Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 Design Awards Deadline Extended

Springfield LTD Station - PIVOT Architecture (2005 Merit Award winner)

We are extending the Entry Form and Fee deadline for the 2009 Design Awards to 4:00 PM on Friday, September 11, 2009. You now have more time to announce your intent to enter this prestigious awards program. Seize this opportunity and proudly offer your best work for consideration by the members of our accomplished jury. Download the Intent to Enter form from the AIA-SWO website by clicking this link.

Our jury stacks up more than favorably when compared to any other assembled at the national level in recent years. It truly is outstanding: Laura Hartman (Fernau + Hartman Architects), Robert Hull (The Miller/Hull Partnership), and David Lake (Lake/Flato Architects) all are recipients themselves of numerous AIA design and firm awards (including AIA Firm of the Year in 2003 for Miller/Hull and 2004 for Lake/Flato).

Don’t forget that your first entry for the 2009 Design Awards also entitles you to a significant discount on the cost of purchasing space in the 2009 Register-Guard insert. The insert will be published on Friday, October 9, 2009. This date coincides with a lecture at the University of Oregon by David Lake. The insert will announce his lecture, as well as promote a live, streaming video presentation on The Register-Guard website of the 2009 AIA-SWO (and AIA-Southern Oregon) Design Awards ceremony on Saturday, October 10, 2009, featuring commentary from the jury. It’s all part of a coordinated program by AIA-SWO to promote the value of design excellence in our community by raising the public’s awareness of architecture and its impact upon all of us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

AIA-SWO Intern Tour: Springfield Jail

The AIA-Southwestern Oregon Chapter regularly organizes tours of projects under construction for the benefit of intern architects. The intent is to allow interns (who may not otherwise regularly visit construction sites) to see firsthand a project in progress. This month, the AIA-SWO intern tour features the Springfield Jail, designed by ROSSER International of Atlanta with my firm, Robertson/Sherwood/Architects, as architect-of-record. Here are the details:

What: Springfield Jail

When: Wednesday, September 9th at 12:00 PM (noon)

Where: Intersection of 4th Street and B Street, Springfield. (The Springfield LTD Station is only a few blocks away.)

Architect: ROSSER International of Atlanta, GA designed the new jail; Robertson/Sherwood/Architects is the architect-of-record


Project Description:
Now under construction, the new Springfield Jail is the second phase of the Springfield Justice Center project (the Police & Municipal Courts Building was completed in September of 2008). The Jail includes 35,000 square feet of space, which includes enough room for 100 inmate beds, making the new facility the largest municipal jail in the State of Oregon. Scheduled to achieve Substantial Completion in November, the new facility will house its first inmates (all of whom would be misdemeanor offenders) early in 2010.

The entire Justice Center is possible because of the support of the citizens of Springfield, who passed a ballot measure approving the issuance of general obligation bonds to finance its construction.

Please RSVP by noon Tuesday, September 8th to Mariko Blessing at or 342-5777.

Friday, August 21, 2009

August AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

Sidewalk in Olympia, WA, strewn with fallen parapet debris as a result of the 2001 Nisqually earthquake (photo courtesy of John Evans)

Are earthquakes real or are they myths spread by structural engineers looking for work? In all seriousness, they’re very much real and their impact upon the design of buildings cannot be underestimated by architects. This is particularly true when older, unreinforced masonry structures are involved. As our August AIA-SWO chapter meeting speaker John Evans, P.E. explained, the threat to life safety posed by earthquakes demands our attention.

John is a principal with Pillar Consulting Group, Inc. in Corvallis(1). He and his colleague Joe McCormick, P.E. delivered a comprehensive primer for architects who are involved with the design of renovations to unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings.

John began his presentation with a sobering account of the damage and death toll wrought by two recent tremblors. The December 2004 event in North Sumatra registered as a magnitude 9.1 earthquake. It resulted in 227,898 fatalities, many as a result of the devastating tsunami it would trigger along the landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean. The January 1994 Northridge, California earthquake killed sixty people and injured 7,000 more. While “only” a magnitude 6.7 quake, it caused $20 billion in property damage, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

The North Sumatra earthquake (the second largest ever measured) was caused by subduction. Subduction occurs when the boundary of one tectonic plate slides beneath another, suddenly releasing the strain associated with plate convergence. The Northridge occurrence was another type of earthquake, the product of a crustal fault.

Here in Oregon, we are at risk of experiencing earthquakes of both types. Fault-induced quakes occur more frequently; their magnitude seldom exceeds 6.5. Nevertheless, they can cause significant damage (such as during the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck Klamath Falls in 1993). The Cascadia subduction zone – the boundary where the Juan de Fuca plate is sliding beneath the North American plate – can generate a huge quake, as much as magnitude 9.0. The last known subduction event occurred in 1700.(2) They’re estimated to occur every 300 to 500 years, so we’re coming due again.


The bottom line is that there may be greater potential for seismic activity in our State than is often recognized by Oregonians. To minimize the risk to life and property, it behooves us to understand the effect of earthquakes and the lateral forces they generate upon the vulnerable, older building stock in our communities, particularly those constructed of unreinforced masonry.

John described two standards, ASCE-31, “Seismic Evaluation of Existing Buildings”, and ASCE-41, “Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings”, which have been constantly updated and are available to structural engineers to help address the problems posed by URM buildings. ASCE 31 provides a series of evaluation tools to evaluate the seismic adequacy of existing buildings. ASCE 41 defines three performance levels that serve as the basis of a rehabilitation objective: immediate occupancy, life safety, and collapse prevention.

Typical URM failures and their respective “fixes” include:
  • Falling parapets: Remove, brace, or core and reinforce vulnerable parapets to prevent them from falling
  • Walls failing out of plane: Add connections at the floors and roof; reduce the wall span; and/or add collapse supports at beams and columns.
  • Walls failing in plane (because of low shear capacity): Re-point mortar joints; apply sheets of fiber-reinforced plastic panels; and/or add a new lateral force resistance system.
  • Weak or soft stories: Add concrete shearwalls; add steel braced frames; and/or add steel moment frames.

Weak story damage in San Francisco as a result of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (photo courtesy of John Evans)

Our venue for the August chapter meeting – the Water Street Market in Corvallis – was a convenient example of a building that previously lacked adequate reinforcing and has been extensively upgraded to improve its earthquake performance level. Faced with a mandate to address seismic safety in a building over 90 years old, the owner turned to Pillar Consulting Group for assistance. The firm developed an investigation, testing and rehabilitation scheme to upgrade the building without displacing the tenants. Extensive field investigation and testing was required. Construction of the rehab measures occurred while the building remained fully occupied and functional. Exposed to view, the newly installed connectors, braces, and ties add visual interest to the original architecture. These new additions demonstrate that, approached creatively, URM improvements can be integrated successfully and attractively.

Drawing by Pillar Consulting Group describing retrofit measures for the Water Street Market building.

Thanks to John and Joe for this informative presentation to AIA-SWO. We had a nice turnout, as twenty-three members and guests were on hand to enjoy pre-dinner drinks from Belle Vallee Cellars on the outdoor patio, followed by the culinary delights prepared by the Aqua Seafood Restaurant inside the Market building. We plan on continuing our tradition of conducting one AIA-SWO chapter meeting each year in Corvallis. I’m looking forward to our future meetings in the heart of the valley!

(1) Pillar Consulting Group, Inc. is a professional engineering and design consulting firm, specializing in civil engineering, structural engineering, and industrial plant planning and design.

(2) From Wikipedia: "Evidence supporting the occurrence of the 1700 earthquake suggests that it took place at about 9:00 PM on January 26, 1700. Although there were no written records in the region at the time, the earthquake's precise time is nevertheless known from Japanese records of a tsunami that has not been tied to any other Pacific Rim earthquake. The most important clue linking the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in the Pacific Northwest comes from studies of tree rings which show that red cedar trees killed by lowering of coastal forests into the tidal zone by the earthquake have outermost growth rings that formed in 1699, the last growing season before the tsunami. Oral traditions describing a large quake also exist among the region's inhabitants, although these do not specify the date."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Become a Eugene Planning Commissioner!

Many AIA-SWO members are aware that John Lawless, principal with TBG Architects & Planners, has served on the City of Eugene’s Planning Commission for two consecutive four-year terms. His tenure (along with those of two other commissioners) is drawing to a close. Accordingly, the City of Eugene is seeking applicants to fill these vacancies. John is presently the only architect and AIA-SWO member on the commission; his presence and influence will be sorely missed once his term expires. The Planning Commission needs the professional perspective, education, and comprehensive understanding about issues related to the built environment that architects or landscape architects bring to the table. It should be our goal to ensure that the commission includes amongst its numbers at least one licensed design professional to represent the broad interests that we share.(1)

Volunteers who serve on the Planning Commission provide an invaluable service to our community. They advise the City Council and City staff on a variety of subjects by making recommendations on important policy matters affecting the livability of Eugene. Without their assistance, many complex and significant matters might not be brought to the City Council’s attention and risk receiving only a limited review. Now is an especially critical time for the Planning Commission to make a difference in Eugene’s future as the city is in the midst of many important projects that will define our community’s character for years to come.

Serving on a commission is an excellent way to participate in local government, and to contribute to the improvement of our community. The traits of an exceptional planning commissioner include interest in and commitment to:
  • Preserving important community resources for future generations
  • Promoting livability in the greater Eugene community
  • Facilitating wise public and private investments
  • Representing the city on behalf of all residents of the community
  • Learning and thinking critically about a broad range of land use planning issues
  • Connecting with different communities and considering the needs of all stakeholders
  • Collaborating and working toward consensus
  • Guiding and implementing land use policy and regulations, and related legal obligations

Planning Commission meetings are typically held during the day on Monday, with occasional Tuesday evening meetings.(2) If you are interested in learning more about being a planning commissioner, call John Lawless at 687-1010, or the City of Eugene’s planning director, Lisa Gardner, at 682-5208. Information about the commission may be found online at the City’s website. The City is accepting applications through September 18, 2009.

(1) There are nine positions on the Planning Commission; seven at large citizen positions and two ex officio positions. The Oregon Revised Statutes require that no more than two commissioners can be engaged in the same occupation, business, trade, or profession, including the buying and selling or developing of real estate for a profit. The two ex-officio members are staff who have content area knowledge. The Council appoints the seven at large members; the City Manager appoints the two ex-officio members.

(2) The Planning Commission meets 3-5 times each month.

Friday, August 7, 2009

AIA-SWO August 2009 President's Message – Part Deux

Last year's People's Choice exhibit at Oveissi & Co. (my photo)
Once a year, we focus our attention on how our profession is portrayed popularly. What do regular people think about architecture and architects? How can we influence those thoughts and how can we make that influence both deep and wide?

The fall is always the best time to influence habits in a college town, and positive changes are accomplished best in a positive atmosphere. We're fortunate to have become a significant anchor for the Eugene Celebration, staging our People's Choice Awards display inside the Oveissi & Co. store at the corner of Broadway & Willamette. We will once again be in the middle of the action for the Eugene Celebration this year -- September 5-7.

The winners of the People's Choice Awards (and its newer sibling, our Colleagues' Choice Award) will once again be announced in a special insert inside The Register-Guard. This effort has grown over the past few years, both in size and influence. It conveys to a large swath of the public that design professionals are active and vital to our community.

Looking down the road, our influence appears to be increasing. The public is becoming fluent in the value of “going green,” which is old-hat for most for most of us now. Society seems ready to embrace infrastructure investments during these difficult economic times. Now that the bubble has burst, people are once again valuing their homes and offices for their functionality and beauty – not only as an investment.

In short, now is the time for us to be visible and available for the general public. Whether they are remodeling their home, or expanding their business, or voting on a bond measure, or writing their legislator — it's important to us that they understand what they can expect from us and our buildings.

All of us benefit when the public’s awareness about the benefits of design excellence and the work of AIA architects is raised. This year, in addition to the People’s Choice Awards program and The Register-Guard insert, we’re also co-producing a juried Design Awards program with AIA-Southern Oregon, our first since 2005.

In previous announcements, I hinted at some surprises for you that deliver real value for all firms who participate in our awards programs and this year’s Register-Guard special newspaper insert. Here’s a summary:

2009 AIA-SWO Newspaper Insert (to be published in The Register-Guard)
We’re offering significant discounts this year to participating AIA-SWO firms or individuals who also submit entries to the People's Choice Awards or Design Awards programs. The offers are as follow and apply to the first entry to either program:

  • Firms that purchase any size ad in the insert and also submit an entry to either the People’s Choice Awards or Design Awards programs will receive a 15% discount on the price of the ad.

  • Firms that purchase any size ad in the insert and also submit an entry to both the Peoples’ Choice Awards and Design Awards programs will receive a 25% discount on the price of the ad.
I've asked Renee Benoit, our first-ever summer intern for AIA-SWO, to give you a call sometime during the next week, so we can tell the committee how much space to reserve in The Register-Guard. Please talk with Renee about what you'd like to see this year.

2009 AIA-SWO People's Choice AwardsRefer to the People's Choice Intent to Enter form, which will soon be posted on the AIA-SWO website, which details the submission requirements and the entry fees. As mentioned above, the submission of the first Design Awards entry qualifies the entrant for significant discounts on ads purchased for the 2009 Register-Guard insert. The deadline to submit the Intent to Enter form is Wednesday, August 26, 2009.

2009 AIA-Southwestern Oregon and AIA-Southern Oregon Design AwardsWe have assembled a truly outstanding roster of distinguished professionals for our 2009 Design Awards jury:
Napa Valley Museum - Fernau + Hartman (photo from the Fernau + Hartman website)

  • Laura Hartman, AIA – Fernau + Hartman, Berkeley, CA
    Laura Hartman and her firm Fernau + Hartman Architects have won numerous awards and been published widely. Laura has been profiled in numerous publications, including a substantial interview in GA Houses: 64. Laura frequently taught design and drawing in the Architecture Department at UC Berkeley in the 1980s and has since taught at the University of Utah and the University of Oregon, as the Pietro Belluschi Distinguished Visiting Professor. Also an artist, Laura’s paintings and collages have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Laura frequently serves on architectural design juries; she sat on the UC Berkeley Campus Design Review Board and is currently on the Sea Ranch Design Committee. Laura’s long term interest in vernacular buildings has recently led to research on the mining structures and landscapes of Appalachia.

    Lake Washington Residence - MillerHull Partnership (photo by Benjamin Benschneider)

  • Robert Hull, FAIA – The MillerHull Partnership, Seattle, WA
    Robert Hull established The MillerHull Partnership with David Miller in 1977. Since then, the MillerHull Partnership has become widely recognized as a design leader in the Pacific Northwest. The firm has received over 150 design awards in 30 years, including the 2003 Firm Award from the National American Institute of Architects. Robert’s work has appeared widely in national architectural journals and books and has been published in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Japan. The “10 Houses - The MillerHull Partnership” book by Rockport Press was published in 1999 and a firm monograph, “The MillerHull Partnership - Architects of the Pacific Northwest”, by Princeton Architectural Press was published in 2001.

    Bluffview Residence - LakeFlato Architects (photo from the LakeFlato website)

  • David Lake, FAIA – LakeFlato Architects, San Antonio, TX
    Along with business partner Ted Flato, David Lake runs San Antonio-based LakeFlato Architects, one of the nation’s preeminent architecture firms. David’s lifelong passion for Texas and the outdoors has shaped many of his design choices, from an emphasis on natural light and water efficiency to the use of salvaged and recycled materials. That commitment to sustainability is reflected in some impressive professional recognition. In 2006, two LakeFlato designs were selected by the AIA Committee on the Environment as Top Ten Green Projects—the first ever double win for a firm. The firm’s innovative redesign of the Pearl Brewery compound in San Antonio is a culmination of years of sustainable building experience. LakeFlato received the 2004 AIA Firm of the Year Award.
Regarding our Design Awards program, keep in mind that a prerequisite for eligibility in the annual AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Design Awards is that a submitted project must have already won an AIA chapter design award from a professional juried awards program. AIA-SWO is hosting the 2010 Region Conference; this year’s AIA-SWO and AIA-SO Design Awards program is your only opportunity to secure one of our chapter awards in advance of next year’s Region Conference.

Refer to the Design Awards Intent to Enter form, which will soon be posted on the AIA-SWO website. It details the submission requirements and the entry fees. For AIA-SWO members in particular, the submission of the first Design Awards entry qualifies the entrant for significant discounts on ads purchased for the 2009 Register-Guard insert. Again, read the RG insert info above for details. Like the Peoples’ Choice Awards, the deadline to submit your Intent to Enter form for the Design Awards is Wednesday, August 26, 2009.
Streaming Video on The Register Guard WebsiteWe want to capitalize on various forms of media to get our design excellence message in front of the public. An ideal forum is the opportunity to broadcast, 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. After the event, we will post an edited version on the AIA-SWO website. Our video may not quite achieve the viewership of the Academy Awards, but it’s a small step in that direction.
David Lake, FAIA

Lecture by David Lake, FAIAOne of our Design Awards jurors, David Lake, will present the work of his firm, LakeFlato, at the University of Oregon on Friday, October 9, at 5:30 PM. AIA members are eligible to receive one (1) AIA continuing education learning unit for attending David’s lecture, which will also be open to the public.

So there you have it: Our chapter is poised to make a splash and raise our community’s consciousness about design excellence and the contributions we make as design professionals. As I mentioned, Renee Benoit will be calling you soon about The Register Guard insert. And you'll soon be able to find the entry forms and eligibility requirements for the Peoples’ Choice Awards and the Design Awards programs on the AIA-SWO website. The deadlines for submitting your Intent to Enter forms for each of these events is Wednesday, August 26, 2009. This date is almost upon us, so don’t hesitate to sign up!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Holistic Creekside Design

Team "A" reviews its concept for the Dixon Creek site, June 27, 2009.

For those of you that missed it, AIA-SWO helped produce a successful community design charrette on June 27 in Corvallis. “Our Urban Stream Charrette" focused on Dixon Creek in Corvallis, specifically where it crosses below 9th Street. The goal was the creation of a collaborative design process and a robust vision for the site. The results were shared with the larger community of Corvallis at the da Vinci Days Festival, July 17-19, 2009.

The charrette involved seventeen participants organized into three teams. The challenge to participants was to collaboratively design a vision for specific places. The teams produced designs with many commonalities and differences. From all reports, it was a good process.

There were seven goals for the charrette participants to consider:

  • Improving creek visibility.

  • Increasing transportation alternatives within and throughout the site.

  • Providing infrastructure for local enterprises.

  • Improving water quality and habitat.

  • Creating a variety of transitions from public to semi-public to semi-private to private.

  • Creating an educational landscape that tells a story of Dixon Creek.

  • Creating a neighborhood identity i.e. "Creek Town".

With these objectives as a starting point, the three teams added their own lists of goals based on individual and professional experience. The results were varied, robust visions of and inspirations for a more sustainable future in Corvallis at this diverse and representative site. Organizer Chick Gerke, AIA, says that the event may become a model for a series of urban design workshops in Corvallis. These future charrettes could potentially lead to real plans of action and inspire new visions.

An urban stream concept.

Thanks to the members of the “Corvallis Design Group” for organizing and facilitating the charrette:

Chick Gerke, AIA - Charles R. Gerke, Architect
Lori Stephens, AIA - Broadleaf Architecture
Kristen Anderson - Emerald Forest Architecture
Tony Noble - Noble Urban Design

Thanks too, to Renee Benoit, our AIA-SWO summer practicum student from the University of Oregon, for her assistance with charrette logistics.

Tony Noble explains the results of the charrette to a visitor at da Vinci Days, July 19, 2009.

For more information about the results and to see additional images from the charrette, check out the Holistic Creekside Design Workshop blog at

President’s Message – August 2009

Even though the dog days of summer are upon us, this doesn’t mean that your AIA-SWO chapter has kicked back or taken a vacation. We’re busier than ever with plans to make this year’s People’s Choice Awards program and our annual Register-Guard insert the best ever. We’re also moving forward quickly with our preparations for the juried 2009 Design Awards program, which we are co-producing with AIA-Southern Oregon. As I mentioned in my July president’s message, 2005 was the last year that we produced the Design Awards, so I’m confident that we’ll see a bumper crop of projects all worthy of recognition from the distinguished jury we have lined up.

Watch for a special announcement with some significant surprises about combining your People's Choice entry with our annual Register-Guard insert. We're developing some exciting new ideas that may also include our Design Awards, scheduled for October 10. We're working hard to conserve your expenditures (both time and money) by identifying synergies between all three programs. We're less than a week away from finalizing all of the important details (honest!), but I didn't want to wait to get you this message.

* * * * * * * *

Our August Program: Seismic Upgrades
The August AIA-SWO meeting is our annual foray to Corvallis, so join us on August 19th as we break bread with our brethren in the heart of the valley. The evening’s speaker will be John Evans, PE, of Pillar Consulting Group, who will cover the subject of upgrading old, unreinforced masonry buildings to meet current lateral force resistance standards. John will present the topic from the perspective of a structural engineer. His goal is to help us understand the topic of seismic retrofits so that we may educate our clients and work more effectively with our engineering consultants.

The location of the August meeting will be the Water Street Market, located at 151 NW Monroe Avenue in downtown Corvallis. During our social hour, you’ll be able to sample wine on the outdoor patio from the Belle Vallee Cellars tasting room, and then enjoy a delicious meal selected from the menu of the popular Aqua Seafood Restaurant & Bar. Mark your calendars and look for the meeting invitation soon. See you in Corvallis on Wednesday, August 19th!

Randy Nishimura, AIA
2009 President, AIA-Southwestern Oregon

Region Associate Director

AIA-Southwestern Oregon is charged with nominating the next AIA-Northwest & Pacific Region Associate Director (RAD) at this September’s meeting of the Region board in Anchorage. This person’s two-year term would begin in January 2010 and carry through to the end of 2011.

The RAD would represent Northwest & Pacific Region Associate members at the national level by serving on the AIA National Associates Committee (NAC). He or she would also participate as a voting member on the AIA Northwest & Pacific Region board. One function of the position is to serve as a conduit between the national, regional, and local component levels of the AIA, and the Associate members of the region.

Other responsibilities would include participating in bi-monthly NAC conference calls and building relationships with allied groups both within the AIA as well as associated organizations to increase the visibility of Associate issues.

The RAD must be an AIA Associate member in good standing. The individual must be an Associate member at the commencement of his or her term; however, the RAD is encouraged to pursue licensure during that term. The only stipulation is that a RAD who obtains his or her license cannot seek reelection for another term as RAD.

The perks that come along with serving as the RAD include being fully funded to attend several national meetings during each of the two years of the RAD’s term:
  • The annual meeting of the National Associates Committee, held every fall in Washington, D.C.

  • The annual Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference, also held in Washington, D.C.

  • The annual American Institute of Architects Convention, to take place in Miami next year and in New Orleans in 2011.
The current and soon-to-be outgoing RAD is Yolanda Santiago Lettieri, AIA. Yolanda would be happy to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the position with AIA-SWO Associate member who might be interested in following her. She wants to pass the torch knowing that the next RAD will be well-prepared for this leadership opportunity. Contact Yolanda by e-mailing her at

The RAD position is an opportunity for an interested AIA-SWO Associate to assume a truly influential role within the AIA. The responsibilities that accompany the position are great because a primary role of the National Associates Committee is to help shape the future agenda of our profession from the perspective of those who will inherit it. Strong leadership and representation by our younger Associate members at the Region and National levels is essential.

If you are an AIA-SWO Associate member interested in the challenge and potential for personal growth that the RAD position offers, please contact me as soon as you can. Call me at (541) 342-8077 or reach me by e-mail at

Randy Nishimura, AIA
2009 President, AIA-Southwestern Oregon