Eastbank Esplanade Gets Some Love

Starting in the month of hearts and flowers, Portland’s cherished Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade is getting another kind of love: maintenance and repairs.

On February 1, the busy river walk will close for two months for much-needed TLC after 18 years of constant use.

Since it opened in 2001, the Eastbank has remained a popular destination for waterfront strolls, rolls or jogs, affording excellent views of downtown, the Willamette River and its many bridges.

Opening day parade on the Eastbank Esplanade 2001
Opening day parade on the Eastbank Esplanade 2001

The 1.5 mile linear park, a long-desired amenity along the central city’s waterfront, was challenged by limited space between the river and freeway. When it was completed, it became an immediate hit, connecting with the west side downtown Tom McCall Waterfront Park to create a well-traveled loop. The city’s latest counts show that the esplanade withstands about 2,400 bicycle trips and 1,200 walking trips per day in summer.

Eastbank Esplanade before repairs
The Eastbank Esplanade is due for major maintenance.

Thanks to the efforts of advocates and a city council that understands its significance to the community, the Eastbank will be spiffed up in time for the springtime masses seeking outdoor activity. And for the hardy souls who depend on the esplanade for year-round bike commuting, the city has your back with a detour onto the west side’s Better Naito.

As designers of the award-winning esplanade, we at Mayer/Reed are heartened by the city’s investment in the Eastbank’s future and thrilled that it will continue to serve and delight for many more years. We think Vera would be pleased!


What’s the Story of Errol Heights Park?

What are your fondest childhood memories of explorations in nature? How did these experiences influence your values? How do we engage today’s families in natural settings, so they pass along the importance of environmental stewardship? How do we best create a balance of park amenities with preservation of the wild?These are salient topics of conversation in the planning of Errol Heights Park in SE Portland. If you haven’t discovered it first-hand, this choice locale is known for its spring-fed ponds, beavers, and steep, wooded terrain. Formerly private home sites, it’s now a 16-acre public space with minimal improvements. It reminds us of the rich, feral landscapes we experienced as kids.At a public open house earlier this month, Portland Parks and Recreation and the design team shared a proposed park plan that takes a light touch. It preserves the habitat of the lower natural wetland and riparian areas, improves the trail system and provides a low-impact, upland area for overlooks, nature play, picnics and community gardens. We had one-on-one conversations with neighbors and families, as well as educators who regularly use the space for environmental education. They shared their insights regarding park amenities, character and themes. Even the youngest attendees got involved, creating imaginative playgrounds with tactile materials. The community’s feedback will be reflected in our refinement of the park design.

A Fruitful Awards Season

With fall comes the awards season – a time when we celebrate the best of design in the built environment. Seeing the exemplary work of our professions is inspiring and pushes us all to aim higher.Mayer/Reed’s landscape architecture work at Portland State University’s Karl Miller Center garnered an Honor Award in General Design from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Oregon Awards on November 2. The jury lauded its positive environmental and social impacts and integration with the architecture and urban realm.On November 5, the Karl Miller Center received accolades again from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Seattle. The chapter honored SRG Partnership and Behnisch Architeckten with an Award of Merit.The AIA Seattle Chapter also recognized DLR Group’s MacLaren Campus Cottages with an Honorable Mention. The youth correctional facility housing is designed to encourage healthy adolescent development and rehabilitation. As part of this mission, Mayer/Reed’s visual communications group designed environmental graphics in collaboration with mural artist Blaine Fontana, artfully depicting stories of self-reflection, transformation, and resilience that were shared by the youth.Finally, the modernization of Portland Public Schools’ 1921 Roosevelt High School received a DeMuro Award for Excellence from Restore Oregon for its extraordinary historic rehabilitation. Led by Bassetti Architects, the Roosevelt team includes Mayer/Reed for site design.

We are continually grateful for opportunities to collaborate with our design partners in the creation of exceptional, award-winning work.

Posted November 21, 2018
Written by: Mayer/Reed