Preliminary planning for the Asante Health System Genesis Campus in Central Point, Oregon, a retrofit of an existing building to house the adminstration staff for the hospital. Working with TVA Architects, the site planning incorporated the addition of new building structures and remodel of existing buildings to create new entries and enclosed courtyards. Moving the existing park back away from the edge of the buildings allows for the buildings to sit in a landscaped plane as the landscape provides an extension of the architectural elements. New entry circles provide an arrival experience, and parking areas are provided for visitors and staff – with a series of stormwater swales to provide treatment of runoff from impervious surfaces. Public spaces include a central courtyard, and smaller plaza spaces incorporated adjacent to meeting rooms to allow activities to spill out into the landscape. A perimeter trail provides a walking respite, providing a loop through the entire site.
I had the recent opportunity to swing by an project (designed in 2009 while at GreenWorks) for the rain garden gateway along Warner-Milne Road in Oregon City, Oregon – which was installed last year. A new roadway alignment created a wide area between the existing right-of-way and the new curb, allowing for the integration of a large green street feature to manage impervious surfaces. In addition to the stormwater function, the location on one of the main roadways through Oregon City gave it the potential to act as a gateway for the municipal offices nearby. Congrats to the City of Oregon City, GreenWorks PC, and Wallis Engineering for realizing this exciting project.
The implementation of large corten panels acted as vertical elements that were legible from the adjacent pedestrian and vehicular users.
These curving walls gave shape to the sinuous vegetated garden area, punctuated by arching stone weirs with two different gravel types delineating low and high flow conditions.
Project Credit: GreenWorks PC, Wallis Engineering
Photos: Jason King
TERRA.fluxus is happy to provide pro-bono assistance for the CAPACES Leadership Institute project in Woodburn, Oregon. The project stems from the work of the group PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste) or the Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United, and continue their mission for farmworker rights, helping to: “build the leadership capacity and political consciousness to sustain and expand that movement and to propel a host of related struggles, such as immigrants’ rights.” The new building, constructed by local folks along with sustainable building firm Green Hammer, from Portland, will be a model of sustainability, with a goal of green building but also an aim to engage the larger community in training opportunities for green building. Read more about the project here.
We endeavor to assist with the design, detailing and implementation of the 3000 s.f. ecoroof, which will cap a ultra-efficient building designed and constructed using the Passivhaus principles. In addition to aiding in implementation of the roof, we are developing a strategy for training by creating a strategy for local community volunteers to propogate plants, including a number of succulant species – growing the plants on-site which will be later used on the project in the form of plugs and cuttings. An early view of the extent of the green roof is found below:
More info soon as this project kicks off!
(images via PCUN website)
As part of Ecoroof Month, the members of Green Above Ground, along with the Bureau of Environmental Services, gave a tour of some of the area green roofs. Starting in South Waterfront, the group assembled at the Ardea, which gave a wide view of a range of local projects – encompassing extensive, semi-intensive and intensive roof terrace typologies. (note: TERRA.fluxus was not the designer on these projects, but other team members worked in various capacities on this work). The photos show some of the views and the array of vegetated options.
We moved up to OHSU, where we looked at the skybridge project installed in 2010, then headed up to the Child Development Research Center, a project designed by TERRA.fluxus and installed late in 2010 by Snyder Roofing and Teufel Landscape. Participants got to see newly planted cuttings, and learn about the capillary irrigation and unique design concepts of this 6000 s.f. project.
Another tour is scheduled for projects in the Pearl District this week on Tuesday, March 22nd – 1pm-4pm.
A trip to Powell’s yesterday yielded a number of fine resources for the ever-expanding library. One of note is the long-awaited publication by Ed Snodgrass and Linda McIntyre of a new resource, ‘The Green Roof Manual: A Professional Guide to Design, Installation, and Maintenance’ (Timber Press, 2010).
I spoke with Ms. McIntyre last year at length while they were in the midst of writing, and was happy to see both a reference to my Landscape Architecture editorial, as well as a nice quotation amidst the pages of the book (pages 164-165). The focus of the discussion was based on the role of design not just for aesthetics, but as part of an integrated process to generate cost effective solutions to make projects a reality:
“Landscape Architect Jason King was able to safely eliminate most of the metal edging on a project and save about $2.50 per square foot. He also tries hard to find appropriate local materials to save on transport costs, as well as for the ecological benefits. No single tweak will necessarily save a lot of money, King says, but factoring costs into decision-making throughout the process can cut the price per square foot almost in half on some project. “That can make the difference between a green roof being built or having it value engineered out of the project.”
Jason King of TERRA.fluxus will be giving a presention to the Portland Chapter of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association meeting this upcoming Wednesday, February 2nd discussing Vegitecture.
The discussion will focus on some of the history and speculation about the future of green roofs and living walls within the landscape industry – an opportunity for companies to establish an expertise in installation and maintenance in this exciting growth industry.
Meeting is at the Lucky Lab in Multnomah Village (SW Portland) – social hour at 6pm, presentation at 7pm.
TERRA.fluxus is taking part in an exciting pilot project aimed at expanding the local knowledge of habitat roofs – green roof projects designed to aid in providing for the specific elements that will attract and support urban wildlife. A project underway, as part of a collaborative project with local railcar and barge manufacturer The Greenbrier Companies, along with Andy Jansky of Flowing Solutions who tapped into the collective knowledge base of the Green Roof Info Think-tank (GRiT) to conduct research and help with design and materials procurement.
The initial project involves a 1000 s.f. structure, built in-house by the manufacturer, which will provide a platform for testing habitat potential. The goal is to install a number of habitat elements appropriate to the sites location along the Willamette River – in the northwest area of Portland that consists primarily of industrial development. The property owners on the Gunderson site aim to use this as a model for potential habitat roof implementation on a larger scale on this riverfront site. TERRA.fluxus provided a graphic of the roof – incorporating many of the habitat roof elements – such as a diversity of native vegetation, woody debris, gravel, rocks, and topographic variation.
The realization of the project will come with a group design charrette giving final shape to the roof – followed by procurement of materials and installation slated for early March. More details to come as we get into some of the innovative elements of the design and see this exciting project come to life.
Over the next week, I have been outlining some of the inspirations and precedents related to the idea of Hidden Hydrology of Portland, as this project has been shaped and has evolves across many years to it’s present incarnation. As I mentioned in the preliminary overview, one of the main inspirations was the map of ‘Disappeared Streams’ that was produced by Metro. My first encounter with this map was during a presentation at DaVinci Arts middle school, as part of the preliminary planning for what would become their beautiful water garden. At the time I was working with local non-profit Urban Water Works – and the students were showing off many of their water-related side projects, including hand-made flowforms, studies of water movement, and mapping. One student had a GIS application that was showing the disappeared streams – which has stuck in my brain every since. Metro now publishes it in map form – available at the Data Resource Center – along with many other great maps.
As I mentioned there are a few methodological caveats to this map – as it is not a historical representation of actual streams, but looking more specifically at locations of potential water routes. From the map, some of this language:
“Development patterns in the Metro region have historically resulted in piping, culverting, or filling of streams and stream beds. A computer mapping program was used to evaluate the terrain in the region, and to generate areas where major streams (those draining 50+ acres of land) may once have existed. While this does not represent an authoritative analysis, it does visually describe the effects of urbanization on the regions natural systems. This exercise indicates that an estimated 388 miles of previously existing streams are now underground.”
The coding of the map is pretty striking (the choice of ‘blood’ red I think fitting) when viewed as a whole (above) particularly noting the core area of Portland that has been denuded of streams over the course of 150 years (below, closeup of City of Portland), where flatter areas were developed for Eastside residential, and margins on the Willamette filled in for industrial development.
You can also get a close-up view,including the central business district – seen in closeup below. Notice the existing pattern, where streams are kept somewhat intact in the west hillsides (topography being somewhat of an antidote to piping), then quickly buried when they reach the urbanized area. Tanner Creek, one of the hidden streams we will be studying closer, is captured as it originates from the Oregon Zoo and cuts through the northwest corner of downtown.
A relatively simple map that is more evocative than accurate, but does much to reinforce the ideology of what is hidden beneath our developed urban areas. As I mentioned, it has stuck with me (and I’m glad Metro still has these available). One of the stronger and original inspirations for the project, it continues to entertain and inspire investigation into our hidden hydrology.
Another inspiration for the Hidden Hydrology of Portland is the writing of David James Duncan (author of a couple of my favorite books, the Brothers K amongst the best). In a book of essays from 2002 entitled ‘My Story as Told by Water‘ Duncan tells some stories with a Portland area spin about his youthful explorations in the area. The idea of oral histories providing an additional layer to mapping and other on-the-ground study is intriguing, as the narrative is both informative and evocative of what these lost urban waterways meant, and what was lost along with them.
Early in his childhood, he mentions growing up on Mount Tabor (the volcanic outgrowth in East Portland – not the biblical version, seen above between downtown and Mt. Hood in the image), and his quote worth discussing hints at the disconnect between the modern city and the natural processes which shape and feed these places:
“My birth-cone’s slopes were drained by tiny seasonal streams, which, like most of the creeks in that industrialized quadrant of Portland, were buried in underground pipes long before I arrived on the scene. … I was born, then, without a watershed. On a planet held together by gravity and fed by rain, a planet whose every creature depends on water and whose every slope works full-time, for eternity, to create creeks and rivers. I was born with neither. The creeks of my birth-cone were invisible, the river from somewhere else entirely.” (p.4)
The water system from early in Portland’s history, was stored at high points like Mount Tabor and piped to surrounding neighborhoods. This shot from 1912 shows one of the reservoirs that are still in operation today (for how long, is a good question).
The artificiality of the watershed is evident in Duncan’s discussions, as he makes do with building creeks using the hose and the power of gravity (much to his mothers chagrin) – using with water delivered to reservoirs and coming to his tap, as is common in many cities, from distant locales while burying the remnant hydrology that exists. A map of the water system shows the existing Bull Run watershed in relation to Portland.
Continuing this discussion on Johnson Creek on a youthful visit, showing the degradation of some of the existing waterways that has been occurring for many years. “It was just one of Portland’s dying creeks. Really, one with a much-needed but long-lost Indian name. Johnson Creek was now its anemic title. But it was twenty-six miles long, hence a little too big to bury.” (p.10)
It’s heartening to see the restoration of the creek, which is one of the few to remain on the east side in some natural form, through the work of a number of local groups such as the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and recently there were reports of dead coho salmon found 15 miles upstream – which is significant as it is the furthest upstream anyone has noticed these species in many years, and a testament to the work on restoration and improvement. Something Duncan would appreciate, no doubt.
While water and rivers was of importance to Duncan, the main driving force for him was fishing – which drove the explorations to the wilds of the city. After leaving Mount Tabor, the family moved further east towards Gresham, and lived for a time on Osborne Road, the future route of I-205. Duncan mentions the lure of possible fishing holes, but the inaccessibility: “A spring a quarter-mile from our new house flowed into a series of backyard trout ponds for neighbors, but these ponds were picture-windowed, guard-dogged, private. The closest fish-inhabited waters to my house, so far as I knew, were the Columbia, three miles due north.” (p.17)
The story continues around the small town of Fairview, under Halsey Street, where Duncan spotted a kid and discovered a hidden world amidst the underbrush: “…the shocking thing, the magical thing, was that he was standing knee-deep in clear, lively creek water. A creek surrounded on all sides by briars so dense I’d never noticed it before.” (p.17) Later in the same spot, he saw a guy catching a trout there “a secret trout stream” and found his new exploration spot, as mentioned “Fairview Creek, it turned out, was five miles long, two-thirds wild, and amazingly full of life.” (p.18) See the location on the far right edge as it interfaces with the Columbia Slough watershed.
Following the course, he found gravel pits headwater at Mud Lake that were stocked rainbow trout, near the Kennel Club, a pond with bullheads, and always adventure in the streams. “In the plunge-pool below the Banfield Freeway culvert, I caught a thirteen-inch Giant Pacific Salamader that stared straight into my eyes, flaring and hissing like something out of Dante Volume one, till I apologized, cut my line and released it.”
The approximate area is interesting to see and compare – although the historical imagery from Google Earth (which is awesome btw) only goes back to 1990, there’s a telling transformation in a twenty year time-span (although still a fair amount of stream left intact with development. I remember this area, as my mother used to live just North of the Salish Ponds park (south of Halsey) and we took the trails through behind the Target and over into Fairview, which is a real gem and one of those places that, like Duncan, you may walk by many times without realizing it’s there. I’ve highlighted Fairview Creek in Blue.
The same area in 1990 where you can see the residential development along Fairview Creek
The denouement to this story of youthful exploration comes after a few years of fishing these urban creeks and streams:
“At six-thirty or so on a rainy April morning, I crept up to a favorite hole, threaded a worm on a hook, prepared to case – then noticed something impossible: there was no water in the creek. …I began hiking, stunned, downstream. The aquatic insects were gone, barbershop crawdads gone, catfish, carp, perch, crappie, bass, countless sacrificial cutthroats, not just dying, but completely vanished. Feeling sick, I headed the opposte way, hiked the emptied creekbed all the way to the source, and there found the eminently rational cause of the countless killings. Development needs roads and drainfields. Roads and drainfields need gravel. Up in the gravel pits at the Glisan Street headwaters, the creek’s entire flow had been diverted for months in order to fill two gigantic new settling ponds. My favorite teacher was dead.” (p.22)
A case of disappeared streams, captured in a moment of time from someone that was there. The sadness in this loss is palpable, as it isn’t just a line on a map, but a leaving & breathing part of someone – both their history and their essence. This sort of study of writings offers many opportunities for exploration through history, and can reveal much about a place in the past. Combined with oral histories from residents and other qualitative study, it offers a dimension that maps just can’t on their own. Thus looking beyond the map to the history is vital and inspirational going forward.
(all page references are to: Duncan, David James. My Story as Told by Water. Sierra Club Books, 2002.)
As I mentioned in the previous post, there have been a number of inspirations that led to the current work on the Hidden Hydrology of Portland. I will take this week outlining a few of the past words and images that have led to the current work. A seminal work, by Anne Whiston Spirn, is part of the great book ‘The Language of Landscape‘. This particular text was adapted into a short prose piece in Arcade Journal – although I can’t seem to find the exact issue (so anyone who knows give me a heads up).
The imagery has stayed with me, and the resonance is echoed by Spirn in a different quote in the book about the revelatory power in searching for and expressing hidden hydrology: “Revealing the presence of the buried creek is an important part of the proposal because many who live here do not even know the creek exists despite its persistent influence on their lives.” (Spirn, 2000: p.213)
The Yellowwood and the Forgotten Creek
…One day the street caved in.
Sidewalks collapsed into a block-long chasm.
People looked down, shocked to see a strong, brown, rushing river.
A truck fell into a hole like that years back,
Someone said. A whole block of homes fell in
One night a long time ago, said someone else.
They weren’t sure where.
Six months later, the hole was filled, street patched,
Sidewalks rebuilt. Years went by, people left, new folks moved in,
Water seeped, streets dipped, walls cracked.
Once a creek flowed—long before there was anyone to give it a name–coursing
Down, carving, plunging, pooling, thousands of years
Before dams harnessed its power,
Before people buried it in a sewer and built houses on top.
Now, swollen with rain and sewage, the buried creek bursts pipes, soaks soil, floods basements,
Undermines buildings. During storms brown water gushes from inlets and manholes into streets and,
Downstream, overwhelms the sewage treatment plant, overflowing into the river from which the city
Draws its water…
…Signs of hope, signs of warning are all around, unseen,
Unheard, undetected. Most people can no longer read the signs whether they live in a floodplain,
Whether they are rebuilding a neighborhood or planting the seeds of its destruction,
Whether they are protecting or polluting the water they drink,
Caring for or killing a tree.
Architects’ drawings show no roots,
No growing, just green lollipops and buildings floating on a page, as if ground were flat and blank,
The tree an object, not a life.
Planners’ maps show no buried rivers, no flowing, just streets, lines of ownership, and
Proposals for future use, as if past were not present, as if the city were merely a human construct,
Not a living, changing landscape…
…Humans are story-telling animals, thinking in metaphors steeped in landscape:
Putting down roots means commitment,
Uprooting, a traumatic event.
Like a living tree rooted in place,
Language is rooted in landscape. Imagining
New ways of living means relearning the language
Which roots life in place.
The meanings landscapes hold are
Not just metaphorical and metaphysical,
But real, their messages practical;
understanding may spell survival or extinction.
Losing or failing to hear and read
the language of landscape threatens body and spirit, for the pragmatic
and imaginative aspects of landscape language
have always coexisted.
Relearning the language that holds
Life in place is an urgent task.
My work is dedicated to its recovery