Poet’s Beach Opens Along the Willamette July 13

The City of Portland will officially open Poet’s Beach along the Willamette River next week, located in South Waterfront Park, under the Marquam Bridge. Will Levenson, head of the non-profit Human Access Project, led the effort to change people’s perceptions of the river and encourage recreation along the waterfront. GreenWorks became involved in the Human Access Project in 2012, and we’re honored to be part of making Will’s vision a reality.

Poet’s Beach will be staffed with lifeguards seven days a week through Labor Day and will feature amenities, including picnic tables and restrooms. For more information, see the Human Access Project webpage: http://www.humanaccessproject.com/swimming/willamette_river_beaches/poet_s_beach

Hike Canemah Bluff!

It’s the perfect time of year for family-friendly hike on the Canemah Bluff Overlook Trail in Oregon City. The Camas flowers have been in bloom this spring, and Derek Sergison recently visited to take these beautiful photos. GreenWorks completed this Metro project in 2016. For more information and directions, see Metro’s website: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/parks/canemah-bluff-nature-park

Planning and Design Currently Underway for Gateway Green Open Space


Gateway Green is a 35-acre parcel of mostly vacant land and located at the intersection of two interstate highways in Portland, Oregon and adjacent to the Gateway Urban Renewal area. The land is owned by the City of Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation. Planning and design is currently underway for Phase One development of the property. The project began as an effort of local land owners and open space advocates in an effort to catalyze economic growth in outer east Portland.  On a pro-bono basis, designers collaborated with local stakeholders to create a program and vision for Gateway Green. Through conversations and input from technical experts and the community a vision for the site was developed that identified the following project goals:

  • Improving environmental conditions, especially water and air quality, and wildlife habitat.
  • Providing a regional recreational destination, especially for bicycle and pedestrian opportunities.
  • Providing open space and a possible branding opportunity for adjacent Gateway Regional Center and surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Highlighting Portland’s evolving sustainable marketplace and expressing our region’s use of sustainable design solutions.

As part of the six-month project the design team conducted a one-day community charrette to develop the design of the initial concept plan. After development of the preliminary vision the team conducted technical review meetings to ensure the technical viability of concept options, approaches, details, and strategies. A final presentation of the revised vision plan was then presented to the community. The Gateway Green vision plan demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, puts the property to better use for the good of the community, and sets an example for reclamation and reuse of surplus or underused properties around the country.


Bend Whitewater Park (Formerly known as Colorado Dam Safe Passage Project)

The Colorado Avenue Dam improvements are well underway. Photos show the construction of the three channels in the Deschutes River: (1) a safe passage channel for boaters, paddleboarders and tubers, (2) a whitewater surfpark with four wave features and (3) a natural area with enhanced fish and wildlife habitat. The river will also have improved access from a new pedestrian bridge.

There will be a gathering to celebrate the whitewater surfpark on May 27th from 6-11pm at the Volcanic Theatre Pub. Check out the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance for more details.

View of the construction from the pedestrian bridge.

View of construction from the pedestrian bridge.

Large sandbags are used to form a cofferdam to divert water during construction.

Large sandbags are used to form a cofferdam to divert water during construction.

The boulders will form the permanent lining of the channels.

The boulders will form the permanent lining of the channels.

Westmoreland Nature Play Receives Honor Award

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.

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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am_kennedy (1)

Mt. Scott Creek Restoration Nearing Completion

Featured in the the Clackamas Review the Mt. Scott Creek Restoration Project at North Clackamas Park is scheduled to be completed in the upcoming weeks. To read the article, click here.

Below are pictures of the construction of the confluence overlook.

Stay tuned for photos of the finished project and information about the grand opening!

Hard rail install

Stainless steel railing installation

In progress construction of deck overlooking the confluence of Camas and Mt. Scott Creeks

In progress construction of deck overlooking the confluence of  Mt. Scott Creek and Camas Creek

The Human Access Project: Changing People’s Perception of Portland’s Largest Public Open Space

With the completion of the Big Pipe in 2011, water quality in the Willamette has improved by leaps and bounds. In the wake of this achievement, Will Levenson, head of the non-profit Human Access Project, is leading an effort to change people’s perceptions of the river and encourage recreation in the water and along the waterfront.

Mr. Levenson started The Big Float, an annual inner tube float across the Willamette River in downtown Portland to bring awareness to the improved water quality. He has also organized several volunteer clean up days that have uncovered the beach at the base of Tom McCall Bowl and removed 75 yards of concrete from Hawthorne Cove on the east side of Hawthorne Bridge.

Greenworks became involved in the Human Access Project in November 2012, bringing our extensive experience designing places for people within sensitive natural environments, which focus on balancing access with habitat conservation.

This balance is certainly a key consideration as the Human Access Project gains momentum through additional community outreach and scaled interventions along the Willamette’s shores. Greenworks is honored to be contributing to this worthy cause and looks forward to witnessing the transformation of Portland’s largest public open space in the years to come.


The Big Float 2012

The Big Float 2012

02_Unrocking the Bowl

Unrocking the Tom McCall Bowl

03_Tom McCall Bowl After Cleanup

Tom McCall Bowl After Cleanup


College Nature Park Nearing Completion

The finishing touches are going on at the College Nature Park site at the corner of Troutdale Road and Stark Road in Troutdale, Oregon. Metro purchased the site from Mt. Hood Community College and the City of Troutdale is developing it for recreation as well as preserving it for open space. This project is the first phase in the Beaver Creek Trail system that will eventually link together Mount Hood Community College, Beaver Creek Canyon, local neighborhoods and the 40-mile regional trail. The multiuse, accessible trail loop features three wetland overlooks offering unique views into the Beaver Creek wetlands below. Street improvements along Troutdale Road provide parking, access and improved green street facilities. A rustic stone wall and a curving trail fit the sites rolling topography and make this brand new development feel like it has always been there. This is another great GreenWorks project example of balanced conservation and recreation.


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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.


Engelman Park Nearing Completion

Wilsonville’s next Neighborhood Park, Engelman Park, is nearing completion. Site amenities include paths, native plantings, seating areas, and nature based playgrounds which are nestled amongst a framework of large specimen trees that include Douglas Fir, Engelmann Spruce, and a lone Red Oak.  JP Contractors will be completing the construction next month for the park which will provide a central open space for the Montebello neighborhood.

Minto Island Bicycle & Pedestrian Bridge Concept Design

Renderings by GreenWorks, P.C.

The City of Salem and Salem’s Urban Renewal Agency are moving forward with plans to connect three major urban parks and more than 20 miles of trails along the Willamette River.  The Minto Island Bicycle & Pedestrian Bridge is a tied-arch design spanning 600-feet over the Willamette Slough, connecting the existing path in Riverfront Park to the 900-acre Minto Brown Island Park.

GreenWorks developed a conceptual framework that integrates the bridge terminus in Riverfront Park with the existing circulation, the 30’ diameter “Eco Earth” art globe, as well as the existing park infrastructure.  New terraced seatwalls provide additional park seating overlooking the Slough, and are complemented with accent plantings that help anchor the bridge terminus.

Construction could begin as early as Summer 2014. Click here for a link to the City of Salem website, which provides additional information about this exciting project.

Renderings by GreenWorks, P.C.

Future Recreational Attraction on the Deschutes River in Downtown Bend, OR

Birdseye View – Looking South at Proposed Improvements

Recently, the Bend Park & Recreation District has been working on a plan to alter the spillway on the Deschutes River at the Colorado Dam in downtown Bend to enable kayakers and inner-tubers to ride downstream without having to maneuver around the dam. The Colorado Avenue Dam creates an impoundment that was once used to support lumber mill operations and also maintains surface water levels upstream in the Mill District area. The dam is located in an area of the river that is heavily used during the summer months by people on inflatable rafts and inner-tubes. The current configuration blocks downstream passage and requires all river users to exit the river and put-in downstream. The dam creates a pinning hazard exposing a high number of users to the potential of being swept into the dam.

GreenWorks, as part of a team including OTAK, Pacific Habitat Resources, and RiverRestoration.org, provided a design for safe passage over the existing Colorado Dam for many types of river users including inflatable crafts, and hardshell boats like kayaks and canoes. The design includes whitewater play features, a higher pedestrian bridge and increased habitat diversity along the river. By incorporating a fish passage and on-bank habitat restoration, improvements to McKay Park, and removal of the existing pedestrian bridge, the design will achieve improved safety for river users and environmental conditions of the river.

Perspective Vignette – Looking Upstream from the bank of McKay Park

Preferred Alternative Site Plan

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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