For the first time in 100 years, Oregon’s Willamette Falls will open to the public, with a Riverwalk proposed by Mayer/Reed, Snøhetta and DIALOG. The second largest waterfall in the US, Willamette Falls has a diverse history, and the proposed design seeks to celebrate and amplify the power of the falls, weaving the pedestrian through its rich cultural and geological history.
The final destination of many west-bound pioneers on the Oregon Trail during the 1800s, the falls also served as a gathering spot and source of fish for Native Americans. During the 19th and 20th century, it was an industrial powerhouse, accommodating woolen, lumber, flour and paper mills, and a brick making operation. Yet after the bankruptcy of the Blue Heron Paper Mill, the site has been inhospitable to the public, haunted by empty industrial buildings.
Seeking to incorporate the site’s history into the Riverwalk, the architects were inspired by the material traces left behind on the bedrock over the years. The design aims to enhance the marks through atmosphere, light, sound, and space. The site’s existing materials, including everything from steel to ancient basalt, will also be integrated into the design.
“The magnetism of Willamette Falls is the genesis and spirit of place. We will provide an experiential glimpse of the fall’s power, one that transports visitors deep into history and highlights its elemental qualities,” said Carol Mayer-Reed, principal of Mayer/Reed.
The final design of the Riverwalk proposal will be the result of public discussion along with the selected designers.
For more information, visit www.rediscoverthefalls.com