Don Hanson’s Retirement: A Lasting Legacy in Landscape, Planning and Design
Community impact, quality design, and a lasting legacy—all of these are phrases that describe the work of Don Hanson, senior advisor of our planning and landscape architecture division, who has announced his well-deserved retirement. It’s a bittersweet day at Otak, however, we are taking this opportunity to reflect on and commend Don’s work throughout his illustrious career.
A Certified Expert
For the past 37 years at Otak, Don has become a lauded expert in residential, mixed-use commercial, and industrial development work. He also has extensive project experience with public parks/recreation, open space, and streetscape improvements. Greater still, Don served as chairman of the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission and was a member of the commission for 10 years, setting development and land use policies for the entire Portland Metro Area.
To say Don’s career has been impactful would be an understatement. Though it’s hard to pick just one of the many projects he’s worked on, we’re zooming in on a few key projects that highlight Don’s legacy both at Otak and in our greater community:
The Project Breakdown
Center Commons—Portland, OR
- Don’s Role: Serving as the Principal Planner, this project involved the preparation of a master plan and highly detailed site design, as well as a land use approval process coupled with public involvement.
- Project Highlights
- This work is regarded by TriMet, the Portland Development Commission, and the neighborhood as a model for transit-oriented development and in-fill development in Portland’s station area districts.
- The project includes 314 units of housing at both market and affordable rates, housing for seniors, as well as for-sale townhomes. Retail space, a daycare center, and management offices are also provided.
- The focal point for Center Commons is a “woonerf” space that congregates cars, pedestrians, a playground, a bosque of trees, parking, drop-off zones, and generous sidewalks that provide shortcuts to transit. The development is located adjacent to the 60th and Glisan station of the MAX LRT line.
Columbia Knoll—Portland, OR
- Don’s Role: As the Principal Planner/Landscape Architect for this project, Columbia Knoll is a mixed-income redevelopment project located on the ten-acre historic Shriners Hospital site in northeast Portland.
- Project Highlights
- The redevelopment includes affordable senior independent and congregate housing, as well as affordable family housing, a day-care facility, a community center, and market rate-for-sale townhomes.
- The 334 housing units are configured in two, three, and four-story structures that are carefully sited to preserve mature existing trees and the historic Shriners front lawn on Sandy Boulevard.
- The project required detailed coordination with the state Housing Office, the Portland Development Commission, the Historic Landmarks Commission, and an extensive public outreach program with five neighborhood associations. We also worked closely with the NE coalition of neighborhoods throughout the process.
- Don’s Role: Serving as both Principal and Master Planner, this project is in the countryside west of Wilsonville.
- Project Highlights
- Villebois is a spectacular 480-acre site where residential neighborhoods include forests, open spaces, ponds, walking trails, and magnificent vistas. Working in close coordination with the master planner and the City of Wilsonville, Don oversaw the design of a cohesive street and site network that encompasses 135 acres of single-family residences, parks, and open spaces, while preserving the natural features of the site.
- Individual projects within Villebois include residential subdivision developments, engineering of public roads and private alleys, utility infrastructure design, water quality and detention ponds, and enhancement and creation of wetlands. Final design elements include greenways, trails, neighborhood and regional parks, a future community swim center, and entry monuments.
Involvement and Affiliations
Not only has Don’s skill set had an indelible impact on Otak’s project work, his involvement and community affiliations outside of work set him apart as a luminary in the field and his extensive resume reflects that. Some of the groups Don was a part of, and even led, include:
- Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, Past Chair and Former Member
- Urban Land Institute (ULI)
- Former Development Review Advisory Committee: City of Portland
- Former Citizen Advisory Committee Member reviewing the Title 34 Land Development Ordinance: Portland, Oregon
- Former Stakeholder Advisory Group Member for Vision 2000: Portland, Oregon
- Committee Member reviewing the Urban Renewal Districts Status: Portland, Oregon
- Former Downtown Design Review Board Member: Vancouver, WA
Passing the Torch
With a dedicated planning & landscape architecture team now led by staff like our own David Sacamano, Business Unit Leader for our Oregon and Southwest Washington Planning and Landscape Architecture team, Otak will continue to deliver on dynamic projects in Don’s spirit and bring not only our whole selves, but also our expertise to projects in the future. It’s a practice that Don ensured was integral to Otak’s success, and it will continue to be so in our future operations.
Take a closer look at how we celebrated Don’s legacy as an Otakian in this digital booklet and join us in bidding a fond farewell to Don as he begins this well-deserved new chapter.
Thank you, Don—you’ve made Otak a better place.
Take a quick peek at Don’s career below: