Nature-Based Play in the Press

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

Pages from LAM_03Mar2015_OregonPlaygrounds-spreadsLandscape Architecture Magazine on Westmoreland: Go Wild, Oregon Child

Independence Parks Master Plan

GreenWorks has been working with the City of Independence to update their Parks and Open Space Master Plan. The plan will examine the changing recreational needs of the larger, more diverse population while also incorporating modern recreational trends. The update will also develop a new list of goals and tasks to ensure that the City can provide for the future recreational needs of the community. Two public open houses have been held to engage the community in determining future park and open space needs.

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Khunamokwst Park

Cully’s newest park is scheduled to open early spring of 2015. The park’s diverse play areas have a distinctive blend of traditional and nature-based play with swings, prefabricated climbing boulders, a low flow water feature, and a universally accessible play structure. The playground structure was conceptualized to feel like a tree fort next to the signature Douglas Fir tree in the heart of the park. The park also includes a picnic shelter with an eco roof, 3000 square foot skatedot, and a large open lawn.


Basalt columns are integrated around the play structure stabilize the slopes and provide discoverable routes for scrambling. Rubber tiles will be installed on the embankment.



Mauricio Saldana carved a couple pieces of stone that were incorporated into the seat wall including these fiddleheads.


The stone wall will provide seating looking out towards the park and protect the roots around the signature Douglas Fir tree.


Large timbers were salvaged from the structure that was previously on the site and are being placed around the play area for seating.


The low flow water feature has small stone waterfalls, colored concrete channel, and basalt columns that match the other stone in the play area.


Roger Tilbury Memorial Park – Phase 1

After several years of planning and design, Phase-1 of Roger Tilbury Memorial Park has just received Substantial Completion. This neighborhood park in the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD) is unique due to its large size, topography, and natural features. With neighborhood outreach and support, GreenWorks designed a plan for the entire site that provides much needed neighborhood access and connectivity through the park while protecting the wildlife habitat and a stream corridor. Phase-1 includes neighborhood access along the north side of the property, an accessible trail system, a small open lawn, traditional play area, nature play areas, and places to sit and enjoy the natural area. The nature play areas are inspired by the sites remnant Christmas tree farm and wildlife found on the site (Bobcats). Douglas Firs were felled from the remnant tree farm in order to create a healthier, diverse habitat, the accessible trail network, and places for nature play. A future Phase-2 will include an extension of the trail system and a 100’ long pedestrian bridge crossing a stream to connect to the neighborhood along the southern portion of the property.

For more coverage of the park, visit


The traditional playground and open lawn are located at the high point of the site and take advantage of the mature trees.


From the accessible trail looking up the hill prior to the log fort installation.


Logs were salvaged from the remnant Christmas tree farm and composed to make a unique fort structure for imaginative play and loose parts building area.

A shot of the fort from below courtesy of Belkor Logworks.

A shot of the fort from below courtesy of Belkor Logworks.


Kʰunamokwst Park Update

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.

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.

Emerald Masonry is artfully arranged in the play area to provide a physical connection to the Columbia Gorge.

Stonework in the water feature.

Stonework in the water feature.

Evergreen Skateparks has completed the perimeter walls and deck of the skatedot.

Evergreen Skateparks has completed the perimeter walls and deck of the skatedot.

Portland’s first official nature play area is officially open!

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

Westmoreland Construction in Full Swing

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.

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Kʰunamokwst Park Has Begun Construction

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.

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Trillium Creek Park Grand Opening

GreenWorks recently celebrated the grand opening of Trillium Creek Park­, the first neighborhood park developed in the City of Damascus. The City, in partnership with Metro and North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District, developed this new park through the 2006 natural areas bond. The process included a successful open house series to inform the public of the park project, solicit feedback on desired program elements, and select options for a preferred design. The unique design carefully uses topography and the placement of elements to maximize the small, one-acre development footprint. The layout provides a comfortable walking path around the perimeter to preserve open space with artfully located elements that provide excellent views and intimate spaces, and also prevent competition between uses. Other key features include a universally accessible bridge that extends out onto the elevated playground structure. This launching point onto the playground structure is a focal point of the park, composed of locally-sourced boulders and plantings along the edge, which enhance the play environment and blend into the natural surroundings. The park, which is adjacent to Trillium Creek, provides a much needed and long awaited place for the community to gather, play, and connect to nature.


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.



Groundbreaking at Trillium Creek Park

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City of Damascus and North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District recently celebrated the groundbreaking at Trillium Creek Park. Trillium will be the City’s first full-fledged neighborhood park consisting of a large playground, basketball court, picnic area, and open lawn all developed within a one acre footprint. The layout of the park provides a balance of uses and a playground that is inclusive for children of all abilities. The playground design incorporated an accessible path that will lead children to an high point on the site connecting them to a playground structure that sits five-feet high above the surrounding playground.

After working with the City, NCPRD, and community over the last two years developing the concept and construction drawings for the park, we are excited to see the project moving forward and getting built. T-Edge Construction is the contractor.


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Pioneer Neighborhood Park Construction Update















The rains came early this year and are proving to be a challenge for construction, but we are slowly making progress. Below are some photos that document the development. The “welcome plaza” is formed and ready for concrete, the play area is waiting for drier weather so the contractor can auger the footing holes for the play equipment, and the nature play area is beginning to take shape with the installation of exploration logs and boulders. The delivery of this friendly red-legged frog will enhance the character and add to the creative fun in the nature play area. The crushed rock forest loop path is complete.


Construction is scheduled to wrap up mid-November. Stay tuned for future updates as we work toward improving this neighborhood park.


General Contractor: Earthworks Excavation & Construction, Inc.

Client: Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District


Check out what’s on our radar in the Portland area!

Cully Neighborhood Park

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Portland Parks and Recreation is moving forward with a neighborhood park in the Cully area this spring. The park will include a nature play area, picnic facilities and a Skate Dot. For more information about the park and GreenWorks’ role in its development,click here.



Gateway Green Campaign


After years of grassroots campaigning, there is opportunity to transform public land into Gateway Green, a multi-use off road bike park. The Gateway Green Campaign is underway as organizers hope to raise $100,000 in donations necessary for the project. Click here to read more and participate.

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

AM Kennedy Park Construction Update

The weather is finally dry and AM Kennedy Park improvements are making progress. The Bridge and street improvements were installed during the winter/spring and now the park elements including the playground, picnic area, and sports field are taking shape. The park is located off of Beaverton Hillsdale HWY in Beaverton in the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District (THPRD).

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City of Gresham Springwater Trail Spur

Construction is complete on a new trail connecting the Springwater Trail through Gresham Main City Park to downtown Gresham. The approximately 1000 foot long multi-use trail improves pedestrian and bicycle connections through the park on an attractive, ADA accessible 15 foot wide promenade. The trail promenade is a key design element of the Main City Park Master Plan which GreenWorks developed with the City in 2008. The trail also features a distinctive gateway structure and plaza at the south end at the connection to the Springwater trail as well as rain gardens that treat stormwater run-off.

Funding sponsors on the project included Metro, Oregon Parks and Recreation, Urban Trails Funding and Parks System Development Fees. The design team on the project was comprised of GreenWorks as the prime, KPFF Consulting Engineers (civil engineering), Kittelson & Associates, Inc. (lighting and electrical engineering), and Pacific Geotechnical, Inc.

For more information about the project click here.

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