Couch Park Inclusive Playground

Scores of Portlanders surround children and public officials at the Couch Park Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Kids on a group swing at the Couch Park grand Opening

Couch Park is located in the Historic Alphabet District in NW Portland. Sharing ownership with Portland Public Schools, the park is the official home of Metropolitan Learning Center’s playground. The park also has a large 10,000 sf plaza that is an abandoned Right-of-Way that is used as a major North-South pedestrian thoroughfare. Finally, there are the rolling, grassy berms and pathways surrounded by a dense canopy of trees that make up the remainder of the park. The re-design of the plaza and playground was the highest priority and most costly of all the 2016 Bond Projects dedicated to refurbishing aging parks and playgrounds in Portland. 

The old wood playground structure beloved by the MLC students was removed in 2015 due extensive structural rot and multiple hazards. The plaza was no longer ADA accessible due the the humps and bumps from differential settlement between concrete bands and brick pavers. The plaza and playground had old trees, some that were in poor conditions, others that would present challenges for designing and construction around without serious impacts.

The playground, Portland’s first inclusive playground on the west side, is designed for kids of all ages and abilities and is a true hybrid of natural elements and factory built play equipment.  The focal point being a fort on a mound that skirts between large trees to make kids feel like they are in a tree fort, is by far the coolest thing in the playground that kids will use as a centerpiece to create their own adventures and games.

The design for the plaza and playground are within the same footprint as the previous spaces as required by the language of the bond. The plaza’s bold paving patterns are based on the historic grid of bricks and concrete bands but use different textures of concrete to replicate the  historic paving pattern. 

A distinguishing characteristic of the design is demonstrated in the forward thinking of incorporating sustainable stormwater practices into parks and urban plazas. The design showcases vegetated stormwater planters as a primary space maker verses pushing them to the side to inconsequential spaces as mandatory minimum add-ons. The flow through planters define the circulation zones, separate the playground from the plaza, create edges for sitting, and provide a healthy splash of color to a very urban neighborhood. 

Mirror Pond Bank and Trail Improvements

GreenWorks with sub-consultants, Inter-fluve, Inc and HDR, are working with Bend Park and Recreation District (District) on the Mirror Pond Trail and Bank Improvement Project. In 2013, GreenWorks worked on a Visioning Plan for Mirror Pond from the Galveston Bridge downstream to the Portland Bridge including both sides of the river. In early 2017, the GreenWorks team moved forward with design to repair failing systems along the river, connect and extend the Deschutes River Trail, address ADA, mobility and access and create and enhance habitat.  

Mirror pond from air with bend and pilot butte in background


The project site is in the heart of downtown Bend and spans from Drake Park through private land to Pacific Park along the right bank of the Mirror Pond and the Deschutes River. Drake Park is a popular downtown community gathering place and is highly used by floaters, runners, cyclists, pedestrians and others. There are user conflicts between floaters and pedestrians and cyclists and pedestrians.  Drake Park, on the upstream end, is also the hop-out site to take the River Shuttle. Due to the high traffic, GreenWorks is designing a large waiting plaza with restrooms and benches across from the shuttle parking. In addition, the team is working to expand and enhance the beach, making this location a more enjoyable and safe location for users. 


There are sections along Drake Park that preclude cyclists, strollers and wheel chairs as well as areas where there are user conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. The GreenWorks team has creatively designed an accessible route to connect the Deschutes River Trail from Pioneer Park downstream through Pacific Park where it meanders on back surface streets until it reaches a new boardwalk at Newport Bridge. The boardwalk will span from Newport Bridge along the edge of Mirror Pond to the plaza in the center of Drake Park. Once users get to the plaza, there will be spilt in the trail, cyclists will traverse toward the road and meet back with the original alignment of the DRT and pedestrians will along the water edge. 


Banks along the river are eroding and there is constant maintenance. The GreenWorks team along with stakeholders worked together to determine that the banks were not to be armored with rip rap but where to address erosion as well as create habitat. The solution involves the removal of the concrete cap on top of the wall, deconstruction of banks and reuse the rock in place, adding large wood a few strategic locations as well as riparian plantings. In two sections of the project where the large wood will be located, split rail fence will be installed to deter the trampling of vegetation that will allow for the vegetation to remain in place for the enhancement and creation of habitat.  


Currently, GreenWorks is beginning to move the design from 30% to 100% and eventually through construction. 

Khunamokwst Park

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Khunamokwst Park is a new park in the Cully neighborhood. As one of the most economically and racially diverse neighborhoods in Portland, the project required an approach to public involvement that was broad, innovative and inclusive. In addition to the development of a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and open houses, outreach was extensive and included diverse stakeholders and community members. For each engagement activity, materials were bilingual, a Spanish speaker was available, and additional outreach was done to share the designs with organizations within the Latino Community.

GreenWorks provided outreach to neighborhood children and used this project as a platform for teaching them about landscape architecture, public process, and construction. We partnered with community nonprofit organizations Verde and Hacienda’s Expresiones after-school program to engage a group of 5th, 6th and 7th graders in the process. GreenWorks received the Oregon Community Trees Organizational Award for Outreach for this project’s innovative public engagement.

This 2.5-acre park represents a new era of inclusive parks and has something for everyone. Park features include a small beginners skatepark, play areas that include traditional and nature-based play elements, interpretive art, small prefabricated restrooms, accessible looped pathway with seating areas, and flexible open space. The park includes many sustainable features, including water conservation, drought-tolerant planting design, efficient irrigation design, native or native-adaptive plant material, innovative stormwater solutions, energy efficient lights, use of recycled materials, local materials from vendors, and an eco-roof picnic shelter.

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Riverfront Connections: Lewis and Clark Festival Park

In The Dalles, East 1st Street and adjacent properties from Union Street to Laughlin Street posed unique development opportunities and design challenges within the heart of the community. The area had long been an unattractive, back alley view of the community from Interstate-84 and a neglected downtown street. The four-block long right-of-way was complicated by the adjacency of Union Pacific Railroad mainline tracks, unequal and narrow ROW widths, major elevation differences with adjacent properties, National Historic District requirements, and access issues. These challenges also offered a multitude of design opportunities for a distinctive streetscape and park redevelopment which ultimately has become a focal point for redevelopment and an invigorated downtown center. East 1st Street is now a gateway from the downtown to the Columbia Riverfront where vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic intermingles. GreenWorks and a team of engineers developed preliminary and final designs for East 1st Street streetscape, a pedestrian/bicycle under-crossing of the two mainline Union Pacific Railroad tracks, a pedestrian plaza at Washington Street, a cruise ship and public dock area connecting the City of The Dalles to the Historic Columbia River, and the iconic Lewis and Clark Festival Park. The project has served to enhance community identity and encourage economic development.

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Trillium Creek Park

Trillium Creek Park will be the first substantial neighborhood park developed in the City of Damascus. The park is within the City limits but is in the jurisdiction of North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD). 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. We received feedback on program elements in the first open house where community members could weigh in on items they thought the park should have, the top priorities included a playground, picnic shelter, and sports court. We presented three design options with varying layouts of the preferred program elements in the second open house to understand park layouts the neighborhood preferred. The final Concept Plan incorporated the desired elements in an elegant layout to preserve open space in the small one acre park

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Tryon Creek State Park Entry Improvements

GreenWorks participated in a series of volunteer design sessions, focused on improving the entry, arrival sequence and wayfinding for visitors to SW Portland’s Tryon Creek State Park.

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GreenWorks participated in a series of volunteer design sessions, focused on improving the entry, arrival sequence and wayfinding for visitors to SW Portland’s Tryon Creek State Park. In concert with Fletcher Farr Ayotte Architects, we assisted in evaluating existing circulation patterns for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who access and use the park. The result of this effort was a series of site planning and design recommendations to both Oregon Parks and Recreation Department staff and the Friends of Tryon Creek.

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