Saturday, December 26, 2009

Who’s the Expert?

"I'll take the Architecture of Italian Rationalism for $200, Alex!"

The University of Oregon’s chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an Architecture Trivia Night on Thursday, January 14, 2010. Students, faculty, and local professionals will come together for a catered dinner followed by a Jeopardy!-style trivia game to determine “Who’s the Expert?”

I strongly encourage AIA-SWO members and other local design professionals to sponsor and participate in this event. Doing so will not only provide financial support for the AIAS but also give you a chance to connect with students at the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts in an entertaining and casual setting. Sponsorship will help the AIAS with the cost of catering services, equipment rentals, and prizes.

The AIAS has established a tiered sponsorship program for Architecture Trivia Night, ranging from Bronze (donation of prizes), through Silver (donation of $50-$149), Gold ($150-$249), Platinum ($250 or more), to Sustainable Partnership ($800). Donor recognition packages include seeing your company logo on prize packages, table top displays, or acknowledgement on the trivia game board or event poster.

Prizes can include but are not limited to gift certificates, architectural/art supplies, and internship or job shadow opportunities for five students or more. There will be a cash grand prize.

I will soon send an e-mail to all AIA-SWO members including the sponsorship form and more details about sponsorship benefits. All donations are tax deductible.

Architecture Trivia Night will take place at Lawrence Hall on the University of Oregon campus, starting with dinner at 6:00 PM and followed by the trivia game at 7:00 PM. For more information about this event including how you can be a sponsor, contact AIAS Events Committee member Andrea Mohr by e-mail at or by phone at (503) 740-8328.

I hope to see many AIA-SWO members on January 14 at Architecture Trivia Night. So put on your thinking caps and be there! I know that the AIAS would be very appreciative of your support and participation.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

The 2009 AIA-SWO Holiday Party took place this past Wednesday at the Mid-Town Arts Center in Eugene. With the talented woodwind quintet “No Strings Attached” setting a festive mood, over fifty chapter members and friends crowded the MAC to enjoy each others’ company and a scrumptious selection of culinary delights prepared by Cornucopia Restaurant & Catering.(1) From what I could tell, everyone had a great time.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. When else do people gather to reflect and savor a season as much as we do during the span between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day? We look forward to our seasonal traditions in part because they are comforting and strengthen the bonds of our community. They celebrate peace and nostalgia. The rituals of our holidays are meaningful and worthy of preservation.

From our chapter’s perspective, the party was a fitting conclusion to a year marked by membership growth, increased fellowship, and capacity-building, all in the face of a devastatingly severe economic downturn that might have suggested otherwise. I think it’s a testament to the value of AIA that 2009 proved to be such a watershed year. I’m confident that AIA-SWO will continue to grow, prosper, and be even more effective during 2010. The future looks bright.
* * * * * * * *

Our December program sponsor was Herman Miller, the international leader in ergonomic chair design. As I mentioned in my President’s Message, the company generously donated to our chapter one of its stylish and technologically sophisticated Setu office chairs. We sold the chair to the highest bidder in a silent auction at our holiday party. That person was a very happy Anne DeLaney, AIA, of Bergsund DeLaney Architecture & Planning, who looks forward to using the comfortable Setu chair for many years. Thank you Anne! Your contribution will help support AIA-SWO activities in 2010 that benefit all members.

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This month's winner of our chapter meeting raffle prize, which was a $25.00 gift certificate courtesy of The Green Store, was Anita Van Asperdt of LandCurrent Landscape Architecture. 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 February 2010 meeting for your next opportunity to win!

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The first AIA-SWO chapter meeting of 2010 will be our annual joint event with the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Join us on Thursday, January 28, 2010 for the BUILD 2010 Construction Conference. With the economic picture showing glimpses of hope, building professionals will gather at the Eugene Hilton Hotel & Conference Center for an afternoon of educational seminars, a construction product show, and an evening economic forecast featuring a keynote speech from leading Oregon economist John Mitchell.

BUILD 2010 will begin with a product show and free educational workshops on a variety of construction-related topics from 2:00– 5:30 PM. You’ll find a full list of topics and continuing education credit information on CSI’s website. The social hour begins at 5:30 PM, with dinner following at 6:30 PM; the program will start at 7:00 PM. The cost for dinner is $25 and reservations are required. If you are interested in attending please contact Tana Baker at (541) 687-9445 or by e-mail at

(1) I’m very appreciative of how understanding and accommodating Cornucopia’s owner, Alison Albrecht, was when faced with the challenge of serving food to many more people than she was asked to plan for. At the time of our RSVP cutoff, we had twenty-four confirmed respondents. Over fifty showed up at the party. Come on people! Send in your RSVP on time. It’s a matter of courtesy and respect to our caterer, and greatly assists with event planning. An accurate headcount is the best guarantee we have of ensuring that everyone gets their fill and is able to enjoy the full variety of food provided.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I-5 Willamette River Bridge Open House

Rendering of proposed I-5 Willamette River Bridge

I am privileged to serve as a member of the Design Enhancement Panel (DEP) for the new I-5 Willamette River Bridge replacement project in Eugene-Springfield. My involvement is a direct outcome of the “Whilamut Passage” design workshops that AIA-SWO produced last February.

The Design Enhancement Panel’s role is to ensure that aesthetic design details for the new Willamette River Bridge and surrounding area are interpreted in a cohesive way. The DEP also advises the bridge designers (OBEC Consulting Engineers) on matters of aesthetics, which included the selection of three Art & Design Teams (ADT). Each of the ADT is responsible for development of concepts based on the DEP’s interpretation of the overall design theme.

As I wrote previously, the February workshops revealed that the project is about a confluence of many things. There are layers of history, varying physical strata in three dimensions and more, multiple scales, intersections of paths of travel, motion, time, and relativity. The project is about telling the story about a place that is richer than any one of us imagined prior to our being involved with the project. We learned that there need not be a singular, iconic feature. We concluded that we should not winnow the ideas developed in the workshops to too small a number.

The money identified by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) as the premium available to tell the story is being distributed appropriately to three separate “bundles” to ensure that the complete outline of the narrative is legible. Each of the three ADT is responsible for one of the bundles:

Bundle 1: Above-Deck Elements
ADT: Lando & Associates with Buster Simpson

Bundle 2: South Bank
ADT: Greenworks pc

Bundle 3: North Bank & Whilamut Natural Area
ADT: Litus LLC

ODOT has challenged the ADTs with lofty expectations, limited resources, and a demanding timeline. Building upon the results of the AIA-SWO charrette, the teams are reconciling art as structure for the landscape, and the use of landscape as part of the art. They are struggling with how to celebrate what was there before and how to create a framework to tell the “Whilamut Passage” story. The ADT have been communicating with a broad spectrum of project stakeholders, which includes ODOT, the cities of Eugene and Springfield, the Citizen’s Advisory Group, the Whilamut Natural Area’s Citizen’s Planning Committee, and local neighborhood associations. The ADT are also working collaboratively with one another, exploring the spatial and temporal intersections between the bundles.

ODOT wants everyone’s opinion about the design enhancement concepts. Accordingly, it is hosting a public open house for the I-5 Willamette River Bridge replacement project from 5 PM to 7 PM Tuesday, December 15, at the Eugene Water and Electric Board headquarters at 500 East 4th Avenue in Eugene.(1)

The public is invited to drop in anytime during the open house to learn more about the bridge replacement project and review and comment on the preliminary design work by the ADTs.(2) The public can also learn more about the construction schedule and the innovative work done so far. ODOT is also seeking information from anyone about the historic Eugene millrace, including photographs, documents, or oral history to share with the project team. This information will assist the Bundle 2 designers, Greenworks, with its development of the proposed riverside interpretive center on the south bank.

Along with the other members of the Design Enhancement Panel, I will be on hand to answer questions about the project. I look forward to seeing all of you at the open house.

(1) Persons who need special accommodation at the open house should call Suzanne Roberts at (503) 471-6824.

(2) ODOT will also post the initial ADT design concepts for the project bundles on its project Web site. People who are unable to attend the December 15 open house will be able to comment online between December 15 and 17.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beyond EEP

The next Eugene Emerging Professionals (EEP) meeting will take place this coming Tuesday, December 8 beginning at 5:45 PM. Plan to be at 2fORM's office, located at 121 Lawrence Street in Eugene. There will be pizza and drinks. (Please inform Mariko Blessing or Gabe Greiner if you plan to attend so that they can order enough pizza. Also, bring a few bucks for the pizza – and a few more if you want beer. Sends RSVPs to or

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting the group hopes to have a name other than EEP, which it considers too Eugene-centric. Right now the top contenders are:
  • OSNAP (which stands for the Oregon Society of Novice Architecture & design Professionals; or is it the Oregon Southwest region Network of Architecture and design Professionals, or maybe the O...Social Network....A...Posse?)
  • LEAP (does it need to stand for something? Perhaps not. Lane county Emerging Architecture and design Professionals)
  • (20) New Designers
  • Design Thread (there is some concern that this is too similar to the UO’s Design Bridge)
  • Design Spring (there is some concern that this is too similar to the UO’s Design Bridge)
  • Springboard
  • Momentum
The meeting will start with a fifteen minute discussion to introduce any brilliant new names everyone might have come up with since the last EEP meeting and discuss any concerns people have with any of the names. Following the discussion there will be a vote on the group’s name and then a design charrette for a logo. Bring your ideas!

Coincidentally, the program for the December meeting of our colleagues with the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute (WVC/CSI) is entitled “CSI’s Future: The Emerging Professional.” It will hopefully be an interesting presentation and may help the provisionally-named EEP figure out what CSI has to offer emerging professionals. The CSI meeting will occur December 10, 2009. The social hour begins at 5:30; dinner is at 6:30, and the program starts at 7:00. The cost for this meeting is $25 ($10 for students). Please RSVP by noon Monday, December 7 to

For more information about the activities of our local emerging professionals group, contact:

Mariko Blessing, Designer
Associate A.I.A., LEED Accredited Professional

2fORM Architecture
121 Lawrence Street
Eugene, OR 97401
t: 541.342.5777
f: 541.342.6128

Saturday, December 5, 2009

President’s Message – December 2009

Me at the I-5 Bridge charrette, one of the many AIA-SWO chapter events during 2009 (Erik Bishoff photo)

It’s hard to believe that almost an entire year has gone by since I first stepped into the position of AIA-Southwestern Oregon president. 2009, we hardly knew ye.

I’m pleased by all that our chapter has accomplished during the past twelve months. By my measure, we effectively upheld the American Institute of Architects Strategic Plan by increasing membership value, being the authoritative source, optimizing organizational performance, and serving as the credible voice for the profession. We laid a strong foundation for the future by more actively engaging emerging professionals and strengthening ties with the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts. We also stepped up our plans to host the 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference.

Ironically, the downturn in the economy may be a reason why our chapter has enjoyed a good measure of its success this year. The value of the AIA is most apparent during times when work is scarce and the challenges are sharply drawn. More of you have attended our monthly chapter meetings than ever before. Participation in our various committees has increased. The AIA-SWO chapter finances are sound. Most notably, our membership roll is larger today than it was when we entered 2009.

Our chapter’s achievements have not gone unnoticed: the Institute has asked AIA-SWO to deliver a presentation at the 2010 AIA Grassroots and Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. about how we managed to increase our membership (during a time when most every other AIA component was down in numbers) while also boosting participation and non-dues revenue. Our executive director, Don Kahle, will lead the AIA-SWO contingent to Washington next February. This group will include Paul Dustrud, AIA (2010 president-elect), Gabe Greiner, AIA (the recipient of a Northwest & Pacific Region “scholarship” to attend Grassroots), and Shawn Jenkins, Associate AIA (who is embarking upon a two-year term as the Region Associate Director). I know they’ll represent our chapter well before this national audience.

Certainly, a big reason for our success in 2009 has been the time and energy volunteered so generously by the members of the AIA-SWO board of directors and our various chapter committees. While there were many who made significant contributions this year, I’d like to recognize a few individuals in particular:

Mariko Blessing, Associate AIA: In her own quiet way, Mariko rallied our local emerging professionals so that they’re now more active than ever before. It’s essential to the long-term success of our profession and AIA-SWO that we engage our future leaders and nurture their development. Mariko helped orchestrate the many intern tours of projects under construction, administered the IDP library, and co-produced the UO Reverse Crit. Along with Gabe Greiner, AIA, Mariko formally organized the emerging professionals (EP) group. The EP will figure prominently at the 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference, where it will host a “Pecha Kucha” night that’s sure to be a hit.

John Lawless, AIA: A leader among (old) leaders, John championed the AIA-SWO Past Presidents Committee as a reservoir of wisdom, intelligence, and experience in the service of our community. Toward this end, he sought to generate real dialogue among AIA-SWO members about issues of topical importance, such as Eugene Planning Commission representation, infill compatibility, access management, and opportunity siting. For John, what’s at stake is AIA-SWO’s voice: its tone, authority, impact, and credibility. Under his guidance, we have an emerging “think tank.” The next step will be to broaden the conversation and the audience.

Lana Sadler, AIA: Most AIA-SWO members are probably unfamiliar with the effort required to secure AIA Continuing Education System endorsement for the programs we offer at our monthly chapter meetings, educational seminars, and design charrettes. Lana has cheerfully taken on this challenge. For every course we offer, she compiles and submits the learning objectives, and satisfies the other criteria required for AIA-CES sanction. This effort is not insubstantial as the approval process is much more complex than it was just a few years ago. Without Lana’s diligence we could not have delivered the convenient, high quality, continuing education opportunities we did during 2009.

Linn West, AIA: Linn was Mr. Everything for our 2009 Design Awards program, a veritable dynamo as committee chair, job captain, event planner, salesman, chauffer, chief cook, and bottle washer. He marshaled the staff at Affolter, West & Jones Architects/Planners to line up our generous Design Awards sponsors, shepherded the Downtown Athletic Club dinner crew, and served as concierge for our distinguished jurors. I’m grateful for all that he did to make the program the great success that it was. I also look forward to Linn doing the same for our production of the AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Design Awards in 2010.

Thanks to Mariko, John, Lana, Linn, and all the other AIA-SWO volunteers for their invaluable contributions during 2009!

AIA-SWO Chapter Dues Discount
Did you know that our chapter allows its full and Associate members to discount their local portion of AIA dues by fifty percent? Here’s the deal: simply mark on your 2010 renewal form “VOLUNTEER” and reduce the local portion of your payment by half. Unfortunately you must renew by mail to receive the discount. Our chapter is ahead of the curve with this innovative program; the AIA hasn’t yet incorporated this option for its on-line renewals.

If you agree to lend us some of your time and energy, we’ll find an opportunity that suits your skills and schedule. 2010 will be a busy year for us. We anticipate at least one design charrette, along with our usual presence at the Eugene Celebration and other initiatives that raise design awareness and excellence in our community. Of course, we’ll welcome all the help we can get for the 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference, which will take place here in Eugene, October 13-16.

We started this tiered dues structure a few years ago and it has helped instill our chapter with a vibrancy that adds value to AIA membership for everyone, regardless of the amount you pay. We try to make sure every assignment we give to members is meaningful and enjoyable. Whether you pay the full amount, or offer your time in return for a discount, we’ll use what you give to make our profession more visible, viable, and valuable to our community.

A special note to Associate members: We especially want our emerging professionals to be involved and to feel welcome. To counteract any financial pressures you may be facing, we’ll send you coupons for two regular chapter meeting dinners (worth $10 each) if you return your renewal by January 15, 2010. The board of directors approved this special investment in Associate members for the year ahead.

Please consider availing yourself of the dues discount and volunteering some of your time to AIA-SWO activities. Not only will you save yourself some change, you’ll also contribute to furthering the success of our chapter. There are numerous committees that would welcome your participation. The areas of focus include the following:
  • 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference
  • Educational seminars
  • Local affairs (as spearheaded by the AIA-SWO Past Presidents)
  • Membership
  • Monthly programs
  • People’s Choice awards
  • Register-Guard insert
  • Residential architecture (the Congress Of Residential Architecture)
  • Walnut Station charrette

If you are interested in participating in one of our committees, please feel free to contact me or any of the 2010 AIA-SWO board members. You will also find sign-up sheets for the committees at our December holiday party.

AIA-SWO Holiday Party
Speaking of our holiday party, the 2009 edition will take place on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at the Mid-Town Arts Center. The festivities will begin at 5:30. There’ll be plenty of tasty food, libations, entertainment, and warm company to enjoy. Look for your e-mailed invitation to the party and RSVP to be sure you don’t miss this special event. Bring your good cheer and have a jolly time!

The Setu Chair

Our December AIA-SWO program sponsor is Herman Miller, the international leader in ergonomic chair design. The company has generously donated to our chapter one of its new Setu office chairs. The Setu only comes with one adjustment (height) as it features an innovative Kinematic Spine that allows it to naturally flex and bend with your every movement without any knob tweaking. The kinematic spine works together with a Lyris seating suspension material that conforms to your body’s contours while providing aeration and minimizing heat build-up. The donated chair (list price: $750) will become the property of the highest bidder in a silent auction at our Holiday Party. Proceeds from the auction will support AIA-SWO activities that benefit all members.

This is my last AIA-SWO President’s Message, but I will continue to comment on chapter activities on my SW Oregon Architect blog. You can find it at

As of January 1, Michael Fifield, AIA will be your new AIA-SWO president. I have no doubt that Michael will do a tremendous job on behalf of our chapter. He is intent on realizing a vision wherein the AIA-SWO comes to mind first when people seek expertise about the future of the built environment in our chapter area. His agenda includes the promotion of “smart growth” strategies and actively partnering with local government agencies to advance meaningful solutions to urban design dilemmas. He is a forward-looking activist, an academic and a practitioner, and a proponent for expanding the public dialogue about architecture. With Michael at the helm, I expect AIA-SWO to thrive in 2010.

Randy Nishimura, AIA
2009 President, AIA-Southwestern Oregon

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Walnut Station Mixed Use Center

The City of Eugene, in cooperation with the University of Oregon and the State of Oregon, is nearing completion of its draft plan for the “Walnut Station” mixed-use center. Walnut Station is the name of an EmX transit stop located in the vicinity of the university’s Matthew Knight Arena, now under construction. It is also an area congruent with much of the Franklin Boulevard corridor that was a focus of AIA-Southwestern Oregon’s highly successful 2007 AIA150 Blueprint for America: Bridging Communities workshops.

The City invites everyone to attend a public open house to see the draft plan and provide feedback. Here are the meeting details:

Date: December 10, 2009
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 PM (presentation at 6 PM)
Location: Eugene Public Library, Bascom/Tykeson Room

The open house will be of particular interest to members of AIA-SWO because the City has asked our chapter to evaluate its proposed form-based code for Walnut Station. The City’s objective is to define an ideal urban form that reflects our community’s vision for a vibrant, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. At the same time, the City recognizes that the form-based code must respect property owners’ development rights and help them realize the area’s development potential.

AIA-SWO’s strategy is to conduct a design charrette that will task participants with challenging the limits of the form-based code. The goal will be to provide useful feedback as the City moves forward with rolling out the Walnut Station development plan. Look for more details about the Walnut Station charrette from AIA-SWO early in 2010.

Can’t make the open house? Presentation and comment forms will be available at

For more information please contact Lydia McKinney at or by phone at (541) 682-5485.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living - watercolor by Sam Rusek

As was the case in November 2008, the program for this month’s AIA-SWO chapter meeting featured the current research being conducted by members of the faculty of the School of Architecture & Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. An objective of the AIA-SWO chapter board is to sustain a mutually beneficial relationship between the School and local professionals. Showcasing the work of leading faculty at one of our chapter meetings each year is a means toward this end.

The November 2009 issue of Architectural Record includes a timely report about the ranking of the nation’s best architecture schools as compiled by DesignIntelligence (the bimonthly journal of the Design Futures Council). The University of Oregon is ranked seventh among undergraduate programs in architecture, and holds the top spot in the sustainable design practices and principles skills area. Oregon also scored highly for analysis and planning, ranking fifth among all schools of architecture.

Two of the up-and-coming faculty members who have contributed significantly to the high regard in which the School of Architecture & Allied Arts is held are Roxi Thoren, AIA, and Nico Larco, AIA. The research performed by Roxi and Nico exemplifies the interdisciplinary efforts that are increasingly prevalent on campus. Both are tackling “big picture” issues, such as ecology and urban development, in partnerships with environmentalists, public policy planners, and economists. Their work is largely freed from the political encumbrances that otherwise burden similar investigations performed by those outside of academia. This independence allows them to pursue research that is far-reaching, and will ultimately be of greater benefit to the architectural profession.

Roxi Thoren
Roxi holds a joint appointment in both landscape architecture and architecture at the University of Oregon. Her work addresses cultural identity and material production, sustainable design practices as they relate to post-industrial sites, and best practices research. She has spent considerable time conducting research in Iceland, particularly with respect to how the unique environment has shaped the island nation’s architecture. Her visits there lead her to believe that Iceland’s isolation, geology, geography, and history have all contributed to distinct landscape strategies in contemporary Icelandic architecture; the applicable lesson is that one must see any place honestly, without nostalgia or apology.

Example of contemporary Icelandic architecture

Much of Roxi’s work stateside has addressed the ethics of production and strategies for action. The prevalence of “drosscapes” – wasteful, waste, or wasted lands – has prompted her focus upon rehabilitation of post-industrial sites. She has led design studios that have explored emerging treatment processes, best practices for amelioration of contaminants and noxious waste, and the potential for revenue generation inherent in such best practices.

Roxi is also committed to greening the education of future leaders in architecture. In addition to teaching the Context of the Profession class, she is spearheading the development of the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living (CASL). This is a real-world, design-build project that will provide students with hands-on technical experience. The goal of the project is to inspire ecologically and socially conscious living practices through experiential learning. The CASL project will:

  • Demonstrate low-impact life style choices and home design features
  • Offer experiential learning experiences
  • Function as a multi-faceted research facility
  • Minimize non-renewable energy consumption to nearly zero
  • Maximize materials efficiency and become water self-sufficient
  • Demonstrate how low-environmental impact can intersect with aesthetically pleasing design options and economic affordability

Nico Larco
Nico is one of the directors(1) of the Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI), which is an interdisciplinary research program within the School of Architecture & Allied Arts focused upon ecology and urban development, transportation, and the governance of green cities. The goals of the SCI include:

  • Conducting multidisciplinary research to meet local, regional, and national goals for sustainable city design and function
  • Providing service and technical assistance to Oregon and beyond
  • Attracting and training the nation’s best students interested in the design and policy of sustainable cities
  • Engaging national experts in a mutually beneficial discourse and exchange of ideas

The SCI brings students from complementary disciplines together to form an integrated and focused exploration of issues connected to the sustainable city. The goal is to encourage understanding of sustainability issues across multiple scales and disciplines.

Nico’s interests lie in medium to high density urban design, particularly as it relates to the sustainability of suburban development. His current SCI project focus is rethinking transportation options in suburbia – “low-hanging fruit” by his measure. How can suburban multifamily housing be built in a less auto-dominant way? Would better urban design yield a reduction of auto trips and an increase in pedestrian and bicycle usage? Are there strategies available to improve coordination between land use planners, architects, developers, and transportation planners in the design and construction of suburban areas?

Riviera Village, Eugene - A poorly connected multifamily housing development

Heron Meadows, Eugene - A better-connected multifamily housing development

The reality is that much of suburbia as is it constructed today is comprised of overlooked density. Nico and his research team have discovered that relatively minor changes to site planning for suburban multifamily housing and strip mall developments can have a dramatic impact upon how people choose to get from point A to point B. Yes, it is possible to walk in suburbia. All it takes is for developers to implement simple and inexpensive design strategies that improve pedestrian connectivity and build upon the latent potential for more walking and cycling already inherent in our current development patterns.

The substantial benefits of “active” travel include improved health (calories burned, obesity reduction) and lessened environmental impacts (fewer vehicle miles traveled and reduced greenhouse gas emissions). The young and the elderly are also less reliant upon others if walking is a viable transportation option. With only one additional trip per week per capita switched to active travel in the U.S., we could achieve a yearly reduction of ½ billion vehicle miles traveled, save 22 million gallons of fuel, and prevent the emission of 5.5 million pounds of CO2. The annual savings to American households would total $59.5 million. Active travelers would burn 21 billion calories more than if they chose to drive to their destinations instead.

A common sight: suburban multifamily housing and adjacent strip mall

I have no doubt that we will be hearing much more about the important research that both Roxi and Nico are engaged in. This is a propitious time for the University of Oregon, already well-positioned as a leader on sustainability. The efforts of faculty members within the School of Architecture & Allied Arts to more broadly address the complexities of the challenges that confront us will ensure that Oregon retains that mantle for the foreseeable future.

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Thank you to the AIA-SWO members in attendance at our November chapter meeting who unanimously approved amending our chapter bylaws to modify the composition of the AIA-SWO board. The change to Bylaws Article 6.02 increases the permissible number of at-large directors from one to three, as dictated by circumstances or desire. In addition, the director positions are now open to both full and Associate members. The addition of two at-large director positions that may be occupied by Associate members will never result in a majority of the board being non-licensed individuals (the other board members would be the past president, president, president-elect, treasurer, secretary, and intern director). The maximum allowable size of the board is nine, with no less than five members being licensed Architects.

We also conducted our board election at the meeting. Your 2010 AIA-SWO board is as follows:

President: Michael Fifield, AIA
President-Elect: Paul Dustrud, AIA
Secretary: Patricia Thomas, AIA
Treasurer: Linn West, AIA
Director 1: Richard Bryant, AIA
Director 2: Mark Gillem, AIA
Director 3: Mariko Blessing, Associate AIA
Intern Director: Shane McCloskey, Associate AIA
Past-President: me

Congratulations to all of our incoming board members!

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Much to my surprise, I was the winner of this month’s raffle prize drawing (no, I didn’t draw my own name; Roxi Thoren plucked my number out of the hat). I won a $25 gift certificate to The Green Store, which I will certainly put to good use. The Green Store was also our November program sponsor, so I am doubly grateful for their support of AIA-SWO. 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!

(1) The other SCI directors are Marc Schlossberg and Robert Young, both faculty members with the Department of Planning, Public Policy & Management in the School of Architecture & Allied Arts. Marc’s research emphasis is upon pedestrian-scaled urban form and community empowerment. Robert’s focus is green cities, and environmental and economic policy and planning. Robert was the speaker for our March 2009 AIA-SWO chapter meeting program.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LEED for Homes

The Sage, a LEED Platinum home in Eugene, designed by Arbor South Architecture (photo credit: Mike Dean Photography)

The Eugene Branch of the Cascadia Region Green Building Council is pleased to present Eli Volem of the Earth Advantage Institute, who will speak on the subject of LEED for Homes on Thursday, November 19, in Eugene.

LEED for Homes is a voluntary rating system that promotes the design and construction of high performance green homes. Green homes use less energy and water, fewer natural resources, create less waste, and are healthier and more comfortable for occupants. Benefits of a LEED home include lower energy and water bills, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and minimal exposure to mold, mildew, and other indoor toxins. LEED certification recognizes and rewards builders for meeting the highest performance standards, providing homeowners with confidence that their homes are durable, healthy, and environmentally friendly. In this presentation, participants will be introduced to the standards and principles required for LEED for Homes certification.

Eli Volem provides an Earth Advantage presence within the Energy Trust of Oregon's New Homes program. He is a certified RESNET HERS Rater, LEED for Homes Green Rater, and ENERGY STAR Homes Verifier, and primarily assists builders with building energy efficient, durable, healthier, and more environmentally responsible homes through Earth Advantage, ENERGY STAR Homes, and LEED for Homes certification programs. He provides technical training and support in the field from planning through construction, and sales and marketing support through the sales process.

If you'd like to attend the LEED for Homes lecture, please RSVP to Jenna Garmon, green building analyst at the City of Eugene by phone at (541) 682-5541 or by e-mail to The presentation will take place Thursday between 12 PM - 1 PM, in the Tykeson Room at the Eugene Public Library, downtown branch, 100 W. 10th Avenue. There is no charge to attend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A River Runs Through (Eugene)

Aerial view of the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) riverfront site.

Based solely upon attendance at the November 10 EWEB Riverfront Master Plan Design Options presentation, it’s clear that a broad cross-section of Eugene’s citizens want a say in the future of the city’s downtown riverfront. Well over two hundred people attended the public event, filling the EWEB community room to capacity.

EWEB's urban design consultant, Rowell Brokaw Architects, and the Community Advisory Team (CAT) did not disappoint, presenting three thought-provoking, alternative visions. Each scheme involves the development of connections between downtown and the Willamette River, as well as improvements to the riparian environment. All would employ sustainable design strategies, and propose ways to teach about our river, our history and our city.

Option 1: City Green

  • Concentrated public open space
  • Pavilions in the park
  • Internal public space away from river’s edge
  • Extension of city grid at site’s urban edges
  • Double and single-loaded primary street

Option 2: Organic Plazas

  • Internal public plaza at heart
  • Green extensions into city
  • Character developed around existing buildings
  • Backs of buildings on river
  • Internal double-loaded primary street

Option 3: River Bow

  • Layers of open space and paths at river edge
  • Fronts of buildings on river
  • Most publicly accessible riverfront
  • Green reaches into city on 5th and Ferry
  • Multi-modal festival street along river

It’s important to note that the options are representative of broad concepts only; Rowell Brokaw’s intention was to generate discussions about the place rather than necessarily settling upon a specific design direction.

All three options found their advocates among the enthusiastic community members in attendance at the meeting. The common thread was a desire for a more urban experience at the river’s edge. Many waxed poetically over the prospect of public access to the riverfront – of enjoying a cup of coffee al fresco while watching people and the river roll by; of working and living in a pedestrian-scaled, walkable precinct that is a reflection of their ethos. They imagined vibrant, people-oriented spaces, where they might engage in the life of the city. They recalled their fond experiences in other communities that embrace the rivers that run through them(1).

Some spoke of the unmatched potential of the EWEB site to resurrect the primacy of the Willamette River in the collective Eugene psyche. As central as the river was to our city’s identity during its formative years, it was clear to everyone at the Design Options presentation that this is no longer the case. EWEB’s vacation of its 27-acre property presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revive the downtown core by intensely developing and connecting it to the riverfront. Restoring the historic and structural importance of the river would abet efforts to seek identity and orientation. It is a key to reinforcing Eugene’s genius loci: the spirit of the place, that which we find most unique, distinctive, and cherish about our city.

Surprisingly (for Eugene at least) there were only a few individuals who expressed the opinion that any development along the riverfront is undesirable. While there are certainly many more who strongly believe that the river should only be restored to as natural a state as possible (read: humans are not welcome), they chose not to speak up or did not attend the meeting.(2) Those that did attend would undoubtedly acknowledge that EWEB, Rowell Brokaw’s team, the CAT, and the City of Eugene are intent upon protecting and enhancing the complex river ecology rather than harming it. The project’s guiding principles include developing habitat for species on and near the site, aligning riparian restoration with the river and site hydrology, and recognizing that the property is a part of the greater Willamette River watershed.

The EWEB site today, looking west toward the 5th Street Market.

I was impressed by the depth of consideration evident in the presentation. As a design challenge, this is an immensely complex undertaking. The physical constraints are numerous: the parcel’s history, its irregular shape, the necessary easements, the presence of site contaminants, and the scouring river itself. The points of connection to the existing urban fabric are limited, a consequence of the looming viaduct and the rail line along the property’s south boundary that forms a no-man’s land. And what should be done with the existing buildings on the site, particularly the old steam plant, warehouse, and vehicle maintenance shops? Are these structures worthy of preservation and adaptive reuse?

Under the viaduct.

Other challenges for EWEB and the designers include determining the correct mix of uses and a desirable balance between density and open space. They must satisfactorily address the vexing problems of parking and vehicle access (and how cars, cyclists, and pedestrians might all coexist peacefully). The team must also model a successful financial pro forma that provides some assurance of economic viability to prospective developers.

EWEB could answer the question of project feasibility in part if it developed a networked, ground-coupled energy loop that would serve the entire development. This would be an infrastructural improvement that it could finance by issuing long-term, general obligation bonds, a financing mechanism that is less practical for separate building developers. If EWEB made such an investment, it would secure a new income stream while eliminating the developers’ need to construct dispersed, less economical heating and cooling plants – a win-win situation.

I left the meeting questioning whether the density of development suggested by the concept images might be less than necessary to attract developers. Afterward, Greg Brokaw pointed out that the total floor area depicted with each of the options actually represents the equivalent of several Crescent Villages. The real question may be whether the Eugene market is large enough to absorb so much new commercial and residential space in the city’s core.

My hope is that whatever shape the EWEB Riverfront Master Plan takes, it will provide a blueprint for reviving Eugene’s downtown by giving people a reason to go there.(3) Ultimately, this might suggest that downtown’s center of gravity should shift toward the river. If this occurred, the City’s ongoing efforts to resuscitate the current core area would warrant reassessment. At the least, a successful riverfront development could provide an impetus for a more deliberate reinforcement of Eugene’s urban identity.

Visit the EWEB Riverfront Master Plan website regularly for project updates. The next public input meeting will occur in February 2010, when Rowell Brokaw will present the draft master plan.

All images in this post courtesy of Rowell Brokaw Architects.

(1) Register-Guard columnist Bob Welch beat me to the punch with his November 15, 2009 column about the future of the EWEB property that also riffed on the “River Runs Through It” theme. Darn you Bob Welch!

(2) A true restoration of the river at this site to its previous, natural state is impossible. Before the Willamette was altered by human activity, it followed an altogether different and mutable course. Today, the south bank of the river as it flows past the EWEB property is armored to prevent erosion and to preserve its current alignment.

(3) I’m echoing Bob Welch’s words in this regard. He asserts in his column that people have reasons to go downtown now, but the critical mass necessary to make it a vibrant place does not exist. A river connection will attract more people and make downtown a destination worth going to.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

EWEB Riverfront Design Options Meeting

As I reported in my October President’s Message, AIA-SWO members participated in a design charrette to brainstorm ideas for the future development of the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s 27-acre riverfront property. The utility intends to solicit the interest of developers for the unparalleled and historic site after its new Roosevelt Operations Center is completed in 2010. Toward this end, EWEB hired Rowell Brokaw Architects to lead a master planning process, which included the masterful orchestration of the October design charrette.

EWEB, its Community Advisory Team, and Rowell Brokaw hosted a very successful public meeting on September 30 to gather public opinion. The AIA-SWO charrette followed on October 3. The next public event is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10 from 6:00-8:30pm at EWEB's headquarters (500 East 4th Avenue in Eugene). Based on the feedback gathered at the first public input session, the charrette, and from project research, Rowell Brokaw Architects will present site design options at the meeting. The design team will use the response to the options from those who attend to develop a rough draft of the riverfront master plan.

If you want a say in how it may be possible to create a vibrant, active, multi-use “people place” along Eugene’s downtown riverfront, do not miss this presentation. E-mail to register for the meeting. Light refreshments will be provided. Assisted listening, Spanish translation, and other accommodations are available with advance notice.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

President’s Message – November 2009

Most of you who are AIA-SWO members probably read the notice I sent out last month announcing a proposed amendment to our chapter bylaws. To reiterate, the intent of the proposed change to Article 6.02 is to increase the permissible number of at-large directors on the AIA-SWO Board of Directors from one to three, as circumstances or desire dictate. In addition, the director positions would be open to both full and Associate members. The addition of two at-large director positions that may be occupied by Associate members would not ever result in a majority of the board being non-licensed individuals (the other board members would be the past president, president, president-elect, treasurer, secretary, and intern director). The maximum allowable size of the board would be nine, with no less than five members being licensed Architects.

AIA-SWO members who attend this month’s chapter meeting on November 18 at The Actors Cabaret will vote upon the proposed bylaws amendment. The amendment will only pass with the approval of at least two-thirds of the members present at the meeting.

Our current board believes that creating opportunities for additional AIA-SWO members to participate at the board level would enhance chapter governance. A case in point: it’s imperative that we capitalize upon the enthusiasm and energy of our nascent emerging professionals group by offering additional opportunities for leadership on the chapter board. Another: increasing the number of board members would mean that there is a greater likelihood that the breadth of our membership is fully represented. For example, we could ensure that at least one of the at-large director positions is filled by a member from outside the Eugene-Springfield metro area, which is exactly what we have planned for 2010.

Speaking of 2010, our slate of board candidates (which we will also present for election at our November meeting) for the coming year is comprised of the following outstanding individuals:

President: Michael Fifield, AIA
President-Elect: Paul Dustrud, AIA
Secretary: Patricia Thomas, AIA
Treasurer: Linn West, AIA
Director 1: Richard Bryant, AIA
Director 2: Mark Gillem, AIA
Director 3: Mariko Blessing, Associate AIA
Intern Director: Shane McCloskey, Associate AIA

Oh yeah, there’s also:

Past-President: me

Admittedly, this is putting the cart before the horse. We’re proposing a slate inclusive of candidates for the two additional at-large director positions even before our wished-for bylaws amendment is passed (should it fail to pass, we will present an alternative ballot at the November meeting). However, we are confident that you will recognize the potential benefits for the chapter underlying our proposal. If you ratify the amendment, our board would:
  • Include an “outlying” representative (Dick Bryant – Corvallis)

  • Enhance our ties with the University of Oregon School of Architecture & Allied Arts (Professors Michael Fifield and Mark Gillem)

  • Establish a direct conduit between the board and the City of Eugene (Trish Thomas – Eugene Metro & Community Planning)

  • Boost our efforts to engage our emerging professionals (Associate members Shane McCloskey and Mariko Blessing)
Such diversity would not be possible without increasing the number of our board members. Our chapter is growing (during this down economy very few chapters nationwide can make this claim) and we’re determined to match this growth by delivering even greater value to every one of our chapter members. As our executive director Don Kahle is fond of saying, we’re “building capacity” for the future of AIA-SWO.

I look forward to seeing all of you on November 18 at The Actors Cabaret in downtown Eugene. In addition to our vote on the proposed bylaws amendment and board election, the meeting will also feature presentations by members of the University of Oregon School of Architecture & Allied Arts faculty about their current projects. It’s sure to be a tantalizing look at the cutting edge of architectural research.

We're also reinstating our monthly raffle prize drawing for a chance to win a $50.00 gift certificate courtesy of The Green Store. 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.

Don’t miss this meeting!

Randy Nishimura, AIA
2009 President, AIA-Southwestern Oregon

For ease of reference, the proposed amendment to Paragraph 6.02 of Article 6 of the AIA-SWO bylaws is hereby presented:


6.02 Members. The Members of the Board shall be the Chapter Officers, the Immediate past President, Director, and Intern Director. The President of a Chapter Section shall be a voting, ex officio member of the Board. Except for the Intern Director, who shall be an Associate Member, all members of the Board shall be Architect Members as defined in Article 2. The President of a Student Chapter and the Component Executive shall be non-voting ex officio members of the Board.


6.02 Members. The Members of the Board shall be the Chapter Officers, the Immediate Past President, up to three Directors, and Intern Director. The President of a Chapter Section shall be a voting, ex officio member of the Board. The Intern Director shall be an Associate Member. The Chapter Officers shall be Architect Members as defined in Article 2. The President of a Student Chapter and the Component Executive shall be non-voting ex officio members of the Board.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cohousing: Sustainable Neighborhoods for the Future

Fresno Cohousing, by McCamant & Durrett Architects

Architect Charles Durrett argues that the friendlier and more fun a neighborhood is, the greener the lifestyle and the smaller the footprint. Durrett will share strategies for changing the way that we make neighborhoods during a presentation about cohousing at the University of Oregon on Wednesday, October 28, 2009.

Cohousing is a form of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Cohousing communities consist of private homes that contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common amenities such as open space and a common house for shared activities. A major aspect of cohousing is social sustainability, in addition to environmental and economic sustainability.

There are more than one hundred completed cohousing communities in North America, with hundreds more in various phases of development. The presentation will be a perfect opportunity to learn more about how cohousing communities benefit their residents, their cities, and the environment.

Along with his wife Kathryn McCamant, Durrett is co-author of "Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves." His cohousing design awards include the United Nations "World Habitat Award" and the National Association of Homebuilders “Best Smart Growth Neighborhood in the U.S.” He has been featured in Time magazine, The New York Times, and Architecture magazine.

Durrett’s presentation includes a slide show and is sponsored by the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts. The October 28 lecture will occur in Room 182 of Lillis Hall, on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. It will begin at 5:45 PM, and is free and open to the public.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Design Awards

Guests gather prior to the 2009 Design Awards Banquet

Our October AIA-SWO chapter meeting on Saturday, October 10 featured a special banquet and presentation of the 2009 Design Awards. The turnout was fantastic: 100 people showed up at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene to enjoy the evening’s proceedings and share in celebrating design excellence. The large attendance was in part attributable to the pent-up demand for an awards program since we last held one in 2005, and also because we once again partnered with the AIA-Southern Oregon chapter, which was well-represented at the event. Twenty-one different firms submitted thirty-five projects for consideration by our distinguished jury; eight projects received awards in the Honor, Merit, Citation, and Innovation categories.

As previously announced, the Design Awards Committee (more specifically, Michael Fifield) had assembled a jury that was truly of national, and even international, stature – one that would compare more than favorably with any other design awards jury at any level in recent years:

All three architects are universally respected for their design abilities, all having received widespread recognition for the sustained quality of their work over many years.

Unfortunately, David Lake was not able to make it to Eugene because all flights out of San Antonio on Friday were grounded by a severe electrical storm. His planned lecture at the University of Oregon was cancelled. Adding further to David’s frustration, Plan B – communicating with Laura and Bob by means of the Internet – also fell through because the Lake/Flato office servers were fried. We do appreciate everything David did in an attempt to participate and look forward to the possibility of seeing him in Oregon sometime in the near future.

In David’s absence, Laura and Bob ably shouldered their duties as jurors. Both Laura and Bob noted during their opening remarks at the banquet that agreement came easily on the projects they ultimately selected to give awards to. This was no doubt attributable to their mutual appreciation for design solutions that are thoughtful, site-responsive, well-detailed, and exhibit an economy of means.

Robert Hull, FAIA, and Laura Hartman, AIA

They noted that a number of projects submitted tended toward being too complex, to the detriment of their overall composition (there were a few “roof control issues” as Bob put it). More is not necessarily better; buildings can be calm, simple, and straightforward. Laura and Bob also saw through the heavy rhetoric found within some written project descriptions. It’s definitely better to get to the point and clearly convey your intended message without “over-texting.” Those projects whose presentations allowed Laura and Bob to immediately see the essence of the design problem and its solution were most successful.

Overall, Laura and Bob were impressed by the quality of the work submitted by AIA-SWO and AIA-SO firms. Laura spoke about the richness and breadth of building types represented by the entries, which she found inspiring and hopeful. All of those who submitted projects for consideration this year should be proud. The following are the 2009 AIA-Southwestern Oregon & AIA-Southern Oregon Design Awards recipients, accompanied by snippets of Laura and Bob’s comments:

Innovation Award:

State Office Building Remodel – PIVOT Architecture

  • Architects recognized that existing building had validity
  • Straightforward, elegant solution
  • "Traditional innovation"


Crescent Village East & West – Rowell Brokaw Architects

  • Restrained, sensible, very well done (especially for a project of this type)
  • Demonstrated understanding of scale and urban-ness
  • Beautiful in-between spaces

Arlie & Company Corporate Office – Rowell Brokaw Architects

  • Worked well with daylight
  • A place where you'd want to work
  • An inventive use of materials
  • A good example of modernist design

Merit Awards:

Bus Rapid Transit EmX Stations – PIVOT Architecture

  • Kit-of-parts deal w/specific conditions at each station
  • Efficiency of fabrication: one component used in different ways
  • An industrial design piece in the urban environment

Minimal Live/Work Studio – Fifield Architecture + Urban Design

  • Modest, spare
  • Everything counts
  • A beautiful little project

LTD Gateway Station – Rowell Brokaw Architects

  • A system and a kit of parts
  • Components adjust for different functions
  • Project connects the street and shopping mall through the sea of parking

Honor Awards:

Richard E. Wildish Community Theater – Poticha Architects

  • Extremely inventive
  • Tiered floor rises to become canopy
  • Works well inside and out
  • Speaks subtly to tradition in a valid way

Springfield Prototype Schools: Maple and Thurston – Mahlum in association with Robertson/Sherwood/Architects pc

  • A really beautiful project
  • Distilled, simple, not overly structured
  • A wonderful plan that keys outdoor spaces with indoor ones
  • Architects really knew what they were doing

In my opinion, the Design Awards banquet was, so far, the high-water mark of the 2009 AIA-SWO calendar. When we look back upon the year, we’ll recognize that everything that we’ve done has ultimately been with the goal of raising the bar. Toward this end, making design a regular topic of discussion has been a standing goal. We will promote the results of the program, furthering our efforts to be regarded as the credible voice for architecture in the public eye.

Design Awards Banquet Video:
The Eugene Register-Guard did film live streaming video of the Awards banquet. Regrettably, the URL for the video was not correctly publicized prior to the event. Therefore, few people, if anyone at all, watched it live online (I had believed that the Register-Guard was going to provide an easy-to-find link on its website). As I write this, you can watch the video at (once there, click on the “ON DEMAND” button and select the 51:20 minute clip at the top of the list). We’ll soon post the video to the AIA-SWO website as well.

The success of this year’s design awards program would not have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors. If you have the opportunity, please be sure to thank our sponsors and learn more about the products and services they offer.

Emerald Level:

  • Dea-Mor (with Solatube and Kalwall)

Jade Level:

  • Balzhiser & Hubbard Engineers
  • Herman Miller
  • KPFF Consulting Engineers
  • Oregon Helical Piers


  • Bell Hardware
  • Boise Cascade
  • Builders Electric
  • Interior Technologies
  • Lee Construction
  • Marquess & Associates, Consulting Engineers
  • Mid-Valley Glass & Millwork
  • Norman Distribution Inc.
  • Office World
  • Precision Engineering
  • Twin Rivers Plumbing

Finally, thanks to the members of the Design Awards Committee and the other volunteers who gave so freely of their time and energy:

  • Linn West – Chair
  • Michael Fifield
  • Bruce Richey
  • Renee Benoit
  • Don Kahle
  • Kent Affolter
  • Bryan Donovan
  • David Jones
  • Gabe Greiner
  • Dustin J.I. Capri
  • Amanda Rea
  • Richard Shugar

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009 is Blog Action Day 2009. I'm late to the game on this but I registered to participate nonetheless. Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. Past themes for Blog Action Day were the Environment in 2007 and Poverty in 2008. This year's issue is Climate Change.

The Blog Action Day 2009 website explains why climate change was selected as this year's theme:

Climate change affects us all and it threatens more than the environment. It threatens to cause famine, flooding, war, and millions of refugees. Given the urgency of the issue of climate change and the upcoming international climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December, we think the blogosphere has the unique opportunity to mobilize millions of people around expressing support for finding a sustainable solution to the climate crisis.

For the organizers at, the purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. They have asked bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on the subject of Climate Change. By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue.

For my part, I'm drawing attention to this social change event and highlighting my past posts on the subject of global warming and climate change. By doing this, folks that have not previously read what I had to say on the topic can conveniently find my relevant posts. I wish I had time to write more on this important subject but it just isn't available to me at the moment.

Blog Action Day is an opportunity to witness the power of participatory journalism marshaled toward a common cause. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.

Monday, October 5, 2009

President’s Message – October 2009

EWEB Riverfront Master Plan Charrette: One proposal for the EWEB site

The cool nights and cloudy days have returned. The colors of the leaves on trees are changing. It’s definitely fall, which means it’s a very busy time of year for our chapter. Hot on the heels of the People’s Choice Awards exhibit at the Eugene Celebration and the unveiling of our 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference logo and promotional video in September, we have an eventful October. While a chill wind may signal colder weather ahead, your AIA chapter is still just warming up.

Here’s a rundown about what we have in store for October (so far):

October 3: EWEB Master Plan Charrette (complete)
The month has already started on a high note, as this past weekend’s EWEB Riverfront Master Plan Design Charrette was a very well-attended and exciting event. Sixty-five participants (including dozens of AIA-SWO members) were organized into eight teams. Each team developed its own unique notions about the future of this important site.

The goals for the charrette participants were the same as those being pursued by the master planning process led by Rowell Brokaw Architects:
  • Create a vibrant, active, multi-use “people place” along Eugene’s downtown riverfront
  • Develop the connection between downtown and the Willamette River
  • Be sensitive to the environment
  • Use sustainable design strategies
  • Propose ways to teach about our river, our history, and our city

The most significant payoff for EWEB may be that participating AIA-SWO members left the charrette with a much better understanding of the issues and opportunities associated with the riverfront property. Those who took part are now more likely to be advocates for the master plan that the Rowell Brokaw team will ultimately present.

This was the third charrette our chapter helped to produce in 2009 (following the I-5 bridge design workshops in February and the Corvallis Urban Stream charrette in June). All three were successful, but I found the EWEB charrette especially satisfying. This is because EWEB’s pending move presents our best chance yet to establish a positive relationship between Eugene’s core and the Willamette River. It was great to make a small contribution toward this effort.

Thanks to EWEB, in particular property/project manager Mark Oberle, for inviting AIA-SWO to assist Rowell Brokaw Architects with the production of the charrette. And thanks to Rowell Brokaw for championing AIA-SWO’s involvement and orchestrating a successful workshop.

October 8: The Oregon Day of Culture
See my previous post about this event, which will take place at the Midtown Arts located at 1590 Willamette Street, Eugene, OR 97401.

October 9: Register-Guard Insert
The annual AIA-SWO Eugene Register-Guard insert reaches the newspaper's 174,000 readers and has proven an excellent vehicle for promoting the expertise of local architects and landscape architects. For 2009, our goal is to explain why design matters and how great architecture does not happen by accident. Toward this end, the insert will showcase the winners of the 2009 People’s Choice Awards, as well as highlight the 2009 AIA-Southwestern Oregon and AIA-Southern Oregon Design Awards banquet, which will take place this coming Saturday, October 10. Of course, the insert will also feature the many AIA-SWO and ASLA firms who are participating this year. Look for the insert in this Friday’s paper; if you’re not a Register-Guard subscriber, be sure to pick up a copy at your local newsstand!

October 9: Lecture by David Lake, FAIA
See my previous post about David Lake's lecture, which will take place at 177 Lawrence Hall on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, at 5:30 PM on October 9, 2009.

October 10: 2009 Design Awards Banquet
The October AIA-SWO October chapter meeting promises to be a special night at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene. The 2009 AIA-Southwestern Oregon and AIA-Southern Oregon Design Awards program will feature both the winning projects and insightful commentary from a truly distinguished panel of jurors. Don't miss this opportunity to honor our peers and celebrate architectural design excellence!

The 2009 AIA Design Awards program is produced with the generous support of our sponsors, led by DeaMor. If you have the opportunity, please be sure to thank all of our sponsors and learn more about the products and services they offer.

Dinner, Program Cost:
  • AIA members and guests: $30.00
  • Students & Associate AIA members: $15.00

Please RSVP by noon, Thursday, October 8, 2009 by clicking on the link below:

October 10: Streaming Video on The Register Guard Website
Don’t forget that we’ll be broadcasting, via the Internet on The Register-Guard’s website, live streaming video of the October 10, 2009 Design Awards presentation. During this broadcast, viewers will see the recipients of the 2009 AIA-SWO and AIA-SO Design Awards as they are identified. Our jurors will provide commentary on their selection criteria and process. If you cannot attend the Design Awards banquet in person, be there virtually!

October AIA-SWO Intern Tour: The SAGE

October 14: AIA-SWO Intern Tour
The next AIA-SWO Intern Tour will take place on Wednesday, October 14 and feature The SAGE, designed by Arbor South Architecture. The SAGE is Eugene’s first LEED Platinum home. As of July 2009, it had the distinction of being the highest-scoring LEED home west of the Rockies. The home features passive solar heat, night-time natural cooling, a heat recovery ventilator, sustainable materials, including the flooring, countertops and cabinets, redwood siding from the Cuthbert Amphitheater, and more.

The SAGE is located at 1261 Crenshaw Road in Eugene. If you’re interested in joining the tour, be sure to RSVP no later than noon on Monday, October 12 to Mariko Blessing at or 342-5777.

* * * * * * * *

Look for another message a little later this month, which will list our slate of candidates for the 2010 AIA-SWO board positions. The message will also include a proposed chapter bylaws amendment. Both the board election and a vote on the proposed amendment will occur at our November 18, 2009 chapter meeting.

Randy Nishimura, AIA
2009 President, AIA-Southwestern Oregon