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Pacific Spirit

Headline: Giving the second largest waterfall by volume in the United States a second life…  

Oregon City

City to Falls Connection

Located at the end of Main Street in Oregon City, Willamette Falls is currently dead-ended and cut off from the rest of the City. This project, that seeks to open the spirit of the Falls to public access, encompasses the industrial site of the Blue Heron Paper Mill, which was shuttered in a bankruptcy in 2011, and Oregon City’s ghosted historic downtown.

A Catalyst for a New Era

The shoreline here was once the epicentre of cultural and economic activity of Oregon City. The site is viewed as a catalytic step in enriching the community, and as the place for visitors to discover the full height of the Falls and its rugged shoreline. This adaptive-reuse project aims to reconnect the city to the waterfront, and the spectacular views of the falls. It will lay down the next historic layer - an experiential riverwalk that foretells a story of renewed economy, environmental sensitivity, and historic importance.

A Sequence of Islands

Riverwalk will serve as a portal to the Northwest’s collective history, reviving a former industrial site through its aggregated layers of natural, ecological, cultural, and geological history. Conceived as a sequence of islands, an archipelago carved from ancient basalt and industrial steel, concrete, and wood alike. The new design treats the whole site as a single landscape, with a network of promenades and lofted pathways that lace through the physical strata of the site. Thereby immersing visitors in a tactile experience that celebrates the changing water levels.

Ecological Vitality

The selective removal of industrial structure will restore healthy animal and plant habitats within the retained structures and on the basalt bedrock of the site, establishing an ecological vitality unique to the site and in service to endangered wildlife species. New public gathering space will anchor the site as a civic heart of downtown, offering key opportunities for events and redevelopment that will drive economic renewal.

Project facts

Partner Firms: Snøhetta & Mayer-Reed
Size: 22 acres

Achievements & Awards

ASLA-NY Design Award