in the news (143)

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may 2016 | by peter reedijk

A reasonably simple challenge: fabricate a fifty-foot outdoor semi-circular mural that can withstand intense sunlight and extreme temperatures, mount it on a cinderblock wall that may not actually be a perfect half circle, and incorporate an easy mechanism for replacing sections of the mural in the future. No problem!

The resulting mural is fabricated out of high-pressure laminate panels—as large as we could possibly make them. The structure is one continuous aluminum frame. Due to the size of the structure, and the expansion and contraction of materials, particularly aluminum over this length, we designed the mural in a series of overlapping or "shingled" panels. This allows the mural to grow and shrink in the changing temperatures and provides the client an inexpensive solution to replace parts in the future.

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may 2016 | by susan jurasz

I admit, I am a little nervous. We have an eight-foot by six-foot sign to hand-paint on custom tongue and groove barn wood, twelve feet above the floor in a brand new fancy restaurant. Holland America Princess (the cruise line) just added new visitor amenities to their McKinley Chalets campus. Sea Reach did all the planning, design, fabrication, and installation of the signage required to open the new facility: code signs, building identities, pedestrian directionals, maps, regulatory and warning signs, and interpretive exhibits all had to be designed and installed by May 14th…

…including this new restaurant sign. The intent is to make the sign look as though it has weathered in place, but that rough look takes lots of care; there can be no mistakes! We borrow scaffolding from the general contractor on site, and two of us start work first thing in the morning. It takes nearly two hours to get the stencil level and centered on the wall. From there, it’s a slow sponge painting process—the paint has to be just thick enough so that it will not bleed under the stencil. Bit by bit, the sign begins to reveal itself. The final result: just what the client wanted. Whew!

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april 2016 | by susan jurasz

If you were privileged to go on grade school field trips, then you may empathize with me when I say that field trips were momentous events in my childhood. A field trip was the first time I held a boy’s hand (in the back of the bus) and a field trip was where I learned that the money you put into the bank is not exactly the same money they give back to you. The first time I ever thought about electricity was on a field trip to a hydropower station. I still hear the deafening sound of the water surging through the turbines and feel the fine mist as water was pulverized.

Today, we are designing experiences for school kids to learn, via hands-on experiments, about the tremendous technological leaps of the industrial age. At the Lowell National Historic site, miles of brick buildings once comprised a massive industrial cotton mill complex. In the late 1800s, water was channeled to run huge turbines beneath each building. The turbines turned a complex system of pulleys (three to four stories high). The rotational movement of the pulleys was transformed into up and down movements using pistons and cams. All this energy, starting with the movement of water, was used to transform tufts of cotton into fine linen.

I was astounded at how much I learned as we worked with the University of Massachusetts and the National Park Service to design exhibits that allow students to experientially learn about the innovations of the industrial age.

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april 2016 | by peter reedijk

I remember the distinct "aha moment" when I found out that the Milky Way was the spiral arm of our galaxy. And growing up in Southeast Alaska, away from city lights, I got to see the milky way regularly. In college, I was struck again, when my astronomy professor said that there are millions of solar systems — in our galaxy and beyond. Recently, I saw a Omimax presentation about the Hubble Space Telescope, where we are now photographing other galaxies and naming them.

Why all this star talk? We just finished installing a mural of the night sky in the Great Basin National Park Visitor Center. The park was designated to protect and celebrate the Great Basin — one of the largest land-bound watersheds in the world. The Great Basin drains 200,000 square miles into lakes, not into an ocean (that’s why the Great Salt Lake is so salty!) Great Basin National Park also includes one of the largest stands of bristlecone pines (the oldest living things on earth) and the Lehman caves. Today, there is also the recognition that this area is great for star gazing. Miles of flat scrublands, relatively low mountains, and no city lights — here, you can still see the Milky Way on a nightly basis.

The mural surrounds the theater room. When you sit down, you are surrounded by the night sky in a rich indigo blue. Along the bottom perimeter, if you look closely, you can see desert inhabitants amount the sagebrush: a coyote, cougar, hare, deer, and bats. You are in good company.

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march 2016 | by peter reedijk

Saddle shoes, poodle dresses, elvis presley, mariyln monroe, polka dots, leave-to-beaver, and drive-in theaters are just a few of the things conjured up when we remember the 1950s. Today, entire neighborhoods built a half-a-century ago are being recognized for their iconic architecture. We were recently approached by a neighborhood group in Portland, Oregon wanting to celebrate their roots in the swinging age of rock and roll to design some public benches. As the design process began, requirements started to pile up, and the opportunity presented an interesting set of challenges. Not only does the design need to reflect the " Jet-Age," we also need to be mindful of ADA requirements, sustainability, longevity, vandalism, maintenance, cost efficiency, and we need to accommodate several different configurations depending on the public space . . . No problem!

We started with a wide range of choices to quickly render it down to a basic design form we could all agree upon. After we agreed on the look and feel, we chose the materials and fabrication methods. The system uses two vertical stainless steel circles as the stabilizer of the bench and a 2" thick beautiful alaskan yellow cedar horizontal platform that would give us the ability to "stretch" the bench from it’s basic 6 foot long, to an infinite number of connected seats. The system can be used as a standalone bench with or without backrest, or a variety of connected modules depending the needs of the environment.

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march 2016 | by peter reedijk

It was not our intention to build exhibits engineered to stop a speeding car from a 150-foot-plunge into the Willamette River, and yet, that is precisely what we were asked to do… so our drawings were judged not on the basis of aesthetics alone, but also from a highway safety standpoint.

Exhibits were fabricated with 1" thick steel plate attachments and then galvanized and powder coated. Massive carriage bolts anchor the exhibit structures to the bridge in the gaps left in the railings for this purpose. The stories memorialize the old bridge, the challenges in building the new bridge, the history of the surrounding communities and life along the river. There are twelve exhibits total spaced along the bridge and the adjacent park & cemetery.

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march 2016 | by susan jurasz

Nestled at the base of glacier-laden mountains, bordered by one of the most expansive river deltas in the world (the Copper River Delta) and accessible by only boat and air — Cordova, Alaska is the gateway to a scenic wilderness. Whether you arrive by boat or plane, it is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of what surrounds you. On a cloudy day, you see a small town harbor or a one-room airport. On a sunny day, the beauty of the scenery is so vast and varied that it is difficult to absorb. Our task was to create a mural celebrating the ocean, mountains, and delta to greet visitors arriving at the Merle "Mudhole" Smith Airport.

The biggest challenge to the installation was designing a substrate to level out all the indentations and irregularities in the existing airport walls. We "hung" a new wall over the old, so that the mural would be flush on each of the three walls surrounding the waiting area.

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march 2016 | by susan jurasz | show project

We take for granted the trails and greenspaces that either exist or are being created in our neighborhoods, and for many of them, perhaps all of them, we owe a huge thanks to the people who had the foresight to begin planning them — ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

The Tualatin Greenway in Tualatin, Oregon just had its grand opening. It’s one more link in a chain of regional trails… but this trail segment offers a trail experience that stands out. For a section of this trail, users step back in time to walk across footprints of prehistoric megafauna—giant sloth and mastodon—and see fossils of giant salmon or saber-tooth tigers. You can even touch erratics that traveled hundreds of miles, carried by the catastrophic Missoula floods (evidence of the Ice Age). The concrete path is embedded with granite bands marking some of the land-shaping events of the valley over the past 20,000 years.

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february 2016 | by linda repplinger

My memories of Fort Vancouver as an elementary school student on a field trip included exploring the Fort, watching a cook make hardtack in the Fort’s kitchen, and of course Dr. John McLoughlin, whose presence is just as impressive through his photograph over 150 years later!

Working with the National Park Service to revamp their Visitor Center uncovered many other fun facts. Here are just a couple. Explore the new Visitor Center to find out more!

Archaeologists discovered the world’s largest collection of Spode ceramics down privy holes. Although disposal of ceramic vessels in privies was not a common practice, excess ceramics may have been tossed here and some chamber pots may have accidentally fallen into the holes when emptied. Combined with other sites at the Fort, Fort Vancouver now holds the world’s largest collection of Spode ceramics!

Hawaiians played a large part in the economics of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Vancouver. They worked as loggers, hunters and trappers, farmers, sailors, cooks, and guards. Fort Vancouver regularly traded lumber, flour, and lomo lomi smoked salmon via Hudson’s Bay ships to a commercial post in Honolulu, in return Hawaii traded coffee, sugar, molasses, rice, and salt which could then be distributed to smaller posts. This relationship may be partly due to friendship between the royal family in Hawaii with the royal family in England.

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february 2016 | by cory schott

"Well, it’s sort of like that Iditarod, but this is way more interesting."

When I tell people that we are working on a project for the Iditarod National Historic Trail for the Forest Service, I say the above sentence a lot. Even to Alaskans.

Everyone knows about the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Today, teams of mushers leave downtown Anchorage on an epic journey across Alaska’s interior thats ends far to the north, in Nome. They also likely know that the race commemorates a famous 1925 serum run that saved the children of Nome from a diphtheria outbreak.

In reality, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the 1925 Serum Run, and the Iditarod National Historic Trail are so intertwined and jumbled together that in most minds, they are all the same. They are, however, not the same thing.

Our job in the coming months is to untangle these three interwoven stories and highlight the importance of the historic trail. We will be crafting an interpretive plan for the southern portion of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, which stretches from Girdwood (a resort town south of Anchorage) to Seward (a strategic deep-water port). It was this route that the majority of people took to get to goldfields in Alaska in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The job ahead will not be easy. On the one hand, the word Iditarod is instantly recognizable to people all over the world. On the other, the word’s association with race and serum run cloud the historic importance of the entire route.

We got a sense of the types of themes and stories from our first trip on the ground recently. While sled dogs will certainly be featured prominently in our interpretive storyline, so too will the miners, native peoples, Russian traders, vagabonds, merchants, and colorful characters that populated this important history. One such person we came across was a woman by the name of Alaska Nellie, the owner of a series of roadhouses along the historic route.

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