The wooden beams at downtown Portland’s Director Park haven’t taken too kindly to the onslaught of water found in the Pacific Northwest.
The park, which opened in the heart of downtown Portland in 2009, was a $9.45 million project largely funded with private donations. While an oasis in the midst of the buildings that make up picturesque Portland, beams supporting a glass canopy rising 25 feet above the park have deteriorated to the point that emergency repairs are needed to keep the area safe.
According to a report from The Oregonian, a structural engineer gave the Portland Parks & Recreation department a report in October 2014 that 21 wooden beams needed immediate replacement. Another 33 need replacement soon.
Just last week the Portland City Council followed that up with the authorization of $790,000 for repairs, expected to start in September and last about two months.
The official report from Miller Consulting Engineers says wind and weight concerns for snow and ice have them concerned about the structure because of the moisture content found in the beams. Miller, though, says that beams lacked proper coating or sealants to withstand the water damage.
The report, obtained by The Oregonian in a public records request and made public, says that beams lacked any “evidence of weather treatment in the form of pressure treatment or other exterior coating to protect and seal the lumber.” One particular beam was of such poor quality “a flat head screwdriver can be embedded in the end up to the handle.”
Of the beams, the ones that showed minimal visual deterioration had about 7 percent moisture content, but other beams—some showing obvious mildew—had up to 40 percent moisture content.
To stave off the emergency concerns and any future problems, steel will replace all the 130 wooden beams. The parks department will be on the hook for $188,000 of the costs, but project designer, ZGF Architects, will pay $602,000.
Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.