made from recycled pallets…staying green.

Thank you to everyone who dropped by and made it a HUGE success! Our vendors sold over $800 worth of items, of which we donated ten percent to our Youth Eastside Services Adopt-A-Family.

Budding plans are developing for next year’s Holiday Shop!

Community | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
October 4, 2011

Otak’s Lake Oswego office recently participated in the annual Bike Commute Challenge organized by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). This year, 12 riders braved the traffic and elements and biked to work at least once during the month of September. The Otak team logged 79.5 rides (a round trip is 1 ride) for the month and traveled a total of 1,492 miles or about the distance from Portland to Tucson, Arizona. Otak’s ride percentage of 4.9% was several percentage points higher than last year. Using the BTA’s formulas, the Otak team saved 1,462 pounds of CO2 and burned 73,123 calories.

Overall, the challenge included 12,064 riders actively logging trips, and a total of 1,372,667 miles. BTA estimates the effort saved 1,345,213 pounds of CO2. Bike commuting is a great way to get exercise, relieve stress, save money on gas, and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Community | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Sustainability | Transportation | Make a Comment | View Comments
September 7, 2011

Yesterday, Otakians at the Vancouver office arrived at work to the smell of pancakes and bacon, orange juice, fresh fruit and scrambled eggs. Rich Darland, project manager, treated staff to homemade breakfast as a thank you of their many hours of hard work. “Morale is good and we’re full, happy and busy,” said Marilou Davis, project assistant.




Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!


After Hours | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
June 24, 2011

Chris Brandt, a landscape architect in Otak’s Carbondale office, recently won first place in the Land8 Doodle contest. His piece titled “Coffee and Cyclocross” uses spilled coffee as inspiration. Brandt said, “The spilled coffee made me think of riding in the mud.” To check out this masterpiece, along with a few other works of art, please click here.


Fun | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
June 21, 2011

On Monday, four Otakians, an engineer, architect, surveyor, and network administrator, all rode their motorcycles into the Lake Oswego office. In doing so, they not only enjoyed the morning sunshine, but also helped the Earth. Four motorcycles on the road, instead of fours cars on the road equates to roughly the following (if the motorcycles were ridden to work every day for one week):

• Burned 12 less gallons of gas
• Saved $45 in fuel
• Used two parking stalls instead of four
• Caused significantly less wear and tear on the roads
• 4 more happy people in the world…

Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
June 8, 2011

This year Otak is turning 30! Our culture is key to our success.



Corporate | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
May 10, 2011

Last Friday, Nawzad Othman, Otak’s CEO/President, spoke at a US naturalization ceremony on Tom McCall Waterfront Park. About 50 people representing 24 countries from around the world took their oath to become naturalized citizens. Nawzad became a US citizen in 1968. He urged the new citizens to become politically active, and reminded them that citizenship comes with responsibilities. “It’s up to you to make it happen,” he told the new citizens.


Corporate | Life @ Otak | Make a Comment | View Comments
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!

After Hours | Architecture | Corporate | Fun | Life @ Otak | Planning | Make a Comment | View Comments