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Snøhetta unveil dramatic riverwalk design for North America's second largest waterfall

International architecture firm Snøhetta have unveiled new details of the riverwalk they are creating for North America’s second largest waterfall.

For over a century, the 42ft high Willamette Falls has been cut off from public access by industrial infrastructure built along the water’s edge. Now, new public spaces are planned to offer observation points that do justice to the height and drama of the site.

The design, which has taken two years to finalise – which was completed in collaboration with Toronto-based architects Dialog, Portland-based landscape studio Mayer/Reed and a team of engineers and hydrologists – has been subject to a lengthy public engagement process.

The design team have treated the whole 22 hectare site as a single landscape, “with a network of promenades and lofted pathways that lace through the physical strata of the site, immersing visitors in a tactile experience that celebrates the changing water level, the feeling of the spray on your skin, the dramatic play of light and the roar and presence of the falls.”

The riverwalk, conceived as a series of islands with three main lookout stations, will begin at the entrance to Oregon City’s historic downtown and end at the crest of the falls themselves. Describing the concept, Snøhetta said they are creating “an archipelago carved from ancient basalt and industrial steel, concrete, and wood alike.”

Several of the old factory buildings on the site – including a paper mill, woollen mill and historic boiler complex – will be opened up and integrated with the walkway to chart the industrial history of the Pacific Northwest. The entire attraction will be built to withstand and accommodate regular flooding and seismic activity.

Construction at Willamette Falls is due to begin in June 2018. A model of the riverwalk design will go on public display tomorrow (3 June).

Snøhetta  North America  architecture  design  riverwalk  Willamette Falls  
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FEATURE: Movers & Shakers – Kjetil Trædal Thorsen

International architecture firm Snøhetta have unveiled new details of the riverwalk they are creating for North America’s second largest waterfall. For over a century, the 42ft high Willamette Falls has been cut off from public access by industrial infrastructure built along the water’s edge. Now, new public spaces are planned to offer observation points that do justice to the height and drama of the site. The design, which has taken
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For over a century, the Willamette Falls has been cut off from public access by industrial infrastructure built along the water’s edge / Snøhetta
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