Riverdale Grade School Final Walk Through Complete

Last week GreenWorks made their final walk through at the new Riverdale School campus, the new development of a 45,000 square foot state-of-the-art, two-story education facility for grades K-8, including approximately 24 classrooms. The project incorporates sustainable site practices and LEED design. In addition to a new education facility, the project provides improved child safety, bus routing, parking and parent drop-off areas as well as a central courtyard for outdoor play and environmental learning areas.

Stormwater Features Completed at Beverly Cleary School

As a Landscape Architect at GreenWorks, I get the chance to work on projects for many local public schools. I am often amazed at how much Portland area students know about rainwater. To some of them the terms rain garden, infiltration, and combined sewer are household words. A few years ago, in a 5th grade class, I lead a discussion on the effects of urban development on stormwater and how increased impervious surfaces speed up and pollute our water . I was barraged with questions about why we continue to let this happen and why someone is not doing more about it. It seems the work of local designers, environmentalists and agencies was not enough for them. It’s refreshing to see this type of concern and curiosity in young people. It inspires me to continue to work with schools. The school community at Beverly Cleary School in NE Portland was inspired to develop a project that improved their schools effects on urban stormwater.  It took some determination.  They built and planted a swale at their school in the spring of 2006, but the downspouts were never disconnected to feed into the swale.

Recently, a dedicated parent with the support of the school community fostered the project through to completion. GreenWorks donated design and consulting services for the swale and most recently for design of the downspout disconnects. In addition to the downspout design, GreenWorks collaborated with students to measure the soil’s infiltration rate, and helped with contractor coordination during construction. The highlight of the project is the pouring downspout bucket. See it in action below. This living science lab is now open for exploration and learning by the school’s students!


Michelle Mathis is a Landscape Architect at GreenWorks with 8 years of experience.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture, and has a Master’s in Education from Portland State University.

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.

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.

Hood River School Receives Recognition in Portland Monthly

As Hood River School District completes upgrades and building additions to several schools this fall, Hood River Middle school receives recognition for its LEED improvements. (See link to full article below.) In response to a successful bond measure the Hood River School District has been upgrading, renovating and building additions to their elementary, middle and high schools. GreenWorks helped retrofit existing sites and create new spaces and learning landscapes. Site improvements include plazas, playgrounds, stormwater facilities, outdoor classrooms, performance/ amphitheater spaces, learning gardens and associated landscapes. The site work carefully incorporates the needs of students and how they experience, use and enjoy a site while balancing safety, maintenance and character. GreenWorks services included schematic design, construction documents, specifications, LEED documentation, bidding assistance and construction administration.


For more information visit:  http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/home-and-garden/articles/leed-school-0910/

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.

Have a wildly fun and safe Labor Day Weekend.

Da Vinci Arts Middle School Awarded LEED Platinum

Da Vinci Arts Middle School was awarded LEED Platinum this week for the Evans-Harvard High Performance Classroom. This prestigious certification makes Da Vinci the first LEED Platinum public school building in the United States. The LEED Platinum certification complements GreenWorks' portfolio integrating sustainability and high environmental standards not only as a professional standard but to serve as a teaching tool within the school system.

You can check out more information about the project and the certification on the Portland Public Schools website: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/facilities/3329.htm

Greenies give back for Earth Day

To celebrate Earth Day 2010, GreenWorks continued its annual tradition of volunteering within the Portland community.  This year staff pitched in at one of its project sites, Da Vinci Arts Middle School, by weeding and caring for several sites within the campus including the water garden and stormwater system.

The Daily Journal of Commerce was there to capture the event, you can check out more Earth Day photos on their website at:http://djcoregon.com/news/2010/05/06/late-earth-day/

Green Schools Trend Building Movement

Sustainability in educational facilities has been building movement in schools across the Pacific Northwest over the past decade.  Several design firms including GreenWorks have been working toward integrating sustainability in schools not only to set an example of high environmental standards but to serve as a teaching tool for students to learn the value of sustainable thinking.  A recent DJC article highlights this trend with several schools in Oregon and Washington, including Da Vinci Arts Middle School, for which GreenWorks designed  the site work for a modular 21st century classroom that serves as a study model for the school district. GreenWorks continues to work with Science teacher Jason Hieggeokein creating a tree sink project on site. The project will demonstrate the carbon sinking effects of trees in an artistic and inviting way. Inviting the students to explore nature further.

“Unless you can see it and touch it, you don’t understand how it works,” Weekes said. “Seventy percent of students are visual. Having these systems exposed shows there is more to a building than the rooms they happen to occupy. Then you can apply those lessons to math, science and physics in their curriculum.”

Science teacher Jason Hieggeoke uses Da Vinci Arts Middle School’s stormwater treatment garden as a learning tool for his science classes. (Photo by Dan Carter/DJC)

Science teacher Jason Hieggeoke uses Da Vinci Arts Middle School’s stormwater treatment garden as a learning tool for his science classes. (Photo by Dan Carter/DJC)

That is what science teacher Jason Hieggeoke has been doing at Da Vinci Arts Middle School. He has used a water garden, which drains storm water, as a living laboratory.

“There aren’t many special places for kids in schools, and this is one of them,” Hieggeoke said. “We do water quality testing and look for invertebrates. We care for the garden so they learn about conservation. Sometimes they will see the pipes and ask where they are coming from, which gives me the opportunity to explain the storm-water system to them.”

See the full article on the DJC website at:  http://djcoregon.com/news/2010/03/30/green-schools-designed-to-catch-students-eyes/

GreenWorks has worked with a number of teachers and classrooms across Oregon to help incorporate learning landscapes into their schools. Projects include stormwater,  gardens,  native restoration, outdoor classrooms and natural play areas. If your school is heading in this direction and looking for a little design guidance we would love to hear from you.

On the Boards: Lane Community College


"Lane Community College in Eugene will have a new look after its new LCC Health and Wellness Center, designed by SRG Partnership, is connected to the existing campus. Landscape architects at GreenWorks PC are performing a redesign of the college’s main entrance to accomplish this. The current entrance offers no visual or physical access to the north part of the campus, according to project manager Robin Craig. Architects were tasked with creating a more visually appealing and welcoming entrance to the campus. “The new opening, ADA-accessible path and native garden allow a visual connection to the north campus,” said Craig, who worked with partner Ron Tendick on the entrance design. “This is a way to combine and coordinate the two halves of the west entry into a welcoming entrance.” The new ADA-compliant design removes ramps, walkways and oversized plantings in favor of native plantings, such as grasses and low ground cover, and a garden with seating and views of nearby Moonshadow Mountain. “The native discovery garden is an artful way of creating a welcoming entrance,” said Craig. “It’s used in a nontraditional manner, and allows students and faculty to discover native plantings.” The $479,000 project is scheduled to be built once federal stimulus funding comes through. Horticulturist Frank Drengacz also helped with the coordination of the project."

From the DJC, July 6, 2009 by Nathalie Weinstein

DaVinci School in NY Times

A recent blog post from the NY Times showed "A prototype green classroom addition under construction at the Da Vinci Arts Middle School in Portland, Ore. includes natural daylighting, passive heating and cooling systems, solar roof tiles and other green features that yield a 70 percent efficiency improvement over Oregon building code requirements."


:: image via NY Times Blog

The project by SRG Partnership and the University of Oregon’s Energy Studies in Buildings Lab was aided by pro-bono services from GreenWorks for site improvements and land use issues. Read the full NYT post about this innovative project here, as well as some additional local coverage in the DJC here.