This Wednesday, May 26th, Portland’s Morrison bridge will illuminate with joyful spring colors. In support of the Willamette Light Brigade, Mayer/Reed is sponsoring the bridge lighting to celebrate Northwest parks, open spaces, forest, trails and gardens in bloom. We invite you to catch the Wednesday night bridge glow and explore the outdoors to discover spring delights – rain or shine!
During April, we reflected on the significance of the month in the Pacific Northwest. Nature has shaken off its winter rest and has fully awakened, treating our senses to an explosion of color, scent and birdsong. The month also features a convergence of green celebrations. These acknowledgements honor ideas that are essential to our work but are not limited to a certain month. Together, Earth Day, Arbor Day, World Landscape Architecture Month and Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthday form a tapestry of ideals that we put into practice every day throughout the year.
Mayer/Reed is dedicated to upholding the principles of sustainability and green design as well as advancing our understanding and practices as new strategies emerge. Social sustainability in its many forms, though difficult to measure, also remains a focus of our firm. We recognize that a sustainable design ethic is not static, but constantly evolving. It demands our advocacy, exploration and willingness to consciously lead and adapt.
We are fortunate to work together with forward-thinking clients and partners who are devoted to addressing climate action plans, reducing our carbon footprint, preserving natural resources and wildlife habitat, enhancing water quality and creating healthy, equitable places for people. We thank these clients, partners and consultant teams for their commitments to addressing environmental and social challenges as we foster sustainable design. So much is necessary and, with teamwork, so much is possible.
It used to be that selecting environmentally responsible materials meant using local and recycled content, sustainably harvested wood and low VOC paint. Today, the architecture and design community recognizes that we can do even more through our material choices to impact human health, climate, environment and society. Until recently, though, we didn’t have the information we needed to avoid harmful materials.
This is changing.
Designers and manufacturers are now engaged in a movement to advance content disclosure of architectural building products so designers can understand the environmental and social impact of the materials they specify. With this knowledge, we hope to drive the development of healthier material and product options through increased demand.
Mayer/Reed is one of the 114 design firms that signed the (Portland initiated) Materials Transparency Pledge. We pledge to support the efforts of the Living Product 50 manufacturers to share the responsibility required to make materials transparency work. For those manufactures that have taken the lead by supplying HPDs, EPDs, Declare, Cradle to Cradle, Green Guard Certifications, thank you for your investment to supply this information. To complete the loop, as designers we pledge to:
Support Human Health by preferring products that support and foster life and seek to eliminate the use of hazardous substances.
Support Climate Health by preferring products that reduce carbon emissions and ultimately sequester more carbon than emitted.
Support Ecosystem Health by preferring products that support and regenerate healthy air, water, and biological cycles through thoughtful supply chain management and restorative company practices.
Support Social Health and Equity by preferring products from manufacturers who secure human rights in their operations and supply chains.
Support a Circular Economy by reusing buildings and materials; and by designing for material efficiency, long life and perpetual cycling.
We’re in an exciting time for design, with opportunities to create places that push past the old benchmarks for sustainability. But a system change will only find success when individual designers, owners and manufacturers change their patterns. Will you join the movement?
To read the full pledge or join the signatories: www.pmtc-pdx.org/about.html
Efforts to restore Native American visibility and culture on the Willamette River are underway in an initiative known as the Waterfront Education Park at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland. Through a Metro grant, OMSI is partnering with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) to envision a Center for Tribal Nations (CTN) and Waterfront Education Park (WEP) to restore the Native American community’s presence on the river. The riverfront park, open to the public, will advance multi-tribal visibility by sharing culture, histories, traditional knowledge, ecological stewardship and perspectives on climate change.Mayer/Reed, as the design lead on the Waterfront Education Park, is working closely with OMSI, tribal representatives of the greater Portland metro region and multiple city agencies. We are also coordinating with an architectural team that is exploring feasibility of the Center for Tribal Nations within the planned OMSI district. We are currently participating in a series of listening sessions with Native American inter-tribal leaders and members to learn how we can assist in creating long overdue Indigenous representation and greater visibility in the central city and along the river. New overlooks and an over-water trail segment are being considered as ways to provide enhanced river perspectives. We’re also exploring ideas for gathering spaces and outdoor classrooms for use by native communities and story-telling. Additional works by tribal artists, such as those incorporated on the Tilikum Crossing, may be featured along the waterfront.
The WEP will serve as an extension of OMSI’s mission to further knowledge of science and technology, while framing these topics within the context of river health and cultural, historic and Indigenous knowledge relative to the Willamette River and the Pacific Northwest. First foods, in addition to nourishing native peoples, hold religious, cultural, economic and medicinal significance for Indigenous societies. Plantings such as tule, wapato and camas can be used throughout the site to underscore their relevance to seasonal food cycles, for example. Creating greater connections of site to the river through extensive bank restoration will provide critical migratory fish habitat within Portland’s Central City.
This WEP work strives to advance the vision for meaningful, innovative, and educational public open space, habitat and shared experiences of the Willamette Greenway Trail through the OMSI property. Our previous work with Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and GreenWorks, PC on the Hawthorne Crescent design (a public-private parcel of waterfront between OMSI and the Hawthorne Bridge) will knit seamlessly into the OMSI property improvements.
We are honored to be a part of the CTN/WEP team and look forward to learning more through tribal listening and work sessions, site explorations and public forums to gain valuable input from the community at large. To everyone’s benefit, the result will be a deeper, shared understanding of the river and our relationship to it informed by the narratives, perspectives, insights and knowledge of Native Americans.