Civic duty called earlier this week and I found myself in downtown Portland serving time as a potential juror. Monday was the latest in a string of glorious sunny days (mid 80's!) so come lunch time I strolled to the nearby Ira Keller Fountain Park.
Here's a little history from the Portland Parks and Rec website: "Even before remodeling of the Civic Auditorium began in the early 1960s, plans to create an open space across the street were being proposed. The proposal submitted by Lawrence Halprin, the well-known San Franciscan landscape architect who had designed the Lovejoy Fountain a few years earlier, was unanimously approved in 1968. Designed by Angela Danadjieva, the Forecourt Fountain (renamed after Ira Keller, head of the Portland Development Commission (PDC) from 1958–1972) was completed in 1970. 13,000 gallons of water per minute cascade through its terraces and platforms, suggesting the Northwest's abundant waterfalls. The concrete fountain became an instant city landmark and an internationally acclaimed open space."
Being a hot afternoon I expected the water to be alive with people, instead folks in business attire sat around the edges. I guess that's what happens when you visit on a weekday versus my other visits on the weekend. What I remember most about the fountain is watching people of all ages in the water. Jumping, splashing, or just lounging, this is typically a very interactive park.
I found this snippet online..."Civic planner Barbara Duncan wrote: "Coming from another urban area (Oakland-Berkeley) a number of years ago my first reaction to Ira's Fountain was slack-jawed disbelief. The thing most striking to me was its absence. Where were the signs saying 'keep out,' 'danger', 'caution', 'no swimming'? There were no warnings or precautions visible. Did the lawyers know about this? How do they pay the liability? I was charmed, impressed and fell totally in love with the city of Portland at that point. Charmed that they cared enough to give over this energy and space to a non-revenue generator… To this day, many years since, I would name either the Salmon Street Springs or Ira's Fountain as my favorite spots in the entire city. It is the joy factor of watching people interacting with the water. The kids especially are surprised that it is O.K. to go in. They look around as they approach the fountain, half-expecting someone to yell, 'Stop, don't touch that!' "
I guess they've since added the caution part, from the above sign...
Hard surfaces are what this park is all about.
The huge cement squares are great for spreading out a blanket...
But there are plants tucked in here and there...
Standing right here you could't hear a thing except for the thunder and crash of falling water...loud enough to drown out any city street noises. Had I closed my eyes I could have been a million miles away from civilization.
Just to the left of the water staircase is the one intended for humans. I tried to get a shot of them side by side but there was a couple enjoying their lunch right where I would have needed to stand, you'll have to use your imagination.
The view from part way up the stairs...
And at the top, having walked all the way back to where the water originates.
That's a happy Gunnera...
Walking closer to the edge, I'm now at the top of the tall formations shown at the beginning of this post.
While it looks like one could be overcome by foolishness and wash right over the side there are actually substantial edges that keep you contained.
So these little boys could play without their parents being too concerned (or so I told myself).
Still that's quite a drop!
They're happily oblivious...
On my way to Keller Fountain I'd noticed some new plantings that had me retracing my steps back to check out this building...
Turns out it's our Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, which recently underwent a modernization as "An American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Project," the original building had opened in 1975.
No that's not my coffee cup.
As I looked at the plantings I recalled a conversation I'd had with Sean Hogan (Cistus Nursery) a while back when I noticed tons of tiny plants set aside in a holding area, sure enough he was responsible for the the planting plan, along with Place Studio/Atelier Dreiseitl.
That crazy rolled berm is a change from what was to be a rock wall.
As the plants grow they should obscure the burlap-ish material.
This will be a very interesting project to watch mature.
The same material was used along the street, this is what initally caught my eye.
Still a few weeks until the general public will be passing by that berm.
My second day of jury duty I walked down to the waterfront (a future post) and happened along the backside of the Federal Building on my return. More berms, and a security guard approaching as I stuck my arm through the chain link fence to get the shot. Love that bench!
Manzanita on the left, Arbutus on the right.
The new street trees were pretty fabulous, although I have no idea what they are.
On the shady side of the street...
The sidewalk cut-outs around the older street-side plantings are a nice touch.
These lunchtime outings helped to keep my sanity as I was locked up inside on a beautiful sunny day. As turns out both courtrooms I spent time in have operable windows, how wonderful is that! Sun and fresh air during a court proceeding, seems only human.
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