Westmoreland Nature Play Area is Taking Shape

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.

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Pioneer Park Dedication Ceremony


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.



GreenWorks Uses Werbin Park Project as Teaching Tool for Youth Program

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!



Carlos Cortez


Amberlee Riscajche

Nature-Play Areas Developed at Roger Tilbury Memorial Park

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.




Engelman Park: A Nature-Themed Neighborhood Park

Little Henry

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.


Nature Play Emerging at Silver Falls State Park


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!

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.


Nature Play Community Workshop For Westmoreland Park

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!

The Concept:
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!

The Activities:
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.

Model making

Water play station

The Outcome:
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

Join Portland Parks and Recreation and GreenWorks this Saturday, March 17th, for a Fun-Filled day at the Westmoreland Nature Play Workshop!

A fun, interactive chance

for you and your children

to explore nature based play.

How does a nature based

play area differ from

a traditional playground?

Portland Parks & Recreation

is designing the City of Portland’s

first nature based play area in

Westmoreland Park.

Who: All ages welcome and encouraged to play! Come rain or shine, the event is indoors!

When: Saturday March 17th -10am-2pm

Where: 5040 SE Milwaukie Ave. and SE Mitchell St. Tri-Met bus #19

RSVP: Portland Parks and Rec or call Elizabeth at 503-823-5113

More information: www.licenses.ci.portland.or.us/parks/index.cfm?c=57822&

GreenWorks Collaborates on New Park Design

After assisting the City of Wilsonville receive an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) grant in 2011, GreenWorks commenced detailed design work on Engelman Park.  Given the current economic challenges Cities and Park districts are facing in our region, this project represents a successful collaborative effort with multiple City departments including planning, engineering, natural resources, and park’s maintenance to plan and design a low maintenance nature-based park that meets the needs of the community.  The framework of the neighborhood park revolves around large specimen trees that include Doug Fir, Engelmann Spruce, and a lone Red Oak.  The trees and spaces in-between embody the spirit of the park as an urban forest in which sensitively placed paths, native plantings, seating areas, and nature-based playgrounds will be welcomed amenities to the Montebello neighborhood and help connect the residents to nature.  Funding for the park not only includes an OPRD grant, but is also comprised of private donations and volunteer efforts which will establish an example for park planning in our new economy.  The park is scheduled to open this summer.

Engelman Park

Mt. Hood Community College Early Childhood Center Approaches Completion

Mt. Hood Community College Early Childhood Center is nearing completion!  As the first new building on the Troutdale campus in nearly three decades, the center will provide a hands-on environment for college students to work with young children.  GreenWorks designed a Landscape Site Plan for the center creating three distinct areas focused on different learning environments: an area for infants, an area for 3-5 year olds, and an area for free play and exploration which is less structured and serves as a nature classroom.

GreenWorks assisted the client in building a natural play vocabulary, design sense and product knowledge needed to support the development and approval of a nature based playground. Features include earthen mounds, rocks and logs for climbing, a sand and water play area, a sensory garden and art and music features. The playground aims to inspire a deeper connection between young people and nature that they will continue to develop throughout their lives.

Girl Scouts Bring Change of Scenery to Silver Falls State Park

The 3 Girl Scouts, the 3 Dads, Ranger Ken and Ranger Jason, All Standing in Front of the Rocket Box Bat House

Silver Falls State Park is home to hundreds of acres of native forest and dozens of beautiful waterfalls. It will also be the future home of a Natural Play Area. The transformation of this animal-themed discovery area moved further last weekend when three local Girl Scouts Abby, Carling, and Kate built bird and bat houses to be integrated into the site.  Girl Scouts from Troop #1047 were rewarded for their work, earning the highest award for Junior Girl Scouts, the Bronze Award.

Girl Scout Troop #1047 Assembing the Bird Boxes

The girls built a variety of boxes for the site – a Screech Owl Box, Small Bird House, and Bat House all of which were pre-drilled with screw holes and mounted directly to trees in the play area. The bird boxes will attract local native birds into the bird themed play area where park visitors young and old explore human sized bird houses.

Installation of the Bat House

Last Month’s bird house construction comes after the park broke ground last fall, incorporating animal themed play areas that get children outside and connected with nature.  The park is being built primarily by parks staff and volunteers like the Girl Scouts.  The Play Area will continue adding on play features this summer and aims to be open to the public by the fall.

Early Head Start Playground Breaks Ground at Clackamas Community College

After a few months of intensive design, the children at the Clackamas Community College’s Early Head Start are starting to see their playground take shape.  Little hands grasping the chain link construction fence and eyes set on the excavator, they wait patiently as the sea of bark chips is replaced with a natural area for creative play.

Construction manager Stephanie Morgan from GR Morgan Construction placed these signs on the construction fencing so the kids would know what type of equipment was being used.

The Clackamas County Children’s Commission (CCCC) is a non-profit organization that serves children in Clackamas County. Their Early Head Start play space was in need of upgrades. The equipment was out dated and not meeting the physical needs of the young children.

GreenWorks worked with CCCC to develop a plan that fit within their limited space, met development requirements of younger children and offered an alternative play experience from traditional playground equipment. The nature based playground design includes an embankment slide, sand play area, trike loop, potting shed play house, lush planting and timber climbers. GreenWorks helped the client re-invision how to use the existing covered space for additional all season play, how to incorporate appropriate storage, and how play surfacing could extend social areas for music, arts, and classroom activities.

Silver Falls State Park Natural Play Area

Have you ever wanted to nap like a cougar, climb into an ant hill, build a birds nest or dig for insects like a bear? In the coming year you may be able to do all these things and more in the animal themed interpretive,  natural play area at Silver Falls State Park.

GreenWorks has begun work on phase one of the interpretive natural play area at the Park. The idea grew out of the Oregon Parks and Recreation ‘Stepping Stones’ program with the goal to get kids outside and connected with nature.  A 2009 series of workshops with educators, OPRD staff, designers and of course kids, developed themes, ideas and concepts using the Stepping Stones methodology.

The Silver Falls Play area will be animal themed. The young and young at heart can explore a series of play areas situated in a fir and fern wonderland. The first phase of construction will include bear, ant, cougar and bird themed areas. Below are schematic site plans of some of the areas, as well as sketches developed in the design workshops last year. Keep your wild ears open for further design and construction news.

The Cougar Zone at Silver Falls Natural Play Area

Schematic designs were developed from workshop sketches. Here is a Cougar Prowl area sketch.

A Cougar area section created by a workshop participant

Have a wildly fun and safe Labor Day Weekend.