in the news (129)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE...
16 photo(s)

april 2014 | by peter reedijk

The final phase of our projects is often the installation of the work that has sometimes taken months to complete. For visitor centers or large site installations whole crews converge on a location and spend days or weeks finalizing this last phase of the work. But sometimes a single sign installation can be a crew of one or two.

For the installation of the main identification sign at the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield we arrived as a crew of two. Though this may seem more than enough, it looked like a daunting task given the 6 feet high and 25 feet wide dimension of the sign. Luckily enough, between the two of us we have over 50 years of experience to solve most problems we come across.

One can never predict what will go smoothly, and what will turn out to be a problem. It wasn't long before we encountered our first challenge: opening the crate of the massive wooden signs. Packed vertically for transport, the 3" thick cedar wood signs provided a days worth of work, but eventually capitulated and were gently layed to rest on the flat surface for mounting to the sign frame. The remaining installation went pretty smooth: traveling over highway and through rough wild fields with the sign components, installing a 24 feet frame with an eighth of an inch tolerance on an existing rock base, and finally the raising of the sign faces with just two guys and a forklift. Check!

A LIBERATING EXPERIENCE
13 photo(s)

april 2014 | by susan jurasz

We arrive at the Springfield National Armory a week after our installer, Ray, who has been succeeding despite some interesting challenges. "Yup, they were all surprised when I showed here alone, a crew of one." And indeed he is a crew of one. Ray has been installing Sea Reach signs all over the US and many times he works alone. He likes it. "There is no confusion that way, one opinion, one way to get it done, and that's my way." The truth is, Ray is amazing. We have worked together for over twenty years, he even built the Sea Reach offices (yes, single-handedly) and he has installed in rain, sleet, and snow. When we bid the monument sign for the Springfield National Armory, the job appeared easy and straightforward, but every install has its quirks.

Arriving on Good Friday, Ray met with Park staff to discuss sign location and details regarding his approach to the masonry. Project schedules are set in place months before travel, and I did not realize I had set Ray up to either dig a foundation, frame it up, and pour concrete in less than four hours or remain idle miles away from home through Easter weekend. So, he set to work immediately. All by hand, in less than two hours, he had removed the old sign, dug the foundation, framed for the pour, and met the concrete truck he ordered that very day. While the rest of the project should have been a home run after that, he soon discovered his next challenge. For the rest of the concrete block, brick and mortar work, Ray intended to mix the cement in smaller batches by hand, but the only source of water was in the National Park Service visitor center's bathroom. It was nearby, yes, but the bathroom was kept locked. So every time Ray needed water, he had to flag someone down to let him into the bathroom. He was very good natured about this inconvenience until he was nearing the end of the brickwork on the fourth day and his rinse water was too dirty to use, with mortar hardening and a sense of urgency, Ray could not find a man or woman with a bathroom key. Ever the perfectionist, this made Ray mad. He did ultimately find someone, and he rinsed the bricks in time, but we all got to hear this story when we arrived for the final inspection. Installing exhibits inside or outside always presents some interesting challenges. But we love it. It keeps us sharp, inventive, and forever learning.

Ray's reward was a private tour of the worlds largest collection of guns. While I am not a gun enthusiasts by any means, I was incredibly impressed by the breadth of the collection. My favorite was the world's smallest gun and the "liberator" a mass produced pistol used in World War II. The liberator is quite crude looking, almost not even recognizable as a gun. It was produced by the thousands and air dropped over Europe. It could only fire 2-3 times. That's it. And it was used to "liberate" a German soldier of his weapon.

POWELL BUTTE
17 photo(s)

march 2014 | by susan jurasz | show project

The day is stunning as our team of six begins work installing an indoor-outdoor visitor center on Powell Butte near Portland. From our worksite, we can see a 280-degree elevated view of east Portland. Mt Hood stands snow-capped in the distance. After months of finessing a series of Rube-Goldberg-style interactives and hand crafting layers of exhibitry, we finally reach the moment of truth: will all the pieces go together and function as planned?

The exhibits focus on two distinct themes: the natural history of Powell Butte, and the form and function of the Portland water system. The topics intertwine - a natural history exhibit describes the geologic formation of the butte, and the related water system exhibit shows how this and other nearby buttes are beautifully suited to storing and delivering Portland's water using the power of gravity.

The exhibits are designed to meet the client's need for flexibility, and access. Each of the huge, double-sided panels can pivot out of the way on six and a half feet steel posts, allowing groups to gather under cover. The cantilevered, gate-like structures allow an instructor to focus on only the natural history story, or only the water story, by configuring the room in such a way that only one story is visible from the inside.

Surrounding the visitor center building are stainless steel cylinders jutting out of the stained and textured pavement - some just a few inches and others as high as several feet. The cylinders, which are topped with bright blue terrazzo, beg to be climbed, sat on or even laid down on. Each cylinder represents a different size of pipe in the Portland water system. The largest pipe, at 90 inches, forms an arch you can walk through, while the smallest, at just a half inch, is a mere peephole.

THE MISSING LINK
10 photo(s)
0 layout(s)
1 document with 6 pages

march 2014 | by peter reedijk

After years of planning and paving, the last section of the Middle Fork Path is open to the public. The 10-foot-wide pathway now runs from Clearwater Park all the way to Dorris Ranch, opening up a previously inaccessible stretch of the Middle Fork Willamette River.

To enhance the visitor's experience and guide them along the 4-mile-long trail, a series of interpretive panels and maps were developed. They provide an overview of the diverse experiences and the history of the land on which the pathway meanders. A large woodcut illustration beckons the first time visitor as they approach the entrance providing a small taste of the wonders awaiting them on the trail.

To further enhance the path's regional appeal, a bridge across the river is also in long-range plans. Such a bridge would provide access to Lane County's 2,300-acre Howard Buford Recreation Area and Mount Pisgah (another one of our projects), including 16 miles of trails.

YOU GET HOW MANY KIOSKS?
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february 2014 | by melissa boettcher | show project

A wave of funding is allocated to many different parks in Illinois each year for exhibits. Twenty-seven parks were on the list. Wading through the information, confirming how many kiosks or post, what color, determining the number of panels and sizes, helping the writer get the research materials, learning twenty seven different clients and finding answers began (and continues) the journey that is the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. All IDNR panels are laid out in a design standard created for two standard sizes, a small horizontal and a large vertical format.

But wait, what do you do if a client wants mini trail markers, a large horizontal format rather then a vertical format, or cutouts? After awhile you realize that each site is truly unique and has its own story that needs to be told... and you roll with it to apply standards to an ever-growing number of signs. This next generation of IDNR signs is as unique as the sites in these wonderful Illinois Parks.

WHAT DEFINES SUCCESS?
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february 2014 | by susan jurasz

As we stand on the deck, the Forest Service hydrologist describes the lake that once lapped at the base of the uprights. It had been a reservoir locked behind an old dam. Today, the view is of alders and willow on a lush floodplain. The dam was removed in 2009 and the river restored to its meandering path.

The loss of the reservoir has been devastating to locals who grew up learning to swim at Hemlock Lake, but over the past 100 years, silt and sand deposited by the river had left the water only a few feet deep - potentially lethal to kids who jumped from the bridge and too warm for the few steelhead trying to pass. It is a bittersweet story to interpret. The restoration efforts are outstanding, 50,000 cubic yards of silt were removed, the dam deconstructed, and the freed river is now teeming with healthy steelhead.

But for a lot of locals, the occasion doesn't feel like a celebration. The picnic area is quiet. For myself, without a history at this site, the beauty of the natural river, flowing free and wild, is inspiring - in the face of climate change, where progress is defined as ever spanning towns and cities, this place represents a small miracle.

CASTING CHARACTERS
8 photo(s)

january 2014 | by linda repplinger | show project

Handwriting can reveal a lot about a person and an era. As a young girl, I admired my grandma's perfectly looped cursive handwriting - she was so beautifully composed in a letter. I also enjoy looking over notes from my mom, all written in a friendly, optimistic hand and enhanced with humorous illustrations.

Sea Reach has recently had a couple of projects where the interpretive story unfolds in a letter or series of postcards. For me, designing the letters and creating the handwriting was like casting characters.

Our latest project of this nature was a "Path to The Past" at a picnic site in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Along the trail, a series of letters tucked into old canvas mailbags reveal what it may have been like to be a young man working on a Civilian Conservation Corps team in the early 1930s. Tom, a fictional "CCC boy," learns new skills, develops self confidence, and sends earnings home to help his family.

Casting the handwriting of Tom started with some research. What type of writing utensils were used in the early 1930s? The ball point pen didn't make its mark until after it was patented by Laszlo Bira in 1938. Fountain pens were popular in the 1930s, but I settled on a pencil, which would have been more likely to work even in the cold mountain weather. Next, I researched handwriting samples from the 1930s, on the internet and in my own ancestors' documents, to pick an appropriate style for Tom.

While copying Tom's letters, I had to slow down from my quick dashes to achieve the angular, deliberate letters of that handwriting style. I was later to learn that young men in the CCC actually took classes to improve their handwriting skills!

HECETA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
6 photo(s)
0 layout(s)

december 2013 | by megan whitaker

My kids and I left rainy Coos Bay and headed north on Highway 101 - destination Heceta Head Lighthouse. As the day wore on, sun broke through the clouds and when we rounded the corner at mile marker 177, there it was in the distance.
Five minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot for the last tour of the day. Our volunteer was an enthusiastic woman who raved about the renovation of the lighthouse and our involvement in the signage.

My kids were impressed that for early keepers a trip to Florence - which we could see it in the distance - was a seven-hour wagon journey. And the trip had to be timed correctly with the tides lest you be left high and not so dry!

The guided tour was a nice bonus, but for those who arrive outside these hours, our panels help fill the void and shed some light on the workings of a modern lighthouse.

UNUSUAL SUBSTRATE AND EXCEPTIONAL CHALLENGES
10 photo(s)

december 2013 | by susan jurasz | show project

At Desert View, visitors don't just look over any desert. They look out over THE desert. The desert which witnessed and endured the testing of atomic weaponry. These moments changed the history of our country and brought the entire world into a new "technological" era - the atomic age.

The success or failure of these exhibits depended as much upon adapting to the landscape as it did the interpretation. The walkway from parking lot to final presentation cul-de-sac took advantage of a striking change in elevation. This in turn generated a series of hairpin turns on the walkway. Signage found placement en-route to the two cul-de-sac arenas that were created for the "longer story" interpretive presentations.

The viewing circles at the cul-de-sacs presented an interesting design and assembly challenge, one that we came to see as a "curve on a curve on a slope." The shape of the panels imitated the arc of the circular pad. The angle of each sign had to be placed so that each one was shaped like a flower petal that is tapered, having a wider top than base. The fact that the cement pad itself requires a slope allowing for drainage created a difficult challenge during installation but ultimately provided the perfect setup to juxtapose the natural beauty of the scenery and created a stunning spot to reflect on our national past.

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
5 photo(s)

october 2013 | by susan jurasz

Two of our favorite artists, Laura Bender and John Early of Sitepainters, approached us to assist them in fabricating a couple of sculptures to be displayed at a bus shelter in Grants Pass, Oregon. We began with two beautiful miniature models that the artists had designed to communicate the idea to the City of Grants Pass and the Art Commission.

Our challenge was to take these foot-tall models and scale them to over 12 feet tall. That meant translating the complex shapes jutting out from one another at irregular angles, cuts-outs revealing layers in multiple colors, and dangling chimes into the language of CAD drawings, so our fabricators could bend, punch and cut the material with water jets As the larger-than-life sculptures began to take shape, it felt like Alice and Wonderland. On the day of installation, the sculptures were the perfect size and shape, and the fall hues in surrounding trees accentuated the colors. Once again Laura and John had proved their talent for creating magic in an ordinary place.

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