Sunday, July 5, 2009

President’s Message – July 2009

As I write this, signs of economic recovery in Oregon remain faint. The employment reports are lousy: Oregon holds the dubious distinction of having the second highest unemployment rate in the nation after Michigan. Nevertheless, I am guardedly optimistic for the future of our state and our profession. The deep recession is compelling us to rethink how we do things as a society and awakening us to a new paradigm, where profligate consumption is replaced by prudent conservation. A greater urgency is also building toward real action on issues such as global warming and healthcare reform. While this action may occasionally be stymied by fiscal realities (particularly at the state level), it’s clear to most that it is inevitable.

I’m optimistic because our communities will increasingly seek creative and visionary thinking. As architects, we possess education and training that have honed creativity and problem-solving skills. We are, almost by definition, futurists. We should embrace the idea that our profession is eminently suited to help restructure and revolutionize how humanity exists on this planet. We should actively assume the role of leaders, both at the level of the AIA and as individuals, to effect positive change. As architects, we have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of many others through the projects we design.

The recession has been difficult for many of our member firms. Thinking positively again, I’d like to believe that AIA-SWO architects and interns have found a silver lining of motivation and opportunity within this depressed economy, rather than disappointment alone. This is where the AIA can play a part. We’re doing what we can to be a credible voice on issues of importance to the built environment. We’re advocates for legislative changes that favor sustainability, such as mandates for rigorous energy standards and compact growth. We’re also a resource for professional development, offering continuing education opportunities that better prepare us for the challenges ahead. During a time like this, the value of AIA membership may be most evident.

Whether economic recovery for Oregon is around the corner or not, architects will be in the center of the discussion about how it might take shape. Look forward to capitalizing upon your unique knowledge and skill set, because it will be in demand.

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The remainder of my message this month is comprised of several news items, beginning with a sad note as we acknowledge the passing of one of our professional colleagues:

J. Dean Morris (1931-2009)
Longtime Eugene resident and architect J. Dean Morris died on June 30, 2009 at the age of 78 after a prolonged struggle with cancer.

Dean founded Morris & Redden Architects with Jim Redden in 1965. Notable projects that Dean helped to design include TCI Cable, Cascade Fabrication, Springfield Country Club, Kahneeta Village Resort, Little Creek Heights Condominiums in Newport, and numerous homes at Sunriver. Prior to retiring in 2000, Dean and Jim expanded the partnership to become Morris, Redden, Affolter and West. The firm carries on today as Affolter, West & Jones Architects Planners AIA, pc.

As reported in The Register-Guard, Dean was born March 31, 1931 in Shamrock, Texas, to Henry and Florence Middleton Morris. He married Bebe Clark on November 24, 1950, in Eugene. He attended Eugene High School and received a bachelor of architecture degree from the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts. He served in the U.S. Army and worked for the Corps of Engineers.

A celebration of life in Dean’s honor will be held at 11:00 AM on July 20, at First Landmark Baptist Church in Springfield.

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Green Town at da Vinci Days
The results of “Visions for Dixon Creek” design charrette (conducted on June 27 at Belle Vallee Cellars in Corvallis) will be presented at the annual da Vinci Days festival in Corvallis, July 17-19, 2009. The exhibit will be part of “Green Town,” located on the lower campus area of Oregon State University. Green Town will showcase businesses and organizations that incorporate sustainability into their products, services, and practices.

The theme of this year’s da Vinci Days festival is water. Accordingly, the charrette examined the natural features associated with the Dixon Creek area between NW 10th Street through to NW 5th Street and how they interact with a multitude of land uses and transportation issues. The charrette participants produced several visions of how a more sustainable future in Corvallis might develop around this diverse and representative site.

Saturday at da Vinci Days will also feature “Green Views,” a series of short presentations packed with information to inspire and educate. At 1:40 PM, the charrette facilitators (Chick Gerke, Kristen Anderson, Tony Noble, and Lori Stephens) will formally present the results of the “Visions for Dixon Creek” exercise to the public.

AIA-SWO volunteers are needed to help staff the exhibit during the three-day run of the festival. If you’re interested in helping out, please contact Chick Gerke, AIA, at (541) 757-0554 or by e-mail at

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2009 Peoples’ Choice Awards
Each year, AIA/SWO sponsors the People’s Choice Awards, showcasing the design work of our membership. This program spotlights design excellence and demonstrates to the public what the architecture and landscape architecture professions provide to enhance the built environment. The public is asked to vote for their favorite designs in several categories during the Eugene Celebration (September 4-6, 2009). The votes will be counted and winners announced at the September Chapter Meeting. The winners will also be announced in the AIA/SWO Register-Guard Insert to be published later in September.

The benefits of participating in the Peoples’ Choice program include:
  • The public is provided with the opportunity to view your firm’s individual projects.

  • The picture and written description of the individual category winners are published in the AIA/SWO Register Guard Insert. A full-color version of the Register Guard Insert will also be posted on the Register Guard website for three additional months (through 12/31/09).

  • Boards will be displayed at Oveissi & Co. during the Eugene Celebration and at the Midtown Arts Center the week following. AIA/SWO is also pursuing other opportunities to display the boards throughout the end of 2009 at different locations in Eugene and Corvallis.

  • The picture and written description of all the winners will be posted on the AIA/SWO website.

  • The winners will be celebrated at the September AIA/SWO Chapter meeting and dinner.

Sometime later this month, we will publish the eligibility rules and entrance requirements on the AIA-SWO website and with the online program registration materials that will be broadcast to the AIA-SWO and ASLA memberships. Start making your plans now to submit your projects for the 2009 Peoples’ Choice Awards!

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2009 Design Awards
I reported previously that AIA-SWO is producing a juried Design Awards program for the first time since 2005. We’re partnering with AIA-Southern Oregon (as we did back in 2005), pooling our resources and assembling the best possible body of work for consideration by a jury of distinguished practitioners. Robert Hull, FAIA (The Miller/Hull Partnership, Seattle) and Laura Hartman, AIA (Fernau & Hartman, Berkeley) have agreed to be jurors, and we’re seeking a third, equally noteworthy designer to join them. The submission deadline for the Design Awards will be sometime early in October, with the Awards Banquet scheduled for Saturday, October 10, 2009. Look for more details soon!

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Our July Program: An Evening at Civic Stadium
This month’s chapter meeting carries on our tradition of a joint social event each July with the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the Eugene chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Join us on the evening of Thursday, July 23 (note the special meeting date) for an evening at Civic Stadium to watch the Eugene Emeralds take on the Boise Hawks. The program includes a pre-game barbeque on the right field deck (parallel to Willamette Street) featuring chicken breast sandwiches, salmon patties, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, whole kernel corn, seedless watermelon, soft drinks and domestic beer. We’ll announce the pricing, which includes both the barbeque and admission to the grandstand, with the meeting invitation about 10 days before the game.

The 2009 season may be the last for the Emeralds at Civic Stadium. If you wax nostalgic for the charms of this old-fashioned facility, don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the company of your professional colleagues and their families, good food, a warm summer evening, and America’s pastime all at once!

July Program Sponsor
I’m pleased to announce that our July 2009 program sponsor is Rubenstein’s, the Northwest’s leading source for commercial floor covering.

Rubenstein's has been actively engaged in the commercial floor covering industry for over 40 years. The company is one of the largest independent commercial floor covering dealers in the country. Rubenstein’s is a charter member of the Starnet® Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership, a member owned cooperative of the largest group of independent commercial floor covering dealers in the industry with over 160 member firms with 300 locations throughout North America.

Randy Nishimura, AIA

2009 President, AIA-Southwestern Oregon


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