Saturday, September 13, 2014

Rosaria Flores Hodgdon (1922-2014)

Rosaria Hodgdon
All of us can recall the amazing teachers who left indelible marks on our lives. Their brilliance commanded our respect and their passion for teaching drew us to them. Their greatest satisfaction came from seeing us go on to succeed in whatever we chose to pursue in life. 
I was extremely fortunate during my undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon (1980-1983) to learn from the members of a truly outstanding and diverse faculty. I’ve frequently featured the writings of one of my favorite professors, the late Bill Kleinsasser, here on my blog. Sadly, another of my noteworthy teachers, Rosaria Hodgdon, passed away last Monday. 
Rosaria was a dedicated urbanist, an advocate for smart growth and the principles of new urbanism well before those terms became popularized within the environmental design lexicon. In this regard, we might regard her presence at the University of Oregon—particularly in the Eugene of the early 1980s—as exceptional. 
One of the courses I took from Rosaria was ARCH 441G – Critical Issues in the Urban Environment. Looking back now, I realize how much Rosaria’s lessons regarding the importance of the city to human civilization and its development are relevant to everyday architectural practice. I learned from her that “urbanness” needn’t only be the province of politicians, sociologists, and planners. She convinced us it is within the city where the contributions of architects to society are most impactful. 
We lament surrendering to the passage of time those who have meant the most to us, yet we should rejoice in our memories of them. I’m very happy I got to know and learn from Rosaria Hodgdon. 
Here is Rosaria’s obituary as published in the Register-Guard: 
Rosaria Flores Hodgdon, 92, a woman pioneer in the field of architecture and an early leader in the Great Books Foundation, died September 8 in Needham, MA after a lengthy illness. 
Born in Naples, Italy, she was encouraged by her family to follow her passion for architecture, graduating from the University of Naples in 1945. After Naples fell to the Allies in 1943, she met her future husband, David Hodgdon, an American ambulance driver serving with a British unit that occupied her family's villa. After the war they came to his home town, Wakefield, Mass. They were married for 64 years until his death in 2009. 
She practiced architecture in Wakefield and at the same time coordinated 60 reading groups for the Great Books Foundation, at that time the largest adult education organization in the country. 
In 1963, she went to work for Shepley Bulfinch in Boston, moving in 1971 to CBT. 
The University of Oregon hired her in 1972 to teach in its School of Architecture. She won the Cornaro Tercentenary Award and was a Danforth Associate for outstanding teaching; she was granted tenure in 1979 and remained for 20 years. She published one book Housemoving: Old Houses Make Good Neighbors. 
In New England her projects included the Somerset Hotel in Boston, the Beebe Library in Wakefield, and the Hartford Hospital.
She is survived by two sons, Andrew and Charles of Newton, and daughter Victoria of Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Register-Guard Insert

I previously reported big news about the 2014 AIA-SWO People’s Choice Awards, specifically that its display and associated voting will take place at this fall’s Lane County Home Improvement Show, October 10-12. The next big announcement is that AIA-SWO will once again publish a special insert in the The Register-Guard newspaper to coincide with the Home Improvement Show and the People’s Choice Awards.

With a distribution to over 190,000 businesses and residents in Lane County, The Register-Guard is an excellent place to advertise your firm or business. This Register-Guard Insert is also one of the most direct ways that the AIA-SWO addresses the Eugene-area community as a whole. 

Join other AIA-SWO members in raising the visibility of our profession, highlighting the chapter’s recent accomplishments, and sharing the quality and value of our work in the community.

In addition to the copies delivered to subscribers and newspaper boxes, AIA-SWO will distribute hundreds of copies at October's First Friday Art Walk and at the Lane Events Center during the Home Improvement Show. If past attendance is any indication, the show organizers expect more than 30,000 people to pass through the doors.

Check out the PDF at this link for more information. The R-G Insert committee will follow up with member offices in the weeks ahead. Act quickly and secure your firm's place in the Register-Guard insert. Space is limited!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Charting a New Course

"Detail from a map of Ortelius - Magellan's ship Victoria" by Ortelius - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

AIA-SWO chapter president Scott Clarke, AIA, recently emailed a momentous letter to chapter members. He reported the chapter will not renew its contract with Don Kahle, who has served as AIA-SWO’s executive director since 2007. Don will leave his position at the end of this year.

I was at once both surprised and not surprised by the news.

I found it surprising because the board’s decision to not renew Don’s contract is huge; by choosing this course, the board is navigating our chapter toward the unchartered waters of a post-Kahle world.

The board’s decision wasn’t surprising because our chapter’s aspirations and the corresponding cost of Don’s service have become unsustainable. This is a bottom line verdict.    

There’s no doubt that with Don beside the helm, AIA-SWO broadened its horizons and became a stronger voice in the community. What I most appreciate about Don is his out-of-the-box thinking and his willingness to be, in his own words, a “troublemaker, iconoclast, and provocateur.” Before Don’s arrival in our world (Otto Poticha notwithstanding) our members maintained a safe and straight course. Our natural tendency was to not rock the boat. With Don’s encouragement and guidance, our chapter actively sought a higher public profile, undertaking a series of impressive initiatives (some of which Scott cites in his letter). We owe him a debt of gratitude for all he has done for AIA-SWO.

Don mentioned to me on more than one occasion how much he admires architects, the way we go about our work, and the vast potential of our profession. He wants us to succeed and effect the positive change he knows we’re capable of. He understands the importance of presenting a clear vision about the value of architecture and architects to society. I’ve no doubt Don will continue to be our biggest fan.

On a personal note, I’ve regarded Don as a valued mentor; this was especially true during my term as chapter president (2009). I’m grateful for his counsel. He helped draw me out of my shell. He was always quick to offer me advice when I asked him. I don’t expect this to change after he relinquishes his position as AIA-SWO executive director.

I’m interested to see who Don’s successor will be and how much responsibility the board will invest with him or her. I’ll also look forward to Don’s continued contributions toward the betterment of our community. I think we rubbed off a bit on him as much as he did on us. I fully expect Don will occasionally write or comment about Eugene’s architectural scene, exercising his characteristic intellect and wit while doing so.

Here’s the entire letter Scott sent to the AIA-SWO membership announcing the board’s decision:

August 20, 2014

Dear Members,

Don Kahle first worked with our chapter at the time of the AIA's 150th anniversary. He was an important part of our AIA 150 celebration, which our chapter manifested as an exploration of the potential of the Glenwood area between Eugene and Springfield. We identified this important link between the two cities as a place of great potential. Don was instrumental in the success of the event. Now, realization of the vision established 8 years ago is imminent and in some ways accomplished. Our chapter has undergone its own transformation. As Don's role with AIA-SWO grew, so too did our chapter's aspirations and expectations. We decided that we should do more, have a more active voice, and better serve our members and communities. Our present efforts are an extension of the vision formed in the years between the AIA 150 and now. Don has been the catalyst for efforts like our Center for Architecture, Architects Building Community (ABC), Register Guard newspaper insert, the 2010 AIA Pacific and Northwest Region Conference, and many other initiatives.

As our chapter's aspirations grew, we made a conscious decision to retain Don at a high level of service. As this occurred, we found ourselves engaged with larger initiatives and commensurate increased significance to our communities. At times, these initiatives brought with them income that buoyed our financial health. These kinds of lucrative situations have proven to be difficult to sustain. Recently (no doubt abetted by the poor economy of the last six years), an increasing amount of effort has been required to simply raise enough income to balance our budget. Some effort of this kind is to be expected, but when fundraising displaces work that defines our core mission we are left with an untenable condition. The high level of service Don has provided has enabled us to reimagine ourselves, and has established new standards for diversity and quality of chapter initiatives. He has taught us to think broadly and to seek symbiosis with other community institutions. He has successfully established new standards of performance and service. Our chapter will continue to strive to realize these new standards. We must do so in a fiscally responsible way. As a result, the board has decided not to renew Don's contract for 2015. This has been a difficult decision, and not one taken lightly, but the board sees that our current position is unsustainable.

We will seek means of changing the nature of our administrative services. We understand that this will result in a different kind of support from chapter staff. We will generate a revised description of the responsibilities for future executive directors. These responsibilities will focus on the administrative necessities of our organization, and will include fundraising responsibilities. We will maintain the vision of a stronger, more proactive organization that Don was instrumental in forming. We will assume the responsibility of remaining a visionary chapter that understands the value of our accomplishments while always remaining open to change. Maintenance of this vision will be the responsibility of the board. The cultural changes that Don has instigated have made this possible.

Don is continuing to serve our chapter well, and will do so for the remainder of 2014. He remains dedicated to acting in the best interest of our organization. We owe him thanks for all he has done for us, and wish him the very best. He will remain a vital, valued voice in our community. The vision he has brought to our organization will benefit us for years to come.


Scott Clarke, AIA
2014 President, AIA Southwest Oregon

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Precise Ambiguity

It’s time for another excerpt from the late Bill Kleinsasser’s self-published textbook SYNTHESIS. In the selection below he acknowledges the richness, complexity, and indeterminateness of truly responsive architecture by defining the timeless virtues of "precisely ambiguous" spaces and places.

Like some of the previous passages I’ve extracted, this excerpt hints at Bill’s restless mind. He had a tendency to cram too much information into a single sentence. His liberal and sometimes grammatically improper deployment of parenthetical remarks, ellipses, quotation marks, and upper case text for the sake of emphasis betrayed a keen interior monologue. Some of his run-on sentences were epic.

I like to think he simply felt he had too much to share with us. I sense his enthusiasm, conviction, and passion whenever I read my various editions of SYNTHESIS (I have three). There was a stream-of-consciousness urgency to Bill’s writing. No one else I know or have known writes or wrote like he did. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Any building, or “physical accommodation” (a description which we tend to prefer today because it makes us sound less “object oriented”), will have a shape, be complete, and determine its own extremities. This is so because, in the first place, it must be constructed . . . a process which begins at a point in time, lasts for a period of time, ends at another point in time and results in something relatively solid and permanent (we are not yet able to make the construction process self-correcting, self-adapting, and therefore continuous).

But, since we have already admitted that we don’t like to be classified as “object-oriented,” we try our best to modify these obvious and inevitable characteristics of what we make. This has been expressed in comparisons of the old architecture (with its emphasis on form, shape, objects, arrangement, and composition) and the emerging architecture which does not even want to be called architecture but rather “environmental design” (with its concern for sets, systems, process, frames, and human responsiveness).

Why is this so?

We are in an age of fantastically complex problems. We learn more and more about these problems (whether we like it or not) through the new communication media which also, because of the new speed of message transmission, suggest the interdependence of the problems; how one affects or changes (or eliminates or intensifies) others, and how it seems impossible to deal with one without dealing with all. People have never been so aware of this as they are now. This has given rise to the new sciences of “systems analysis,” “action-feedback recycling,” “sociological accounting,” “simulation testing,” and “human responsiveness and behaviorism.”

Out of this context and response has come a compelling sense of urgency and necessity; a kind of mutually interacting system in itself, which causes the desire to make places that will permit and cause all people individually to realize their potentiality as human beings (insofar as physical environment can contribute to this) . . . and this as a matter of course . . . as a normal part of daily life. Many designers now have some understanding of how to deal with complex, interacting, changing systems. They also have some understanding of non-physical or intangible human needs . . . and their complexity, their variety, and their vulnerability to shifting values. There is an increasing concern for particular situations, for real actions of people, for particular people, individual people and their experiences (or lack of them), and for the differences among people, for varieties of experience, and for change over time.

All this has led some environmental designers to conclude that the shape of what they make is not so important; except insofar as it contributes to the experiential enclosure for people to use, think about, modify, and otherwise make part of life. Attention is focused on the range of activities to be accommodated, the nature of the people who will be engaged in those activities and, most important of all, their capacity for expanded experience and expanding the experience until it is a new and different scene, or scene within a scene (another system), and then perhaps back again to what it was before. It is clear that environment for this kind of activity should evoke, but not dictate; help, but not limit; be powerful, but not over-powering; be exact, but not too particular; particular but not closed; in short, it should be precisely ambiguous . . . an intensifier of the experience of life, ourselves, and others, a developer of our capacities to respond, feel and, as Louis Kahn says, wonder.

This brings us to the realization that what this emerging architecture is trying to be is a genuine art form for our time (and therefore nothing really new after all).

WK / 1968

Friday, August 22, 2014

Architects in Schools 2014-2015

It’s hard to believe but it’s almost time for kids to head back to school. As the 2014-2015 school year approaches, the Architecture Foundation of Oregon (AFO) is once again looking for architects, intern architects, landscape architects, or interior designers willing to offer their time and energy to its longest-running, signature program: Architects in Schools.

The unique program provides elementary schools the opportunity to work with practicing professional architects and designers in curriculum-based activities. Coordinated by the AFO, Architects in Schools forms exciting partnerships between design professionals and Oregon schools. Architects, intern architects, landscape architects, and interior designers are all welcome to participate.

The program pairs design professionals with classroom teachers to deliver arts programming, cultivate environmental understanding, enhance appreciation of cultural links to history, foster career awareness, and develop students’ communication skills—all through the principles and practices of architecture and design. 

Students participating in Architects in Schools also learn about cooperation and planning, connect to required education standards, and gain a better sense of how school relates to the “real world.”

Thousands of students have participated in AiS over the years. The program is just as vital and relevant today as it was when Marjorie Wintermute, FAIA first initiated the program more than thirty years ago.

Architects in Schools is open to grades 3 through 5 and is offered to schools at no charge. The design professional’s commitment to the program usually totals approximately 20 hours between January and April as follows:
  • 12 hours in the classroom (approximately two hours per week over a six-week period that works with the architect’s schedule) 
  • 8 hours of orientation, including pre-planning time with teachers, and 
  • Up to 2 additional hours of “floating time”

There is no charge for participation for design professionals or schools. Architects may receive Continuing Education credits and interns may receive IDP credits for completion of the entire program. Everyone receives a copy of the comprehensive curriculum, Architecture as a Basic Curriculum Builder

This year's program information is here. This year, the AFO is using Survey Monkey for easy online applications. Click the link below to complete your application:

The deadline for 2014-2015 design professional applications is September 12, 2014. Orientation will take place in late October for Southern Oregon and in November for Portland, Eugene, and Bend. The Salem orientation will occur in January. The AFO will announce exact dates and as soon as possible. 

It’s been a while since I participated in the Architects in Schools program (I taught third graders at Coburg Elementary School), but it stands today as one of my most rewarding volunteer experiences. Consider sharing your passion and professional skills with the community through the AiS program. If you do, you'll see what I mean.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

25th Annual People’s Choice Awards

Each year, the American Institute of Architects, Southwestern Oregon Chapter (AIA-SWO) in collaboration with the American Society of Landscape Architects, Willamette Valley Section of the Oregon Chapter (ASLA) sponsors the People’s Choice Awards for Architecture. As the 25th annual edition of the event, this year’s People’s Choice Awards program promises to be bigger and better than ever. 
The intent of the People’s Choice Awards is to educate and inspire our fellow citizens by showcasing architecture, interiors, and landscape architecture projects created within the Southwestern Oregon Chapter area by AIA, ASLA, or AIAS members. The program demonstrates to the public the role of the design professions in enhancing the built environment.  
This year, we’re asking the public to vote for their favorite designs in several categories at the Lane County Home Improvement Show, October 10-12, 2014 at the Lane Events Center.(1) We expect to garner a record number of ballots as folks attending the Home Improvement Show will be eagerly absorbing all they can about design and construction. The show will be an excellent opportunity for AIA-SWO and ASLA members to showcase their best recent projects. 
All the votes will be counted and winners recognized at the October AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting. 
Participation Benefits
You’ll gain valuable public exposure and feedback from the community by entering the People’s Choice Awards. Your professional colleagues will also have the opportunity to vote on your entry as part of the Colleagues’ Choice Awards. Your boards will be displayed at the Lane Events Center throughout the duration of the Home Improvement Show. AIA-SWO will post pictures and written descriptions of all the winners on the chapter website, and also seek to further publicize the awards program through various local media outlets. 
Intent to Enter: Save the Date!
Look for the Intent to Enter form in a few days. We’ll conveniently post it for downloading from the AIA-SWO website. The Intent to Enter deadline will be September 15, so be sure to act quickly once the form available.  

(1)    With no Eugene Celebration this year, the People’s Choice Awards committee looked for another venue. The organizers of the Lane County Home Improvement Show are enthusiastic about hosting the awards display this year, offering a key location within the Events Center at no charge. With the outstanding attendance the Home Improvement Show always attracts, this is a big win for the People’s Choice Awards.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Help me make bail - I'm an MDA Jailbird!

This post isn’t about architecture at all but it is very important. Believe it or not, I'm going to jail (!) and I need your help.

While it's not a real jail, it's even more important as I'm raising bail to help children and adults with muscle disease in my community who are supported by the vital work of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). I might not be able to rely on good behavior to get out so that's why I need your help. I need you to donate to my bail! Just click on the link below to make a secure donation. It's easy to make your tax deductible donation on MDA's secure site:

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other neuromuscular diseases. The MDA does so by funding worldwide research, by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide, and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising, and local engagement. It’s special work powered by special people who give generously.

Prior to agreeing to participate as one of 2014 Eugene/Springfield MDA Lock-Up jailbirds, I knew surprisingly little about muscular dystrophy. I didn’t know it is actually a group of muscle diseases that weaken the musculoskeletal system and hamper locomotion. Muscular dystrophies are characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins, and the death of muscle cells and tissue. 

The MDA is pursuing the full spectrum of research approaches toward combating neuromuscular diseases, from fundamental discoveries of the causes of disease to clinical trials of potential treatments. MDA also helps spread this scientific knowledge and train the next generation of scientific leaders by funding national and international research conferences, clinical research training grants and career development grants.

By going "behind bars" at the 2014 Eugene/Springfield Lock-Up on August 28, I’m doing my small part to help in the fight against muscle disease. I'll be joining other community leaders then to raise critical funds for the MDA, and I need your help to reach my bail!

My goal is actually to raise my bail before they throw me in the slammer, so make your secure, online donation today. All funds raised by the MDA Lock-Up assist the MDA in providing lifesaving research, a nationwide network of medical clinics, and accessible summer camp experiences to individuals and families affected by neuromuscular diseases.

Visit my fundraising page. My personal goal is to raise $2,400. Your contribution might be the key that unlocks the next breakthrough in the battle against muscular dystrophy. I know that together we can “make a muscle” and make a difference in the fight against muscle disease. Most importantly, your tax-deductible donation will help the many kids and adults who live with muscular dystrophy right here in Eugene and Springfield.

To all of you who help me help the MDA, thank you!