In an online open house, the City of St. Helens, Oregon recently revealed the preferred concept for their long-awaited riverwalk. Former industrial lands are one step closer to becoming a community gathering place with public access and recreation along the Columbia River.
The Mayer/Reed-led design transforms approximately half mile of the river’s edge into a linear park adjacent to old town and future mixed-use development. Meandering pathways, seating areas and overlooks will invite activity and memorable riverfront experiences such as skipping stones, bird watching, kayaking, exploring natural and cultural history or attending an outdoor concert. Riparian and shallow water habitat improvements will be inviting for fish and wildlife as well.
On Friday morning January 7, the aging west grandstand of Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium in Corvallis came down in a dramatic implosion. From our home offices, Mayer/Reed and countless others watched the event safely via live-streamed video, as the 3.5 second planned implosion made way for $153 million improvements. The demolition of the 1967 grandstand marks a pivotal moment in the project, the final phase of stadium upgrades which began two decades ago.
“Completing Reser Stadium” is a design-build project led by Hoffman Construction, Populous and SRG Partnership that will modernize the facility and provide a first-class fan experience with expanded amenities and open circulation. A welcome center for prospective students and their families and a student wellness and urgent care clinic complete the multi-use program.
Mayer/Reed’s site planning establishes a new arrival sequence, pedestrian promenade and a west side entry plaza to support year-round activity. The design will enhance the arrival experience as fans gather and enter the stadium. The firm’s signage design completes the identity and wayfinding program from previous updates through this final phase of improvements.
This project is the culmination of Mayer/Reed’s 20 years of collaboration on the stadium upgrades which began with the feasibility master plan followed by three prior phases of modernization. The firm’s additional work in the OSU athletic district includes the Sports Performance Center, a parking garage and the Beth Ray Center for Academic Support.
The completed Reser Stadium Westside is expected to open by fall 2023. Go Beavs!
Image 1: Still from OSU video, Image 2: Rendering of Reser West Side
We marvel at the world as seen through the eyes of a child, one that is rich with imagination, explorations of nature and attraction to color. As the landscape architects on a collaborative design team for the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic in Portland, Mayer/Reed considered environments for children whose sight may be limited. We asked, how could tactile qualities and perceptions of color help enrich their experience? How could we help to put children and families at ease as they approach the eye clinic for treatment? Within a small garden, could we offer a sense of calm and artistic expression through color, tactile surfaces and natural elements?
We posed these questions to medical specialists and administrators as we studied site design opportunities for the new clinic located directly across from the renowned Casey Eye Institute on the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus. This world-class facility for the treatment of eye diseases is noted for its medical excellence as well as making kids feel safe and relaxed. Recently completed in spring of 2021, the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic welcomes both children and adult patients. We hope that the building’s entry and courtyard offer unique and delightful encounters for everyone.
During the design process, we learned that people with sight as well as those with sight impairments have great variations in their interpretations of color. We became intrigued with NBBJ Architects’ proposal to use colorful dichroic glass on the skyway connecting the clinic and institute. With this inspiration, we explored how to bring this rainbow of color down to a place in the landscape where kids could engage with it.
Leading to the building entry, we incorporated thick sheets of smooth, poly-chrome slumped art glass (fabricated by Portland’s Bullseye Glass Company) into a crisp, board-formed concrete retaining wall. The two materials reveal a sharp visual and textural contrast. The vibrant colors rendered in glass punctuate the wall, remaining durable and effective, no matter the time of day, season or weather.
A verdant, narrow courtyard between the new clinic and existing parking garage provides an intimate place to relax or enjoy a snack. This subdued, shady environment is favorable for clinic patients, especially if their eyes have been dilated during exams or treatment.
The final phase of the clinic’s terraced sensory garden will be completed after construction of the adjacent OHSU hospital expansion. Until then, the colorful art glass wall and richly vegetated courtyard provide unexpected visual and tactile treats for everyone entering the Elks Children’s Eye Clinic.
The opening of the newly renovated Leodis V. McDaniel High School on SE 82nd Avenue will be officially celebrated on Saturday, September 18. Originally built in 1958 and named for President James Madison, the school has been recently re-named for a highly respected, celebrated former school principal and community leader of Portland. Leodis McDaniel, who was Black, “…was well-known for his kind demeanor, contagious laugh, absolute integrity, and his instinctual ability to deeply connect with all people. McDaniel was wildly popular with students and staff while earning numerous awards and accolades from the many community organizations to which he contributed,” according to Portland Public Schools.
McDaniel High School is one of the most diverse in the state, drawing about 60% of its students from Hispanic, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American and mixed-race communities. Over 30 languages are spoken in the hallways here. It celebrates the many foods and cooking traditions of the students and their families with a unique Sustainable Agriculture curriculum that includes a large, hands-on teaching garden and greenhouse.
The 20-acre school site is perched aloft a 60 ft. high hillside with impressive views of Mt. Hood. Straddling the Alameda Ridge, the site is part of a geologic feature that runs for several miles through northeast Portland. Mayer/Reed’s curvilinear landscape design capitalizes on this unique history, referencing the fluid patterns of the ancient Missoula Floods that shaped this exact location 13-15 million years ago. Boulders weighing between 12 and 22 tons popped up everywhere in building excavations. These geologic tributes were muscled and craned into place at building entries, courtyards and landscape as a noteworthy signature for the school. A reminder of what is underfoot, they provide fun, informal “perches” for students to populate.
The new landscape includes over 200 new trees of 35 different species that will become a teaching arboretum for science classes. Thousands of new shrubs on the grounds are drought resistant; a significant number are native species that support local urban wildlife and express the school’s Indigenous Club interests. In addition to six vegetated stormwater planters, a downspout outfall and runnel through the east interior courtyard showcase a dramatic splash of rainwater generated from the building roof.
Other site features include a childcare center play area, new synthetic turf athletic fields and a pedestrian plaza for a new gym, concessions and grandstand. Throughout the school you’ll find a Mayer/Reed designed sign system as well as large graphics that infuse interior spaces with identity. The architecture firms for this 296,000 sf high school renovation are Opsis Architecture and DAO Architecture, and the general contractor is Fortis Construction.