GreenWorks recently received a 2015 National APA Award for Excellence in Sustainability in the category of Sustainable Parks, Open Space and Recreation for their work at Westmoreland Nature Play area. GreenWorks worked with Portland Parks and Recreation to replace an aging playground with an innovative nature play area at the same time that Portland Bureau of Environmental Services led a stream enhancement /fish habitat improvement project on Crystal Springs Creek, which is adjacent to and an inspiration for the nature play area. The Award recognized both projects for creating a new place that connects watershed health, human health and livability.
Westmoreland Nature-Base Play Area was honored as one of the best public art projects of the year by Americans for the arts. Click here for more details.
Khunamokwst Park is set to open this Saturday, April 25th! You can find more information here. Head on over this weekend and check it out!
Courtesy of R&R General Contractors and SkyShots Aerial Photography
Check out the links below to see the most recent articles about our exciting nature-based play area projects around Portland!
This Metro Parent article includes a map of nature play areas in the Portland metro region and stars 8 GreenWorks projects: The All-Natural Playground
The Oregonian on Marshall Park: Q&A: Creator of ‘Children at Nature Play’ signs hopes to get more kids outdoors
Landscape Architecture Magazine on Westmoreland: Go Wild, Oregon Child
Westmoreland Nature Play was recently recognized by the Oregon Chapter of ASLA with an Honor Award for design. We would like to thank our entire team for all their contributions. Thanks especially to Portland Parks and Recreation for their support and desire to connect kids with nature.
Children can move and manipulate loose parts of the play area to create a fort and tailor their own play experience. The Sequoia branches were taken from the grove of trees in the park
Logs and boulders are arranged in a variety of ways to provide climbing and balancing challenges for kids of all ages. The logs in the foreground are extensions that lead kids between the Mountain Mound and Log Tilt in the background.
The Large Log Climbers in the background hint at what it is like to climb trees. In the foreground, one of the six carved stones tells the story of rainwater’s journey from the forest to the stream.
The creek channel is an 80’ long and meanders along a large sand pit. Water weaves its way around recycled concrete cubes and boulders and under willow domes to provide a unique play experience. Kids use sand to create dams to divert water into the sand play area.
The hand pump is the metaphorical source of Crystal Springs located at the top of the Creek Mound. The kids at the pump have the power to activate the “stream” and can direct the water with weirs through several different channels down the Concrete Mound to the main creek channel.
Construction at Kʰunamokwst Park is well over the half-way point and is starting to show off some the features. Much of the sidewalks are paved, and the skatedot and stonework in the water feature and play area are nearing completion. One of the main features of the park includes a stone carving of a Douglas Fir Cone which will be placed in the play area for kids to climb. Images below show progress on some of the main features.
The Douglas Fir cone in-progress by artist/stone carver Mauricio Saldana.
Emerald Masonry is artfully arranged in the play area to provide a physical connection to the Columbia Gorge.
Stonework in the water feature.
Evergreen Skateparks has completed the perimeter walls and deck of the skatedot.
On any given day, Portland’s brand new nature-based play area at Westmoreland Park is packed with up to a hundred kids playing in the sand and water area, climbing on the boulder and log climbing features, or building forts with large sequoia branches. Parents are not only watching the imaginative play that all the natural elements inspire, but are also participating with the kids to explore the play area’s unique features. Located in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood of Portland, Westmoreland Nature Play Area was born of the desire to update the existing outdated play area and replace it with a 100% custom nature-based play environment. The total play area is approximately one acre and allows families to build their own play experience. The project received a 2014 Honor Award from the Oregon Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects.
GreenWorks was selected by Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to update the existing outdated playground and replace it with a 100% custom nature-based play environment. PP&R recognized the value in nature-based play for local children and proposed that the Westmoreland Playground be a pilot project for a natural play environment. GreenWorks worked with the client, public, and design team to define how nature-based play would function for this particular site. The design team included environmental artist, Adam Kuby. Adam not only helped envision individual artistic elements within the park as play features, but also collaborated with the design team on the overall conceptual design of the playground that represents the restoration of the adjacent Crystal Springs.
A 4 year-old is verifying the willow whips are secure along the creek channel.
Logs extend from the Mountain Mound (back right) and are situated to provide connection to the log tilt (back left).
Kid’s take turns at the farm pump on top of the creek mound to activate the water in the sand and water play area.
Rope helps kids climb up and down the log climbers.
Branches were trimmed by PP&R to provide better visual access through the adjacent Sequoia grove and loose parts that were used to make a make-shift fort.
The next park in NE Portland has begun construction and has been officially named. Formerly known as the Werbin Property, the site will be called Kʰunamokwst Park (pronounced KAHN-ah-mockst). Kʰunamokwst is Chinook wawa for “together”. Chinook wawa is the language commonly used by the original people of this area. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on August 7th with Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Director Mike Abbate, joined by neighbors and project partners, to unveil the name and officially celebrate the beginning of construction of the first developed park in the Cully neighborhood. GreenWorks was the prime designer for the park starting from the Master Plan through construction. Features of the park include a combination of traditional and nature-based play, skatedot, public art, a modest picnic shelter with an eco-roof, walking paths, sustainable stormwater facilities, half-street improvements, native plantings, and an open lawn for neighborhood events and passive recreation.
Pioneer Park, located in the Tualatin Hills and Recreation District (THPRD), embodies some unique natural features including approximately 7.5 acres of wetlands, stream corridors, and upland forest. The park was redeveloped with funding from the district’s 2008 voter-approved bond measure and is an amenity for the surrounding neighborhood. GreenWorks provided general park upgrades, recommendations for increased habitat value, and an approach to stewardship while creating a memorable and enjoyable recreation space. The park improvements respect the natural amenities on site including hundreds of mature native trees and a seasonally wet field. The design team followed City of Beaverton, Clean Water Services, Division of State Lands and Army Corps of Engineers guidelines for development in sensitive ecosystems.
From 11am to 3pm on Saturday, May 10th, THPRD hosted a Nature Day in the Park, where park users could learn about the park’s resident animals, and explore the forest and fields in search of wildlife. Face painting, hotdogs, and a ribbon cutting ceremony officially commemorated the completion of the park improvements. Come experience and play in this new community space!
From SW Walker Road, go north on SW Meadow Drive until it meets NW Pioneer Road. The park is on the northwest corner of the intersection.
As part of the Werbin Park development with the City of Portland Parks & Recreation, GreenWorks is supporting the Cully Neighborhood’s commitment to social equity. GreenWorks is providing outreach for underprivileged neighborhood children who, ultimately, are the true clients of this new park. The Werbin Park project is being used as a platform for teaching kids in the program about park design and the building process. Partnered with Verde and Hacienda’s Expresiones after school program which engages 5th, 6th and 7th graders during the summer, GreenWorks is providing a series of events with Expresiones. The program consists of six weeks of activities including a site visit to Werbin Park and other similar parks. On the first field trip to GreenWorks, students learned about the design process, saw how construction drawings are put together, and participated in activities to develop their design skills. GreenWorks employees Ben Johnson, Claire Maulhardt and Jeff Boggess planned the interactive office visit with the students.
GreenWorks is working with Travis Ruybal (City of Portland), Tony Defalco and Nestor Campos (Verde), and Anna Gordon (Expresiones, Hacienda) in planning the summer field trips.
Outside taking some measurements! Expresiones, Hacienda’s after school program for kindergarten through eighth grade, visit GreenWorks, P.C. (From Left to Right: Nestor Campos, Jordi Bautista, Carmen Cortez, Carlos Cortez, Amberlee Riscajche, Guillermina Mendoza, Anna Gordon, Carlos Escalera, Jordi Moo, Ben Johnson – GW.)
Can four people walk side by side down an eight foot pathway and have someone else pass them in the opposite direction? GreenWorks organized spatial exercises demonstrating how the size and layout of elements like pathways and plazas relate to the number of users.
GreenWorks conducted a small drawing exercise showing the students how to start drawing a perspective. Each student designed the shape of their new house in plan and then learned the steps of turning that plan drawing into a 3D shape. See the wonderful drawings they produced below!
Construction is nearing completion for the second phase of the North Canyon Nature Play Area at Silver Falls State Park. This will be the first Nature Play area implemented within the State Park system. The grand opening is scheduled this summer in early August.
After completing the Master Plan, GreenWorks is currently in the Design Development phase for Roger Tilbury Memorial Park for Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District. The 12 Acre site includes traditional neighborhood park features, nature-based play areas, and an accessible trail network. The neighborhood park is a unique site due to its large size and significant natural features including heavily wooded areas with steep topography and a stream protected by a vegetated corridor regulated by Clean Water Services. The project has some very interesting concepts for nature-based play including an active area with a long embankment slide, a building area designed to feel like a remnant log fort, and a discovery area intended to represent the wildlife and natural character of the site. Stormwater is gathered from a swale and sent cascading down a natural creek bed and then ending at a collection point at the bobcat den.
With the high demand to incorporate nature into people’s lives in urban settings yet provide basic needs such as playgrounds and passive open space, there is a new type of park emerging: Nature-Based Neighborhood Park. Engelman Park in Wilsonville, Oregon has the elements of a traditional neighborhood park, but it feels quite different. Located in a high-density residential neighborhood, the nature-theme is a derivative of the large amount and size of the existing trees planted by the Engelman family in the 1960’s. Along with the preservation of the urban tree canopy, the design relies on vast native planting areas and an understory of forest duff, as well as nature-based playgrounds to give the sense and feel of a wild, natural environment amidst a developed neighborhood setting.
On opening day, children started their play experience at the nature-themed playground structures near the entrance of the park. After a few runs down the slide, they made their way along the crushed rock path that follows the dry-creek bed towards the play equipment in the back of the park that focus on balancing and climbing. Along the way, the kids discovered boulders and downed logs carefully placed throughout the park as landscape elements. As soon as one child strayed off the trail, others followed suit as if they never had the opportunity to see and touch a real rock or log. Next thing we knew, a two-year old was insisting the dry creek bed was their personal pathway. Why walk on plain-old concrete when you can walk on rocks?
Nature-Based Parks allow for self-discovery; children are free to roam the park and play in areas that are unlike any place they have seen or been to. Despite being quite simple looking, it was no small feat to create this feeling in a one acre park. It took thoughtful design moves to create the space, from the layout and scale of paths and gathering spaces, to planting design, to the placement of boulders and downed logs. The park was designed to represent a wilder, natural environment with an aesthetic that enables park users to feel as if they have left the City without going far from home.
NATURAL PLAY SETTING
Last week construction was in full force at Silver Falls State Park with a crew working on the natural play area. The Bear, Cougar, and Bird themed discovery areas are being developed with unique large log components. The North Falls Nature Play Area was designed around a 1/4 mile loop trail with 15 animal themed areas. The setting and access to natural materials will make this a fantastic project!
CONSTRUCTION AND VOLUNTEERS
A four foot diameter fir tree was felled, portioned into pieces, peeled and placed in the natural play area. Half of the tree will become a crawl through ‘cub den’. The other half will be hollowed out and become the ‘bear cave’. Tons of rocks were arranged into a scramble so kids can climb the rocks like a Cougar would. A group of volunteers braved the rain last weekend and planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs. The play areas instantly felt more alive. The bird blind was also set and the project is one step closer to completion. Look for a grand opening announcement in June 2013.
Portlanders celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a community design event put on by Portland Parks and Recreation and GreenWorks geared around the eventual design for a nature play area to be built in Westmoreland Park. Kids of all ages really enjoyed the event! Their creativity, teamwork and ingenuity were all in full gear. It was an amazing start to an exciting project. Thank you to those who joined us!
Young builders hard at work!
Portland Parks and Recreation and GreenWorks Landscape Architecture invited the community to play with natural materials, talk about natural play, make models and lay the groundwork for the design of the nature play area at Westmoreland Park. The City of Portland recognizes the benefits of letting children play in nature, including the physical, mental and social benefits. Prior to the natural play workshop, Parks and Recreation staff participated in a workshop to discuss risk and maintenance associated with natural play areas.
VIDEO: Here’s a great video of one of our enthusiastic young builders!
Activities ranged from having adults remember their childhood play experiences, to free building and water play areas, to model making. The design team was able to talk with kids and adults about what they would like to see in the natural play area.
Water play station
As kids of different ages and abilities worked together, creativity soared. We got some amazing feedback and ideas for the play area. Plus, we had a lot of fun!
Kids designing their 'dream playground' at the model making station