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Portlanders design cities in the Middle East

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High Five
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Designers  of Lake Oswego-based urban architecture firm Otak have brought their sustainability credentials to the Middle East.

Ben Bortolazzo and Martin Glastra van Loon of Otak model their designs for the United Arab Emirates after Northwest cities such as Portland and Vancouver B.C.

Otak has performed more than 40 projects in the United Arab Emirates and has increased the number of employees in its Abu Dhabi office from two to 150. Work performed in the United Arab Emirates accounts for 25 percent of Otak’s revenue. And with the country’s population expected to double by 2030, a lot of work remains.

In Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ capital city, work barely keeps pace with demand. A sketch presented by a design team to government officials one week could be under construction the next. The city plans to invest billions of dollars on light rail, new resorts and live-in-ready communities.

But work is challenging. Designers are attempting to create walkable, sustainable cities where temperatures climb to 118 degrees. And while Portland designers are accustomed to public transportation, cities in the United Arab Emirates are just now getting bus service.

Read more at the Daily Journal of Commerce.



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