Saturday, April 18, 2009

April AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

Celebration garden trellis, HIV Alliance, by designBridge

Our April chapter meeting presented another opportunity to forge connections with the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. It was our pleasure to feature the leaders of designBridge, a student-run organization that links the school with the surrounding community by providing design-build services to clients. The focus of designBridge is to bring the resources and energy of students to community organizations that recognize the mutual benefits of providing students with an opportunity to “get their hands dirty” on real-world projects.

Students volunteer their time and energy to designBridge. While academic credit is now available for participating (this wasn’t originally the case), the students have found that their efforts are rewarded in many other ways that are beyond measure. They engage in teamwork and experience firsthand the processes necessary to transform ideas from paper to reality. They also discover that mastering architecture and building is like studying a new language: the best way to learn is to be immersed in the process. designBridge offers that immersive experience.

The students seek projects and clients that share their commitment to sustainable design and green building practices. Current projects include the Moss Street Childcare play structure, the Roosevelt Middle School bicycle shelter, and a celebration garden for the HIV Alliance. Every designBridge project begins during the Fall academic quarter with the pre-design phase, followed in the Winter term by the designBridge studio. Projects may proceed to completion during the Spring, when the students get the chance to actually build some of their designs. Each project has a UO faculty member, a project manager, and depending on the size may include both a design leader and a build leader to make sure the project meets the client’s goals.

designBridge is a means to fill the gap between the students’ academic experience and future in the profession. It has attracted some of the best and brightest of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, becoming an effective training ground for student leadership. It has also fulfilled a need for pro-bono community design services; the organizations that designBridge has assisted have in return contributed to the shaping of the future of our profession. An additional dividend is a broader appreciation by the members of these client groups for the value of applying solid design processes and principles to even the humblest of projects.

Student Director Sylvan Cambier led the designBridge presentation. Sylvan asserted that because architecture encompasses so much knowledge, opportunities to pass along that knowledge from generation to generation must not be lost. designBridge is one such opportunity, and AIA-SWO members can contribute to the evolution and transference of professional wisdom via design reviews and mentorship. By making connection such as this, we help to ensure that our profession will remain vital for years to come.

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The May AIA-SWO chapter program will feature a presentation by Lisa Petterson, associate with SERA Architects in Portland and project manager for the Living Building Financial Study. Lisa will introduce the Living Building Challenge (LBC), the next big goal beyond LEED® (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Platinum. She will explain implications of the recently completed Financial Study and discuss how the Oregon Sustainability Center, a high rise office building in Portland, is striving to meet the Living Building Challenge. A former Southwestern Oregon chapter member, Lisa worked with Poticha Architects prior to moving to Portland.

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Our May AIA-SWO program sponsor will be the PPI Group, who offers a wide array of professional services to serve your CAD needs. The PPI Group is constantly talking with architects and provides a direct line to the latest information and enhancements coming out of Autodesk. PPI’s post-purchase support programs deliver value beyond the initial software purchase. PPI’s expert team can recommend the best tools to help a firm achieve its business objectives as efficiently and profitably as possible.

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