Landscape Architecture: Walker Macy

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Landscape Architecture firm Walker Macy in Portland. It was part of a Shadow Mentor program, which I was super (duper) excited to be a part of. These guys are amazing. Seriously, their firm is collaborative and their designs are... well, take a look for yourself. (These are just a few of their works, you should definitely check out their website:
Bellevue Towers in Portland, OR
Cyan/PDX in Portland, OR

South Waterfront Park in Portland, OR

Waterfront Park at Ankeny Plaza in Portland, OR
They have a plethora of projects that they've completed and some that they are continuing to design. Some of which, I got to experience first hand. 
They took me down to one of their waterfront projects first.
It looks directly onto the Willamette River. Even under construction, this project is pretty amazing.

Then we took a walk down the street and passed this great little park (not their design, but the aesthetic is quite similar)

And went to the top of the OHSU Center for Healing (after getting lost and stopping on every floor of the building) to see this gorgeous rooftop healing garden.

If you want to visit this one, go to the 4th floor. 
I just love the texture of the exposed steel planters. Definitely a favorite design element for me, it gives off a rustic charm and elegance all at the same time. I like my materials contradictory like that.

To get the reality of working in a Landscape Architecture firm, they put me to work after we ate lunch. 
I sat down at my very own desk and got handed a large sheet with an AutoCAD drawing on it. 
It was my duty to sketch out a concept for a new Elementary school design they were developing. I worked on my trace for an hour and a half, coming up with some variation of designs. It felt marvelous to actually sit down, get on a project, and pump out my ideas. I'd done it before in my experience being an intern, but this, this was a new experience with getting a design out. I could do whatever I wanted (that was within the design boundaries and restrictions) and when it was over, I had a professional looking over my shoulder, critiquing my work. When I finally sat down with Shawn, one of the designers in who was mentoring me, I was able to explain the reasoning behind my design. The best part? The design that I had drafted was very similar to the one they had formally drawn up! Even better? Shawn kept my concept sketch for future ideas! I was beyond flattered. To have him consider me as another professional really reinforced my own professional opinion of my work. 
Then, the worst: putting together a bid. I got to add up every area of material that we proposed and add it into a final budget. Luckily Shawn took pity on me and took me out of the office on a tour.

In the afternoon, we went on a quick trip downtown to see Pioneer Courthouse Square, the project that got Walker Macy on the public's radar. This has been one of their most successful projects. It's amazing, and faintly reminiscent of European plazas.

And believe me when I say downtown Portland has the charm that is lacking in most large cities. It makes me want to settle in here for a moment and enjoy the ride.
This was one of my favorite moments.
I love vintage neon.

From there, we made a trip down to the waterfront, once again. This time to Ankeny Plaza.

Along the way, there was this adorable floating museum, that one day, I will be visiting. It's on the books now. It was a complete paddle boat, which I have always wanted to explore. Can you imagine the parties you could host on this thing? (I'm on a boat, b!)

Then, (boom!) we got upclose and personal with Ankeny Plaza. This is definitely a must see for design lovers. The details in the structure and the water features (even though they weren't going that day) were impressive. I'd love to come when the farmer's market is all set up here. 

Also, notice the cloud face. Creepy, right?

And, another picture of a bridge. Although, it's safe to say that this one is probably my favorite.

And to finish up the day, we ran back to the office and got in on a quick design charette for one of Walker Macy's current design projects. 

Are these graphics not impressive? This is a SKETCH, people. Sketch. I'm impressed. And forever impacted for the better. 
Walker Macy is impressive and a must know design firm in Portland. You should check out their other work and visit this projects (they've done some amazing projects along the Columbia and all over the Western states). Seriously worth it. 


Jane Droll said...

dude! what an awesome, amazing, awe-inspiring experience!!! i hope you get to work there someday!!!!!

p.s. those killer planters remind me of richard serra sculptures! that is a huge compliment!

Henderson said...

A formal garden involves a really ordered arrangement with neat straight lines. the character of such clean lines and shut knit plants can bring plenty of labor to stay them wanting pristine. Conversely, informal gardens have rounded borders and a lot of loosely planted vegetation.