Among the many important decisions voters have to consider in November is Metro’s 26-178 Protect Our Natural Areas ballot measure. Livability of our region has always been an inspiration and driving factor in our work at Mayer/Reed as well as in our personal pursuits with our families. Support of this measure will take steps toward ensuring clean water, restoring wildlife habitat and connecting people with nature. This measure demonstrates what we hold dear as Oregonians. Please join us, and many others, in support of renewing Protect Our Natural Areas. For more information, see: www.protectournaturalareas.com.
A dozen years after completion, the Rain Garden at the Oregon Convention Center continues to draw national and international interest for its pioneering approach to stormwater management. As the lead designer, I recently led a tour of the site for a group of landscape architects from Beijing, China where designing visible, green infrastructure is in its infancy.
The independent practitioners and academics from the School of Architecture and Design of Beijing Jiaotong University were studying successful examples of integrated stormwater landscapes in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
They were particularly impressed with the long term success and lessons learned from The Rain Garden, a series of vegetated basins that collects and treats stormwater from over 5.5 acres of roof area from the OCC expansion. It was essentially a large scale experiment at the time of its design and installation.As we gathered among the chiseled basalt boulders in the spillways, the group took copious notes and photos and challenged me with questions: “How did you determine the size and depth of the basins? Where does the water drain to? What type of stone was used and where did it come from? Would you do it the same way if you were designing it now?”
I found myself drawn into their excitement for a project that I have come to take for granted among many prolific, sustainable stormwater projects in the Pacific Northwest. Nowadays, as rain gardens have become a character-defining feature of Portland, it’s heartening to recall that this bold, demonstration project did, in fact, help inspire a movement that is now acknowledged and emulated worldwide.The tour was organized by Hong Wu, Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture at Pennsylvania State University and Xiaojie Tian, Principal of LA Road Study Exchange Program and sponsored by the Landscape Architecture Frontiers Magazine of China.
On display now at the Center for Architecture in Portland, Oregon, is an inspiring view into the design processes of Snøhetta, the internationally renowned design firm partnering with Mayer/Reed on the Willamette Falls Riverwalk and the James Beard Public Market.
With an emphasis on studio culture and design philosophy, Snøhetta: People, Process, Projects, is Snohetta’s first full-scale exhibit in the U.S. on view through June 30, 2016, with a public reception on First Thursday, June 2nd from 5:30-9:00 pm.
Our recent design proposal for the Loop PDX competition focused on activating an underutilized site in the Central Eastside Industrial District resulting in a top 10 submission for the Mayer/Reed & Toole Design Group team. Loop PDX asked teams to imagine the future of a proposed 6-mile pedestrian and bike “Green Loop” linking Portland’s east and west sides. Our design submission “seeds the loop” with a pop-up intervention to stimulate public and private development interest in creating a north/south green corridor intersected by activity nodes.Entitled DIV|7, the concept creates a southern gateway and public plaza at SE 7th Ave and Division St. A typology of repurposed shipping containers provide various configurations for maker studios, galleries, food vendors and bike rental/repair, providing low cost incubator space for business start-ups that is in keeping with the district’s character. Our submission also modifies one block of the 7th Avenue right-of-way to create landscaped, segregated pedestrian and bike lanes with a vacated triangular parcel converted to a plaza with views to the river.Our team found the competition valuable in stimulating our design thinking. Energized by the opportunity to shape a place we’d all use, we plan to continue the conversation that pushes design for Portland’s livability. We look forward to the Green Loop becoming reality. Imagine the future!