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Willamette Falls: The Latest Architecture and News

Snøhetta Envisions Riverwalk Masterplan on Industrial Site at Oregon's Willamette Falls

Snøhetta has unveiled plans for a new riverwalk masterplan located alongside Oregon’s Willamette Falls – the second largest waterfall by volume in North America – that will open up the attraction to public access for the first time in over 150 years. Selected to lead the project in 2015 alongside Mayer/Reed and DIALOG, Snøhetta’s scheme is the result of a 2-year design process developed as a collaboration with the city and thousands of individual community members.

The resulting plan calls for the reutilization and augmentation of existing industrial structures on the 22-acre site, giving visitors the opportunity to experience the falls and its rugged basalt shoreline and reconnecting Oregon City to its historic waterfront.

The Mill O Visitor Center and Pipe Chase Porch. Image © Snøhetta The Woolen Mill Overlook. Image © Snøhetta The Clarifier Landscape and PGE Dam Promenade. Image © Snøhetta The Mill H Grove and Overlook. Image © Snøhetta + 15

Mayer/Reed, Snøhetta and DIALOG Selected to Design Oregon's Willamette Falls Riverwalk

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.