Thursday, May 9, 2013

A jury of your peers...

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.

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

25 comments:

  1. I used to work in the "old" building. I haven't been back since my daughter was born (2009), but WOW! They've done a great job. I'm going to have to go check it out myself.

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    1. If you do go I'd love to hear what it's like looking out through that metal structure, cool or distracting?

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  2. The Ira Keller Fountain is amazing. Wouldn't it be interesting to see just one lawyer shed his shoes and socks, roll up his pants and go wading? The more of Portland I see, the more I like it! Looking forward to seeing the progress of the federal building plantings!

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    1. Yes that would have been fun to see, but alas not that day.

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  3. That was a breath of fresh air kind of post. I could hear the water, I could feel the warm sunshine on my cheeks, I was completely taken by it all. Thank you.

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    1. Yay! Glad you enjoyed it Louis.

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  4. That's a great fountain and a lovely place to spend a sunny lunchtime.

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  5. Thanks for this great post and look at downtown Portland. We're coming for a visit on Memorial Day weekend, so this is something to check out. I can't help wondering if you were under surveillance the whole time you were taking pictures of the Federal Building.

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    1. Andrew was joking that the whole episode was recorded and now I'm being investigated...yikes! I guess I'll find out next time I fly.

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  6. The Edith Green building's sculpture was in the Oregonian this morning. Thanks for braving the possible wrath of the security guard to bring us this closer look. I've gone by the Halprin fountains several times with the intent of doing a post, but the water was always turned off. Maybe I'll post my waterless photos and direct readers here to see the real deal.

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    1. I saw that article, it helped me appreciate that sculpture a little bit more but you know I'm still not sure if I like it.

      The water was turned off? Why? Cleaning? Maintenance? That's too bad.

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  7. The fountain and architecture of the building is great! And interesting to see the use of burlap/hessian material, which hopefully will all be covered up by the plants eventually and form a nice seamless green all over.

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    1. I should have asked Sean how the shape of the rolled berm was achieved, the fabric alone can't be holding back all of that soil.

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  8. Those are wonderful outdoor spaces and I had to look twice at the sunshine and warmth which you seem to have more of than we do this spring.

    The plantings at the federal building are well done and the berm to replace a wall makes it even better. It should be interesting to watch them grow in and hold the shape.

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    1. Sunny and 85 here today! Then we start a cloudy wet period which I am not going to complain about.

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  9. I haven't been there in soooo long. This reminds me I need to go visit local parks and fountains. Nice post.

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    1. You work too hard! (she says with a smile)

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  10. how cool I can see I need to get to Portland!! thanks

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  11. I was called back in November as a potential juror, but did not sit on the case in the end.

    Those fountains are cool! There isn't anything like that around here.

    The planting is great as well. I wonder how the burlap berms will fare over the years?

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    1. I was rejected from two trials...

      There has to be a structure behind the burlap don't you think?

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  12. I agree, there must be Loree.

    Otherwise they would just fall apart as the burlap breaks down over time.

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  13. I remember the Forecourt fountain. It was one of the first Portland sightings my father took me to when I came to live with him in 1974. It's always held a special place in my heart.

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  14. Great idea, those burlap berms. Applicable in other contexts--I know someone who makes wreaths using pantyhose stuffed with potting mix inside a wire frame, same kind of idea, on a big scale.

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