in the news (137)

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february 2018 | by susan jurasz

For over 100 years, a single-track wooden trestle linked Tacoma to the world. Built atop tidal flats with a crooked alignment in the shape of an "S", the trestle spanned a 1,500-foot gap over marshy terrain. It provided access for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road). To commemorate this trestle in it’s final year, Sea Reach Ltd. was contracted to design, build, and install exhibits in the new Sound Transit Tacoma facility.

The precise reason for the unusual S-curve is unknown, but two factors during the trestle’s construction in 1909 may have contributed. The first is geographic. The gentle S-curve may have encouraged train engineers to slow down along the steeper grade. The second, more intriguing potential, involves beer. In the late 19th century, Tacoma’s waterfront was bustling with large breweries. The Puget Sound Malting Company, among them, had recently installed a new grain elevator near the proposed rail line. It is likely to minimize costs, railroad officials opted to design the trestle with a slight deviation rather than pay the malting company to relocate their operations. In a twist of fate, the malt house burned down in September of 1909, just months after the trestle was completed. Later iterations of the trestle did not attempt to relocate the already established path of the trestle, until today: the new trestle is straight.

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1 document with 24 pages

august 2017 | by melissa boettcher

Crooked Creek Information Site in Valdez serves as a gateway to the second largest National Forest in the United States: The Chugach. Each summer, thousands of people—from Alaskans to international travelers—pass through this tiny visitor center. Our assignment was to create attractive, thematic new interpretive exhibits.

First impressions: the building is a newer log cabin set next to a stunning waterfall. The small interior is busy with hundreds of artifacts in all shapes and sizes: clearly a collection that has been gathering here over the years. A retail section appears to be too large for the number of items carried. There is a simple desk to greet visitors, and small offices for staff. The walls are lined with posters of varying ages and simple signs developed to accompany interesting "found" objects. With miscellaneous collected items, various potted plants, kid’s art projects, and a random organization, the space feels like an extension of someone’s home.

While a homey feeling can be attractive, and visitors have enjoyed the diverse objects and potpourri style, the Forest Service wanted us to re-think the approach in our new design: to take a more focused, thematic direction. Our challenge was to organize the space and create thematic exhibits to welcome and orient visitors to the Chugach NF—while also keeping some of the well-loved "legacy" elements such as curiosity cabinets and taxidermy displays.

We began by designing a multi-sided floor to ceiling cubby system with places to display large graphic panels. The cubbies have a small footprint, providing accessible artifact storage that still allows visitors room to move about the space. To reduce the visual chaos and still accommodate the wide range of objects, the shelving system is designed as a grid. Large square cubbies are derived from four smaller square cubbies.

The shelving system is also used to designate four specific areas in the room. Each area display exhibits relating to one of four themes. For the visitor center staff and volunteers, we designed a circular desk and storage cabinets to fit the compact space and match the shelving system.

In the window alcove at the entrance are new benches for visitors to rest and plan their Alaskan adventure. Within arms reach are guide books, maps, and brochures. Hidden underneath a large map table is additional storage for the staff to use.

For the awkward space under the stairs we designed a giant shelf with adjustable shelves for larger items. This shelf also creates an entrance to a hidden bear cave for the kids (another legacy item from the former design)—complete with interpretation about bear hibernation.

Interpretive panels continue outside on the deck and the grounds. All these items create a cohesive organized space that moves a visitor through from the entrance to the exit.

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july 2017 | by linda repplinger

The communities of Amity and Dayton joined hands through a Ford Foundation Cohort program with the goal to create informational kiosks that function both as works of art and provide practical tourist information. Each kiosk—with one centrally located in each city—promotes bicycle tourism between the two communities and around the Yamhill Valley. They also highlight local attractions and each town’s unique history.

High ambitions and a strive for creativity lead them to pursue this project and seek out Sea Reach Ltd. in the neighboring town of Sheridan to assist with designing the kiosks and exhibits. It is a rare treat to get to work on projects so close to home.

Each kiosk is designed to incorporate a rustic feeling through the use of peeled logs and metal elements that mimic bicycle gears wheel rims. A layered art banner that spans the tops of the exhibit panels picks up landmarks, historic themes from each town, and shows cyclists in each town. We photographed specific landmarks in each city to use on banners and the illustrated maps. It was a fun way to explore these local gems that are continuing to grow and gain in small town charm.

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june 2017 | by susan jurasz

Sometimes a project is so straightforward, it offers a welcome respite between the more demanding ones. The National Park Service required large metal letters and a shield to be fabricated and installed over the two entrances into the visitor center at the Badlands National Park outside Wall, South Dakota. The project required letters (10" and 15" tall) to be cut from 0.5" aluminum and mounted with a NPS arrowhead above the doors of a single story, stucco building.

We met with Lauren, our NPS representative, the first day on site and all agreed that given weather report of impending snow, we should do our best to get the work done in one day, rather than the planned two. And so, with the brilliant blue, cloudless sky overhead, we put a push on it. Thank goodness we did! We woke up the next morning to the striking golds, oranges and reds of the painted hills all covered in white. The dramatic colors of the eroding hills were now muted to such a degree that all you could see was texture. It was interesting seeing in the space of twenty-four hours such a dynamic change. We toured the Park as soft snowflakes fell and the wildlife ventured closer, to the now quiet, road.

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1 document with 9 pages

june 2017 | by cory schott

An estuary is a natural meeting place. Here the sea and freshwater mix at the mouth of a river and plants and animals adapt to the daily rhythm of the tides. And on a rainy day in April, the Sea Reach team met with stakeholders at the Salmon River Estuary near Cascade Head on the lush and dynamic Oregon coast. After decades of restoration efforts, the Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council is ready to celebrate and showoff their work with an interpretive site that explains the importance of the Salmon River Estuary.

The site presents some challenges: it is narrow, the trail is short, and it feels more like a rest stop, with restrooms and picnic tables taking the center stage, than it does an important vantage onto an ecologically rich, newly restored natural system. So Sea Reach got to work defining and designing a "visitor experience" that we hope inspires the awe and appreciation that we have developed for this site since we began the project.

After several weeks of work, Sea Reach and the Watershed Council held a "public meeting" to show off the conceptual design. More than 30 people showed up at the site. It was a typical, soggy morning on the coast. Dressed in raingear and hoping for the best, Sea Reach presented the design with a series of full-size cardboard mock-ups to give the public and stakeholders a preview of the new exhibits.

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june 2017 | by kelly crees

The combined efforts of a group of people. Especially when successful.

A simple enough word and concept, but a more uncommon phenomenon in business than one might think. As I look back over my 30+ year work history — from working as a laborer on a construction crew, to coaching a high school soccer team, to planning and overseeing the operations of major event — bringing together people with different backgrounds, interests, and ambitions to work towards a common goal is always one of the key pillars of success.

In my first quarter as Operations Manager at Sea Reach I have begun to measure our current business environment using several different metrics. I find opportunities for improved efficiencies and streamline processes to better serve our clients and our staff members. As a part of this process I have been impressed by something that is not a "Hard Number" or a measurable and that is the high level of teamwork exhibited by the Sea Reach staff.

To a person, the team members here at Sea Reach exhibit the behaviors and attitudes of a successful team. They all are concerned with the impact of their role on the quality of the product that reaches the customer. Their single mindedness about quality has created a bond that is literally the definition of Teamwork. I look forward to contributing to this great team.

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may 2017 | by alex ogle

We recently finished installing interactive exhibits at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. Among the interactive exhibits is: a large mechanical jaw which squeezes a small fish until its eyes pop out; a set of "guess the predator’s prey item" spinning wheels; and a larger interactive featuring a robotic remote-operated vehicle (ROV) and custom circuitry for playing audio messages and illuminating lights on deep-sea fish sculptures.

The ROV interactive is among some of Sea Reach’s newer projects that feature elements of audio, light, and electromechanical motion. We use extremely small self-contained computers to mediate the interaction between visitor and the simulated deep-sea environment. We’re able to quickly prototype and customize the interaction, adding lights and sounds where we see fit. The ROV interactive uses several separate microcontrollers distributing the tasks of the interaction: one microcontroller to manage the audio, one to manage lighting the fish, one to manage the electromechanical system of the ROV, and one to listen for input from the buttons and control all the others. When a visitor pushes a button on the console, the master device wakes up the other devices and tells them which button was pushed, and suddenly the deep-sea environment comes to life.

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april 2017 | by jacob cordova-krahn

Having the chance to get out of the office with Ira (our shop foreman) on a site visit was fun as well as productive! We met up with our clients, Ann and Ivan, to stake locations for the interpretive panels. I loved seeing where each design would be displayed along the trail. With some assistance from Ira, I created my first installation package, which started with taking photos of each exhibit location and marking them on a map—we did a lot of walking that day!

Having the opportunity to see this project finally come to fruition has been a real reward. Being the first larger project I’ve had the opportunity to manage from start to finish, I grew a lot as a designer, and as a project manager. These unique exhibits truly capture the spirit of Hazelia Agri-cultural Trail in Lake Oswego, Oregon. I also got to design and produce a walking brochure to accompany the exhibits.

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december 2016 | by jason piper

I have recently joined the team here at Sea Reach and it has been an exciting adventure already! There are many different creative projects happening on a daily basis and it’s awesome to work with such a talented group.

Shortly after I was hired, Sea Reach purchased a CnC router to expand capabilities and have tighter control of the manufacturing process. Thankfully, I have a lot of experience operating this particular piece of equipment—I ran it for the past 5 years at my old job.

We set up the 5’ x 10’ CnC router table in our new space just down the street from our main office (which now also houses a full wood shop). We installed all the appropriate electrical outlets and muscled the hefty machine into place. I got everything connected and the computer communicating with the CnC control box and router again.

I had the CnC dialed in just in time to start production on a big project: a visitor center for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. I have worked on this CnC a lot, but I’ve mostly cut different types of wood, so this project was particularly interesting and fun because I cut different types of acrylic.

In the end, I cut out 36 sheets of material:
3 sheets of brown cast acrylic to make 38 wood ants
8 sheets of OSB for foliage and canopies that we then sanded, sprayed, and faux painted
25 sheets of clear cast acrylic that had tree canopy graphics laminated in our print studio.

It was a fantastic first run with the CnC in the new shop and I am looking forward to learning more about how to use the machine to cut all the unique signs that we design here at Sea Reach and also see what other creative outlets are possible. Stoked to be a part of the Sea Reach team!

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december 2016 | by jacob cordova-krahn

One thing that I enjoy about working at Sea Reach is getting the opportunity to explore a multitude of illustration styles. Tight and controlled, you ask? Sure thing. Or perhaps we want to see a more loose and expressive representation? I’m on it. Whatever it may be, I enjoy the challenge of adapting to new styles, which keeps things fresh around here!

An example of this can be seen in a recent project that I worked on. For the River Ridge trail in Tualatin, Oregon I thought it would be interesting to showcase two different styles... in the same panel! I got to experiment with digital watercolor layered over a pencil sketch, which offered an almost painted look. This was juxtaposed with a cleaner and refined style in the sidebar, offering a peak into another world. I enjoyed mixing the styles and hope to do some more experimentation in the future.

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