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 www.livestream.com/aia_awards (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 Change.org, 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 mariko@a-form.com 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

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lecture by David Lake, FAIA

Dallas Arboretum by Lake/Flato Architects - photo from firm website

One of our 2009 Design Awards jurors, David Lake, FAIA, will present the work of his firm, Lake/Flato Architects, at the University of Oregon on Friday, October 9, at 5:30 PM in 177 Lawrence Hall. 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.

Lake is a principal with Lake/Flato Architects of San Antonio, Texas. The firm believes that architecture should respond to its particular place, enhance a site or neighborhood, and be a natural partner with the environment. Its designs evolve from an appreciation for the pragmatic solutions of vernacular architecture, the honesty of modernism, and the context of rich and varied landscape. In 2005 Lake/Flato Architects was awarded the National - AIA Firm of the Year Award.

In 2009 alone Lake/Flato Architects received the following awards:
  • National AIA Committee on Architecture for Education
  • National AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Projects
  • National American Institute of Steel Construction Design Award
  • National Congress for New Urbanism Award of Excellence
  • National McGraw-Hill Construction Best of the Best: Green Building
  • National Valley Forward Association Environmental Excellence Crescordia Award

. . . among numerous other state and local awards.

David Lake's commitment to sustainability and environmental issues has always been central to his design approach. By employing sustainable strategies, he has designed architecture that conserves energy and natural resources, while creating high performance buildings and healthy built environments.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oregon Day of Culture

October is National Arts & Humanities Month and October 8th marks the anniversary of Oregon's unique cultural tax credit. The Cultural Trust created the Oregon Day of Culture to celebrate all that culture brings us every day, in every community. You are invited to come and celebrate The Day of Culture and meet your local arts organizations at a special reception at the Midtown Arts Center on Thursday, October 8 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm.

This event is FREE and open to the public. The Midtown Arts Center is located at 1590 Willamette Street, Eugene, OR 97401.
  • Join in a toast to the arts as Mayor Kitty Piercy proclaims October 8 Eugene's Day of Culture
  • Experience the synergy of the Midtown Arts Center
  • Meet and greet your local professional arts organizations
  • Watch a dance class
  • Visit the hall gallery of architectural design (featuring the 2009 People's Choice winners)
  • Refreshments and door prizes!
Participating arts organizations include: Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene Concert Choir, Eugene Opera, Hult Center, Lane Arts Council, Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Mozart Players, American Institute of Architects, Eugene Ballet Academy, Oregon Festival Choirs.

Architects in Schools 2009-2010

Architects in Schools (AiS) is a unique program providing elementary schools the opportunity to work with practicing professional architects and designers in curriculum-based activities. The program is funded by Architecture Foundation of Oregon (AFO), which coordinates the formation of exciting partnerships between design professionals and area schools. Architects, intern architects, landscape architects, and interior designers are all welcome to participate.

Thousands of students have participated in AiS over the years. It is just as vital and relevant today as it was when Marjorie Wintermute and Jody Proppe first initiated the program nearly 25 years ago.

Architects in Schools is open to grades 3 through 5 and is offered to schools at no charge. The design professional’s commitment to the program usually totals approximately 20 hours between January and April as follows:
  • 12 hours in the classroom (approximately two hours per week over a six-week period that works with the architect’s schedule)
  • 8 hours of orientation, including pre-planning time with teachers, and
  • Up to 2 additional hours of “floating time”

There is no charge for participation for design professionals or schools. Architects may receive Continuing Education credits and interns may receive IDP credits for completion of the entire program. Everyone receives a copy of the comprehensive curriculum, Architecture as a Basic Curriculum Builder.

Click the link below to download the 2009-2010 Architects in Schools Application for Architects:


Application submissions to participate in the 2009-2010 school year must be received or postmarked no later than Friday, October 30, 2009. For more information, contact Kim Ruthardt Knowles at (503) 317-7537 or by e-mail at kim_ais@msn.com. Applicants will be notified of participation status in early December 2009.

It’s been a while since I participated in the Architects in Schools program (I taught third graders at Coburg Elementary School), but it stands today as one of my most rewarding volunteer experiences. Consider sharing your passion and professional skills with the community through the AiS program. If you do, you'll see what I mean.