Last summer, we blogged about Astor Elementary School’s depaving project where a group of volunteers spent a Saturday removing 5,000 square feet of asphalt to make way for a new playground. The demolition was orchestrated by Depave (depave.org) whose mission is to assist communities in transforming their pavement lots into neighborhood greenspaces. We are very pleased to share that the new playground is now complete and includes a turf mound, group swings, tree groves, and a custom log and boulder climber. These elements were carefully designed and arranged to have a high play value and promote social play with the use of manufactured equipment and natural materials.
Ben Johnson will be taking part in two panel discussions at the Children and Nature Symposium, organized by the Intertwine Alliance. Ben will be contributing to conversations on “Rethinking Risk and Liability in Outdoor Spaces” and “Optimizing Creative Play – a New Way to Look at Playgrounds.”
Where: Oregon Zoo (4001 Southwest Canyon Road, Portland, OR 97221) in the Cascade Crest ballroom
When: Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 9:00 AM
The GreenWorks team took a little time
off lunch last week to visit the Playscapes exhibit at PNCA. Thank you to Stephanie of Design Museum Portland for giving us a private tour of the exhibition, which runs through December 17th. Two GreenWorks projects are included in the exhibit: Westmoreland Nature-Based Play Area and Khunamokwst Park. Our team got to try out Playworld’s new saucer, which is on display, and had fun playing on PlayForm 7 outside of PNCE in the North Park Blocks. This Sunday, PNCA will host a kids workshop at 1pm (511 NW Broadway). Learn more at www.designmuseumportland.org
Design Museum Portland is currently hosting Extraordinary Playscapes, a nationally touring exhibition focused on playground design. Two GreenWorks projects are among the five local Portland (and 40 international) playgrounds featured. Westmoreland Park Nature-Based Play Area and Khunamokwst Park, both designed for Portland Parks & Recreation, are showcased for their innovative ways of redefining playground design and inspiring imaginative play.
The exhibit opened last night at Pacific Northwest College of ART (PNCA) and will run through December 17th before continuing on its national tour. Several events are scheduled throughout the Fall, including a screening of The Land: Adventure Playground (October 20th), a kids workshop on November 6th, and a panel discussion entitled “How Portland Does Play” on November 17th. (All events are at PNCA, 511 NW Broadway, admission is free). For more information, visit: www.designmuseumportland.org
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!
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.
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.
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.
Construction of the Westmoreland Nature Play Area is in full swing and will be completed next month. Cascadian Landscapers is the General Contractor and have done a wonderful job crafting the organically shaped water mound, creek channel, and sand play area. The water mound is comprised of concrete cubes salvaged from the Crystal Springs Creek Restoration project. Adam Kuby, the project’s artist, along with Star Masonry recently installed log and boulder climbing features that are quite spectacular in their scale and composition. Oregon Log Homes fabricated the logs including cutting them to lengths and installing metal brackets for structural support.
The Westmoreland Nature Play Area is a pilot project for Portland Parks & Recreation’s Nature-Based Play Initiative. GreenWorks worked with PP&R, the public, and design team to create a unique setting that encourages creative play with the use of natural elements such as sand, water, boulders, and logs. GreenWorks developed a master plan and construction documents that will serve as a model for the region for developing a large scale nature playground targeting all ages and abilities.
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.
Westmoreland has seen significant construction progress in recent weeks. Concrete sidewalks are currently being poured that will eventually provide the main, accessible spine through the playground. This project has been several years in the making to provide Portland Parks and Recreation a pilot project for how to design, build, and maintain a nature-based playground. The design team’s artist, Adam Kuby, will be installing artistic log climbing features in July before the playground is complete.
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.
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.