TreeSquare – Portland OR, USA 

Project Goal:  To provide seating and shade while mitigating stormwater flooding.

Client: Vernon Elementary Public School – Portland 

Partners: De-PaveAnkrom Moisan ArchitectsTurner ConstructionLower Columbia Estuary Partnership

Services Delivered: Project Coordination, Subject Matter Recruitment, Design/Build and fabrication.


Vernon Elementary School invited Open Architecture Collaborative’s Portland Chapter (OACPDX) to provide design services. The collaborative developed three concepts, and presented them to student representatives and the school’s Parents Association, who chose the final concept to be implemented. The design-build initiative consisted of removing pavement for stormwater management, planting trees and adding benches to the school’s playground.

The collective environmental effort remarkably transformed the playground into a play space that now responsibly manages stormwater and offers space for the newly planted trees to thrive. While the new tree canopy provides shade the juniper benches protect the trees and offer spaces for everyone to sit while surrounded in play space. The new trees and breaks in the concrete also reduce the volume of water flowing through gutters and along roads after a storm resulting in less runoff, as well as cleaner water entering local rivers and lakes.

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