Washington / Jefferson Skatepark and Urban Plaza


I recently organized a tour of the brand new Washington Jefferson Skatepark and Urban Plaza.  It was organized for the local AIA Design Spring (emerging professionals) group as one of their monthly events.  Thanks go out to Dwayne Strickland, project manager from 2G construction for scheduling and agreeing to do the tour, Adam Steffen of the City of Eugene for providing detailed information about the process and for providing the links to the drawings and pictures, and to Emily Proudfoot of the City of Eugene for providing the background and history of the project.   

Eugene Parks and Open Space partnered with Downtown Rotary and SES to create and 18,000+ square foot skatepark facility in Washington-Jefferson Park.  It is the largest covered and lit skatepark in the region, allowing year round skating opportunities.  The park is expected to be heavily used locally by after school instructional programs and has the support of School District 4J, Eugene City Council, County Commissioners, ODOT, and more than 1,700 local petitioners who have passionately advocated for the skatepark since the early stages in 2004.

Designed by Dreamland Skateparks, and the City of Eugene, the park is unique opportunity to locally view a great example of some complex concrete shapes and extensive concrete finishing techniques.  The tour was organized for the opportunity to ask questions about how architects and designers can facilitate and deliver designs for complex concrete work and what techniques contractors are using to create various levels of finishes for concrete.

What we learned:

  • Existing on site was an old wooden playground that went largely unused due to its age and the previous seedy nature of the site
  • Drainage work was a driving force behind the project.  The skatepark drains tie into the overpass drainage at the base of the overpass support columns.  This junction box was left in place due to ODOT not wanting it affected.  Thus the junction box dictated the maximum depth any of the concrete bowls could go.
  • Electrical hub:  The brains behind the whole of the Washington Jefferson park electrical systems was located where the park was to go.  Thus major work was involved in re-routing all of the electrical wiring to a new control hub located in the bath pavilion.  The pavilion also contains some storage for both the skatepark and horseshoe park.
  • Dreamland design build:  The city of Eugene produced construction document for the project, but the concrete bowls were constructed largely in a design / build fashion by Dreamland.  Dreamland is a design build company comprise of skateboarders who build skateparks.  Construction documents laid out overall depth, coping heights, and one or two cross sections for each bowl.  Transitions between bowls were completed on site by the construction team
  • Shotcrete:  All of the skate park proper was completed using shotcrete.  This facilitated limited amounts of formwork as the builders compacted the banks, laid the rebar, placed the coping, and created screed boards.  Shotcrete with a low slump was then shot in and finishing took place immediately.
  • Finishing:  Finishing was completed with a variety of hand built trowels and floats.  The concrete was steeled smooth and sealed for water protection.  The finish is glossy smooth.


Finished project a few days before the opening:

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Opening Day:   The park opened on Friday, April 4th and by my standards it was a success.  Check out some pictures from the first hour of opening.


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Again, a special thanks to:

Below are links provided by Adam Steffen for more information about the project:

Dining Room Table

New Dining Room Table


I recently completed work on a new dining room table for our house!  I have included some pictures and information about the changes.

Summary:  The table is made completely from Douglas-fir ( pseudotsuga menziesii ).  It is constructed with wood joinery and glue, excepting the table top connection to the base.  The table to base connection is made with screws in order to facilitate dis-assembly during transport.

The table began its journey as a tree in our backyard.  The doug-fir was competing for space and light with a large pin oak.  In consultation with arborists and native plant experts, it was decided to remove the doug-fir in order to save the oak.  Native plant experts determined that neither species should be considered since pin-oak is not native to Oregon and doug-fr is native to the slopes of hills and mountains, but not to valley floors.  As such, the arborists pointed out that due to the nature of the fir / oak positioning, the oak had been shielding the fir from winds.  Removal of the oak would have resulted in the doug-fir toppling in a heavy wind due to the loose valley dirt it grew in as well as the non-symmetrical nature of the fir branches.

During removal of the fir, I requested that the lowest portion of the trunk be cut into two 8′ long sections.  These trunk sections aged in our backyard for a year, with the bark on and the ends sealed.  At 1 year, I had the logs milled locally at Urban Lumber in Springfield, OR.  They then sat stickered and covered in a building in Chiloquin, OR where they dried a further 6 months.

During all this wait time, I slowly thought about and drew up a design for the table.  I then spend 2 periods of 4 days (8 days total) working to plane the wood, cut the parts, assemble the base and top, and sand and seal the entire piece.

Tree cutting in the backyard:   Trunk diameters of both trees app 30″ at base.  Tree bases at app 4′ on center apart from one another.

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Logs milled at Urban Lumber:


In process photo:  Showing the base glue-up.   Later, the initial top to base fitting.

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Completed table photos:

The table legs are designed with wide legs for support that taper and are hollowed in the non-structural middle to elevate and lighten the look of the heavy 3″ thick top.  The top is meant to withstand dancing on!  Cross beam a the bottom add stability against racking and a foot rest.  All wood is douglas-fir and has only been stained or treated differently for contrast and to highlight the elements.

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Zion Visitors Center



Last Spring, I was fortunate to visit Zion National Park and besides the wonderful natural scenery I was also captivated by their main visitors center.

Completed in 2000, and designed by National Park Service architects located out of the Denver Service Center, the building nestles into its gorgeous environment and becomes a part of the regional ecology better than most any other building I have seen.

Design Features:


*   Keeping as much of the existing landscape as possible.  This results in more dispersed programmatic functions which has the secondary effect of allowing large numbers of visitors to occupy the center without creating a crowded feeling.  You don’t feel rushed to get through, but rather are given the time to learn and explore.

*   Mixing of programmatic functions, information, signage both indoors and into the landscape.  What better way to teach visitors about the park landscape than to allow them to directly interact with it while reading and learning, rather than looking only at displays in an otherwise enclosed indoor space.


*  A major feature in the landscape is the use of evaporative cooling via streams that intertwine through the visitors center and associated parking lots.  The low humidity, hot summer climate makes evaporative cooling a perfect choice to keep the micro-climate moderated.


*  Evaporative cooling comes into play in a major way in the buildings themselves.  Large cooling towers are a major and pronounced feature.  They draw air in through the top and as it meets water, it cools and drops down the tower exiting out the vents at the bottom.  The towers are positioned in the building strategically to allow the towers to vent both to the indoor space and the outdoor courtyards.  Credit to the designers here for making them a major feature rather than trying to conceal them behind other parts of the building.  The vents of the towers are able to be closed when, during cold or cool weather they are not needed.


*  The Zion canyon is not always hot, so for those cold winter days, the architects incorporated south facing trombe walls.  These walls absorb daytime heat and slowly bleed off that heat to the interior spaces through the afternoon and into the night.

Also incorporated into the design are other great features:

*  Ample amounts of natural daylighting (aka, windows), which allows views out to the beautiful landscape and also reduce electricity consumption through less artificial lighting.

* Significant use of local natural materials.  The stone and wood can’t help but evoke and compliment the natural surroundings.  The building is not there to draw your attention away from the landscape, but to compliment it.

For more information:

See this pamphlet produced by the DOE NREL.  DOE Brochure

New Backyard Wood Fence

New Backyard Wood Fence


I recently completed work on the new fence in our backyard!  I have included some pictures and information about the changes.


We discovered that the location of the chain link fence had been incorrectly placed back in the 1970’s.  We had the back line surveyed and a report created by a surveyor to give to the property owner of the apartment complex behind us.  The apartment owner worked with us (he could have challenged us on it based on the longevity of the fence location) and we came to an agreement whereby we could push back the fence-line as long as we used the chain link fence to do so.  This created a problem for us as one of the main motivations for us to change the fence was to not look at the chain link fence.  Thus the end result is a few more feet of backyard and a double fence line.  Apologies in advance to the kids who’s play toys get stuck between the fences!

The fence is constructed from horizontal 2x cedar material attached to 4×4 cedar posts.  We have glass caps on the tops and decorative cross pieces on top that have become a bit of a theme in our yard structures.

Before, During and After images from a similar vantage:


In process photo:  showing the horizontal board construction


Completed fence photos:


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IMG_3979… someone likes it already!!