Sunday, November 23, 2008

November AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

Lawrence Hall studio - Photo by Erik Bishoff

This month’s chapter meeting furthered the goal of strengthening ties between the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts (AAA) and local professionals. We had a great turn-out, which included not only AIA-SWO regulars, but also four representatives from the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), two new AIA-SWO members-to-be (Stan Honn and Rodd Hansen), and our guests from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts.

Christine Theodoropoulos, AIA, head of the UO Department of Architecture, led the evening’s presentation on the subject of faculty research. She discussed the “culture of research” at the university before introducing four young AAA faculty members, who in turn offered brief presentations about their respective research efforts.

In addition to teaching, a primary mission of the university is to conduct research, and the ultimate goal of research at the School of Architecture and Allied Arts is to raise design excellence. Reconciling the narrow focus of rigorous academic pursuit with the generalist nature and real-world demands of professional practice is the unique challenge faced by those members of the AAA faculty who are actively involved with research. According to Christine, the work is expected to go beyond what is considered normative, to seek new knowledge and explore new frontiers at the edges of architectural thinking and technologies.

Ironically, the focus upon future-oriented thinking and looking past current paradigms has sometimes meant that graduates are not necessarily best-equipped to satisfy current professional demands. Regardless, the university firmly believes that students need to be prepared for what lies decades ahead, not merely equipped with skills to be productive today. They're tomorrow's leaders and the new knowledge they introduce is the key to our future success and relevance as a profession. This is why the research being conducted at the University of Oregon and other schools is meaningful to active professionals.

Each of the four assistant professors introduced by Christine has established his or her own research agenda:

Mark Gillem
As a member of AIA-Southwestern Oregon, Mark is already a familiar face to many of us. He described his research efforts in the context of a typical pressure-packed work day, as fast-paced and complex as any plot for the TV series “24.” Much of Mark’s research work is associated with his study of the socio-cultural and physical impacts of American military bases, both in the U.S. and abroad.(1) Currently, this research has led the Department of Defense to retain Mark to assist it with reevaluating its land use models for U.S. military bases around the globe. He cited several of the DOD projects, including the possible redevelopment of Fort Lewis in Washington State, as well as a joint project with the Japanese government to seek ways to conserve land resources for US bases in Japan. Closer to home, Mark also described his investigations into the potential development of multi-way boulevards – tree-lined and with separate realms for through traffic and for slow-paced vehicular-pedestrian movement – as models for possible redevelopment of West 11th Avenue in Eugene and Main Street in Springfield.

Esther Hagenlocher
Originally from Stuttgart, Germany, Esther Hagenlocher’s research is related to small spaces and exhibition design. Her investigations range from tailor-made, built-in solutions to prefabricated multiple-use elements. Esther’s interest in the smaller-scale elements of architecture, including furniture, is representative of her unique background, which includes training as a cabinet maker in her native Germany. This focus on details extends to research regarding the impact of reflectivity and color upon our perception of architectural space.

Despite her career-long emphasis upon details, interior spaces, and transitory structures, Esther would love to be significantly involved with the design of a major building, such as an airport terminal. The relevance of her research certainly applies at all scales.

Kyuho Ahn
Coming to Oregon from South Korea (and after teaching stints at Fresno State University and Oklahoma State University), Kyuho Ahn’s primary research is focused upon the identification of objective metrics for evaluating the influence of architecture and interior design upon the success of retail sales. With credentials in industrial and retail design, Kyuho is well-suited to pursuing the question of whether there are common criteria that can be shared to evaluate consumers’ perception of the retail environment. The reality that social and cultural biases impact customers’ appreciation of space and their willingness to purchase goods is second-nature to Kyuho. He has witnessed that the characteristics of the most successful retail spaces in Seoul are not necessarily the same for their counterparts here in the U.S. For Kyuho, the key to research is the scholarship of discovery and integration, bringing scientific and statistical rigor to the process.

Erin Moore
Erin Moore is interested in the notions of time and materiality as they relate to architecture. More specifically, she sees parallels between the systems science concept of homeostasis and sustainability in architecture. Homeostasis is often associated with the property of living organisms that helps them maintain stable, constant conditions, even while being subjected to ecological flux. As applied to architecture, Erin foresees the development of building systems and strategies that take into account natural cycles of use and material or systems decay with the goal of achieving the highest efficiencies and goals of sustainability. She is currently involved with the construction of small projects that will test her theories regarding the nature of time and change. She is also assisting with concepts for housing to satisfy the needs of Bangladesh as that low-lying country confronts the reality of global warming and rising ocean levels.

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This month's winner of our chapter meeting raffle prize, which is a $50.00 gift certificate courtesy of Down to Earth Home Garden & Gifts store, is 2008-09 AIAS co-president Nick Lopez, architecture student at the University of Oregon. Remember, your first raffle ticket is free with your paid dinner and additional tickets are only $2 each. However, you can’t win if you don’t attend, so join us at our next meeting!

Big thanks to our November program sponsor, IMAGINiT Technologies, the world's largest value added reseller and authorized training center for Autodesk. IMAGINiT Technologies ensures successful adoption of Autodesk software through training and assured implementation methodologies. Reduced down-time, improved workflow and a more productive team, IMAGINiT!

(1) Mark is the author of America Town: Building the Outposts of Empire (2007, University of Minnesota Press) and numerous papers and articles that explore the link between architecture and urban design.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Would you be able to pas my email address on to Janna Alley?

I went to college with Janna during 79-82 and would like to touch base with her.

Thank you

Jon Anderson