Water Pollution Control Laboratory

No tour of sustainable approaches to water in Portland is complete without mentioning Tom Liptan, FASLA, a far-sighted landscape architect at the Bureau of Environmental Services who evolved Portland's regulatory program for green infrastructure. From inside the bureaucracy, he understood the need for design experimentation. In 1992, Robert Murase collaborated with Liptan on the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) located near the south end of the Eastbank Esplanade. OMSI was the first large-scale stormwater treatment using bioswales in parking lots. In removing all the underground storm conveyance, a significant cost savings was realized. This project was the first science experiment with public green infrastructure in Portland. Green infrastructure is now a nationwide movement continuously evolving.  
Keep in mind: The early years of city-mandated stormwater management resulted in single-purpose treatment ponds that were typically the assignment of civil engineers. The engineers designed them to accomplish a single function. With steep, rip-rap sides devoid of vegetation and chain link fences added in the name of safety, these facilities were typically located at the backs of sites due to the resulting poor aesthetics.
Liptan's and Murase's vision for publicly-accessible green infrastructure, however, was something different. Murase incorporated natural systems into many of his projects, taking these landscapes to the artistic level seen in the award-winning Water Pollution Control Lab.

The Water Pollution Control Laboratory is where the city conducts testing for water quality. It's located on the Willamette River in North Portland, next to Cathedral Park and the historic St. Johns Bridge.

The lab was designed by Murase Associates, Miller Hull Architects, and SERA Architects, and opened in 1997. The site tells a chapter of Portland's stormwater story well.

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