Gill Williams at The University of Oregon, Portland School of Architecture

Gill went back to school this spring term, co-teaching a design studio at the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture. Co-led by Tim Smith, Principal at SERA Architects, the studio entitled Portland Green Loop: A Placemaking Armature for the 21st Century City explored how the public infrastructure of cities “can be a catalyst for the (re)generation of whole and beautiful city districts and neighborhoods, and why the public realm needs to be multi-functional from an economic, environmental, and social standpoint.” (excerpt from the syllabus) The 6-mile long Green Loop is a linear greenway envisioned for Portland’s central city area. Spanning the Willamette River and touching a variety of close-in districts and neighborhoods this pedestrian-centric facility is envisioned as a park, transportation corridor, urban placemaking catalyst, habitat and social experiment. 25 first year masters students spent 10 weeks exploring the possibilities of “The Green Loop” and the re-imagining of the neighborhoods along the alignment. Guest speakers during the studio included representatives from the City of Portland, the local development community and architecture, planning and landscape architecture practitioners. The studio culminated in two days of presentations by the students to a variety of local professionals.

Minto Island Bicycle & Pedestrian Bridge Concept Design

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.

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

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, 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.

Highway 213 Bridge Completed

Following a successful rapid bridge construction that required a multiday road closure, ODOT officials announced the reopening of Highway Oregon 213 in Oregon City at the I-205 interchange on Monday night, ahead of schedule.  The “Jughandle Project” will relieve traffic backups and improve safety at the busiest signalized intersection in the state by eliminating left turns, adding a new alignment for Washington Street, and replacing a 130 foot-long section of the 6-lane bridge. Click here to view a brief time lapse video of the rapid bridge construction – amazing stuff!

GreenWorks developed a planting and irrigation design as part of the project, including a rehabilitated gateway landscape into Oregon City, new green streets designed to accept and treat stormwater, and a 7+ acre mitigation site planted with thousands of native trees and shrubs. Click here to view the plans and drawings.

Oregon City's Jughandle Project Breaks Ground

Oregon City’s Jughandle Project broke ground last week kicking off construction for a project that aims to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion on Highway 213 at the I-205 interchange.  GreenWorks joined the City of Oregon City, ODOT, the Federal Highway Administration, METRO, Clackamas County, OBEC Consulting Engineers, and MOWAT Construction for the celebration last week in Oregon City.   GreenWorks developed planting and irrigation plans for this gateway into Oregon City. More information can be found here:

Congrats to our teammates and the organizations involved that make this project a success, one that improves Highway 213 while building the area’s infrastructure and facilitating future economic growth. “

Join us for the groundbreaking of the Merlo Bus Fuel & Wash Facility and LIFT Building

The Merlo Bus Facility is TriMet’s primary facilities operation for the western service region.  This project constructed a new 19,000 sq. ft. operations facility within a fully built out site which needed to maintain its daily operation during construction.  GreenWorks provided design services for the site including new stormwater facilities, landscaping, and irrigation.  Design efforts included consideration and coordination with the existing CWS stormwater swales and THPRD’s Nature Park adjacent to the project site. Site design included street frontage improvements for accessibility and street trees.

Please join U.S. Congressman David Wu, Washington County Commission Chair Tom Brian, Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen for the groundbreaking of two new facilities at our Merlo Bus Facility: a new bus fuel and wash facility, and a new building for our Westside LIFT service.

The $13.5 million project is made possible by federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Merlo Bus Facility is where TriMet’s Westside bus lines are fueled and washed each day and has been in failing condition for many years. This project will construct a new 19,000 sq. ft. facility. The Westside LIFT facility supports TriMet’s door-to-door ADA service. The current LIFT building is leased, and the building owner's desire is to use this building. TriMet will construct a new 4,700 sq. ft. building for its Westside administration functions. Construction of both buildings will take approximately one year to complete.

Wednesday, February 17, 9 a.m.

Merlo Bus Facility

16130 SW Merlo Rd.

Beaverton, OR 97006

Creation of ‘Eco-Districts’ to Give Portland a Boost

A recent special supplement in the Daily Journal of Commerce featured Energy and how an upcoming pilot program will add eco-districts to five area in Portland, creating a model for sustainability and growth.  GreenWorks' Principal Mike Faha was a panelist at the Portland Architecture + Design Festival weighing in on the concept of eco-districts and their community impact, see the full article below: Creation of 'eco-districts to give Portland a boost


By Melody Finnemore

For the DJC

Urban proverb: New York is a city with a park in the center. Portland is a park with a city in the center.

In the 1980s, when Mike Houck began leading Portland's effort to incorporate parks, trails, greenspaces and natural resources as a centerpiece of urban planning, city leaders told him there was no room for nature within a bustling metropolitan area.

How times have changed. Portland Mayor Sam Adams has created a technical advisory committee and a "sub cabinet" to explore how the city can implement neighborhood-scale green redevelopment that has minimal environmental impact while fostering vibrant communities with access to an array of manmade and natural amenities.

In other words, continue Portland's momentum as a city that grows around a thriving system of parks, trails, greenspaces and natural resources.

The redevelopment concept of eco-districts and the ways in which it furthers energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reductions and other sustainability practices was the topic of a recent panel discussion during the portland Architecture + Design Festival. The month-long festival, held in October, was sponsored by the American Institute of Architects Oregon chapter.

Panel participants included Houck, executive director of Portland's Urban Greenspaces Institute; Rob Bennett, executive director of the Portiand+Oregon Sustainability Institute (P+OSl); Carrie Schilling, principal at Works Partnership Architecture; Johanna Brickman, associate partner at Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects; and Mika Faha, principal at GreenWorks, a landscape architecture and environmental design firm.

Bennett has worked closely with Adams through a public-private partnership formed to promote the redevelopment concept. Along with P+OSI and the city, the partnership includes the Portland Development Commission, Metro, Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (BEST), and the local real estate, design, and construction industries.

The mayor's work groups are charged with exploring regulatory reform analysis and recommendations for zoning, building codes, fees and incentives this month. By next month, those regulatory changes will be introduced for adoption to the City Council. And, over the next three years, pilot projects will transform five highly visible areas into model eco-districts.

The five pilot districts are Portland State University, South Waterfront, Lloyd District, Gateway and Lents. The focus was on districts that already had been developed rather than "shiny new examples," Bennett said, adding eco-districts are just as feasible for industrial areas as they are for mixed-use neighborhoods.

The high-performing, green districts are designed to bring together residents, businesses, utilities and other groups to create and manage their own energy and wastewater systems, saving money and creating better places to live and work.

Eco-district redevelopment goals are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, ensure that water is safe and clean, preserve and restore land, build healthy communities and ecosystems, and create green jobs.

District-scale, energy-efficiency measures, and renewable and low­carbon energy production are key components of the eco-districts concept. Neighborhood energy savings are achieved through passive building design, equipment efficiency and renewable district energy generation.

However, success in this area depends on, among other things, the creation of new financing tools such as energy-efficiency utility districts to fund building retrofits. Oregon's environmental quality, energy and economic development departments have been called upon to provide technical assistance, tax-credit financing, loans and other support.

Along with reduced energy consumption and gains in renewable energy production, eco­districts feature multimodal transportation that prioritizes transit, cycling and walking as well as the preservation of affordable family housing that promotes livable and resilient neighborhoods. Eco-districts also provide a new perspective on storm water and potable water management, Schilling said.

"Current city regulations say to deal with storm water only on your own site, but eco-districts provide an opportunity to create a deliberate collective plan and connect to a larger infrastructure," she said.

Eco-districts also help promote ~ the concept of storm water as a resource to be used rather than something to be disposed of, Bennett added. Green infrastructure is at the heart of the eco-district strategy, and site design integrates biologists, ecologists, landscape architects, architects and engineers, he said.

Faha noted that eco-districts create the chance to achieve greater connectivity among city parks outside the downtown core as well as connecting open spaces with schools, daycare facilities and recreation centers. Such integrated resource planning not only benefits communities, but also would help the city, county and state save money through cost sharing, he said.

Portland’s Green Streets Network and Street Design

GreenWorks' Principal Mike Faha collaborated with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services' Dave Elkin to lead a Green Street tour last week for the Congress for the New Urbanism.  The tour highlighted GreenWorks green street projects' design, implementation, and policies and codes that govern them.  For more information visit

"Tour 1: Portland’s Green Streets Network and Street Design"

The Congress for the New Urbanism’s “Project for Transportation” has long promoted humane, multi-modal, narrower streets and complete networks through its collaborations with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and International Code Council. Attempts to establish a national initiative in support of green streets, or streets that reduce environmental impacts, has been disappointingly slow for advocacy groups aiming to push the initiative into the mainstream. Multi-benefit streets have been most successfully implemented at the local level by a handful of cities. Portland is one of these, and since beginning design and construction of green streets in 2003, Portland now has roughly 700 public and private green streets--streets that reduce stormwater run-off and improve water quality. Over the next 10 years, the City is planning to install 500 more green streets. The numerous green streets in Portland are part of a 20-year plan to reduce overflow into the Willamette River and Columbia Slough. Portland’s green streets are designed for all contexts, from neighborhood residential areas to central business districts. Learn about green streets’ design and implementation challenges from one of Portland’s leading landscape architects. Learn about the policies and codes that govern them from representatives of the city’s environmental and transportation agencies.
The tour will be led by Mike Faha, ASLA, LEED AP, Principal, GreenWorks PC; David Elkin, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, and Portland Bureau of Transportation."

Click on the gallery below to learn more about the tour and the projects featured:

[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="4"]

Portland Eco-districts: A Natural Future


Mike Faha, GreenWorks Principal, recently participated in an AIA panel discussing Portland Eco-districts as part of the Portland Architecture and Design Festival.

"Portland Eco-districts: A Natural Future" explored Portland's newly created Eco-districts, how they work, and what work is being done throughout the Portland region.  The discussion also explored the extent we can go to create an idealistic future plan for Portland.  The panel included Architects, Landscape Architects, and Urban Designers.

For more information about the Portland Architecture and Design Festival visit