Snøhetta to design public walkway at Oregon's Willamette Falls

by Jason Holland | 01 Jun 2015

A Snøhetta-led team has been chosen to create a walkway giving public access to the second largest waterfall in the US.

Toronto-based architects Dialog and Portland-based landscape studio Mayer/Reed complete the design team for the ‘Riverwalk’ portion of a revitalisation project at Willamette Falls, in Oregon City, Oregon.

Riverwalk connects the city centre to the waterfall, which will be accessible to the public for the first time in 100 years.

The design team envisions providing an “experientially-rich” walkway which amplifies the scenic beauty of the falls, while interpreting the culture and history of the site. An important gathering spot and fishing location for Native American tribes, Willamette Falls was also the location of the country’s first long-distance transmission of electricity in 1889. Thriving lumber, flour, wool and paper mills, as well as a brick-making operation, sprang up at the site throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

“We believe that the site and the history it holds is a sublime, one-of-a-kind landscape that should not be upstaged by the hand of any designer,” said Michelle Delk, director of landscape architecture at Snøhetta. “We are inspired by the complex strata of the site and its deep cultural history. By protecting, reusing, reducing, and adding, we will integrate and amplify the site’s strata into the Riverwalk.”

Snøhetta was selected following a national proposal process, in which idea boards and images demonstrated design teams’ thinking and approach to the site.

Work on the schematic design of the Riverwalk will commence this summer, although no opening date has been scheduled. The final design will be the result of a public engagement process.

Located at the end of Main Street in Oregon City, the current project site is a cluster of empty industrial buildings. City councillors expect the Willamette Falls project to generate housing and jobs, spurring economic development in the region. The project is being funded by four public sector partners and the site landowner.

Snøhetta and Mayer/Reed are also currently working on Portland’s James Beard Public Market, while Dialog and Snøhetta are collaborating on the Calgary Central Library in Alberta, Canada, which is under construction.

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A Snøhetta-led team has been chosen to create a walkway giving public access to the second largest waterfall in the US. Toronto-based architects Dialog and Portland-based landscape studio Mayer/Reed complete the design team for the ‘Riverwalk’ portion of a revitalisation project at Willamette Falls, in Oregon City, Oregon. Riverwalk connects the city centre to the waterfall, which will be accessible to the public for the first time in 100 years.
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The design team said its approach was to highlight the falls and the complex material layers of the site / Snøhetta
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