in the news (143)

18 photo(s)

september 2020 | by susan jurasz

No matter where it is in the world, when a community regains public access to its waterfront, life flows in. In Juneau, Alaska, a new section of the waterfront Seawalk was just completed, and people are enjoying the improved access and environment. The key feature in this section of the Seawalk is a life size bronze sculpture of a breaching whale. Sea Reach, with roots in the early humpback whale research in Southeast Alaska, assisted with the science behind the near perfect proportion of this mammoth beast.

To complement the visitor experience, Sea Reach also developed a series of interpretive displays surrounding the whale and along the Seawalk. Exhibits depict the challenges of building a huge, water-spouting bronze whale and share information about humpbacks in Southeast. There are interactive exhibits featuring seabirds, weather (including a huge wind chime), and what it takes to safely ply the oceans in Alaska. Locals and visitors alike make this a must-see destination — a visit to the Seawalk will delight your senses in every respect.

4 photo(s)

october 2018 | by kate verotsky

It was the colors that kept me gawking. The four corners region of southwest Colorado is famous for inspiring sensory awe of every description, but this Oregonian expected most of it to be brown. Instead, the rich hues of the dramatic mesa cliffs belied the word "desert" at every turn.

The new visitor center experience at Chimney Rock National Monument is an exciting challenge. Over 1,000 years ago, the ancient Pueblo ancestors of 25 modern local tribes constructed a built environment that required astonishing feats of engineering, diplomacy and skill. From an "ivory tower" observatory at 7,600 feet, revered skywatchers meticulously studied celestial movements — conveying their findings by fire signal to the political powerhouse of Chaco Canyon, a metropolis 90 miles southwest near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Today, the bustle of this ancient community is replaced by the tranquility of ponderosa and pinion, cactus and yucca. Few signs of life greeted us beyond the tarantula (!) that scurried along in search of a mate as we stood admiring the remains of a ceremonial kiva.

At Sea Reach, our enchantment with the stories we are commissioned to tell and our commitment to finding creative and compelling ways to draw others into the wonders that surround us makes work a way of life! We’re honored to embark on the interpretation of this story, and will strive to match the ingenuity and skill of the native peoples that created it.

1 photo(s)

april 2018 | by peter reedijk

As flock after flock of sandhill cranes pass over our car, our necks strain from swiveling. It is dusk and they are on their way to the Platte River. The next day, we are informed that this year, this area has counted over 600,000 sandhills…and one whooping crane! The whooping crane, one of roughly 600 left on this planet, is the tallest bird in North America (a fact I later learned on Wikipedia). As soon as it was sighted, everyone in the know raced to see this magnificent bird. We are a day too late.

Sea Reach was invited to present at the 2018 Ecotourism Symposium in Kearney, Nebraska. The symposium, which focused on the role of nature-based tourism on the Great Plains, combined three conferences into one: the Nebraska Tourism Commission's annual Agri/Ecotourism Workshop, the Heartland Scenic Byways Annual Conference, and the University of Nebraska's Center for Great Plains Studies’ annual symposium.

We were captivated by the inspirational speaker Dean Jacobs at lunch, and enjoyed learning from an hour-long presentation by trailblazer Luke Jordan. Both men are explorers: Dean travels the world and breaks down stereotypes and Luke trudged 2,200 miles from Texas to Canada to forge the first on-the-ground route for the Great Plains Trail. The take-away message from both: leave fear behind and follow your dreams.

10 photo(s)

april 2018 | by susan jurasz

We love what we do. Some days are hard, yes. Others can be downright disappointing, but overall, our work offers variety and challenges that keep us alive and pushing toward excellence as hard as we can.
Last week was a great example of the variety that drives us! We traveled to Brazil to lead a five-day interpretive workshop sponsored by the University of Colorado, US Aid, and the US Forest Service. Our students were an amazing group of individuals who work for the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) —the environmental branch the Brazilian Ministry.
What we brought to the table were examples of our interpretive work and approach, and a plan to discuss what it takes to create effective (thematic, message-resonating) interpretive experiences. What we took away from the experience was admiration for the few people who work to protect and manage some of the most beautiful natural places in the world. The ICMBio team were as hungry for our ideas as we were for theirs. The result was a productive exchange of the challenges that face all hardworking passionate professionals. "How can we be more effective?"

5 photo(s)

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.


january 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.

10 photo(s)
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.

4 photo(s)
0 layout(s)

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.

3 photo(s)

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.

1 photo(s)
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.

left left