Sunday, October 31, 2010

Design|Spring’s November Meeting

An inviting entrance in the landscape by Stangeland and Associates, Inc.

Design|Spring invites local emerging architecture, engineering, landscape and design professionals to attend its November meeting.

The meeting, to take place on Wednesday, November 10, 2010, will feature a presentation entitled "The Process of Landscape Design—What landscape architects wish architects knew." Arica Duhrkoop-Galas, Landscape Architect with Stangeland & Associates, Inc. and Jackie Robertson, Principal with Lovinger Robertson Landscape Architects, are the speakers.

This presentation will provide emerging professionals in related fields with an inside view of landscape architecture. Arica and Jackie will explain the landscape architectural process, discuss what design professionals can do to make a job run smoother, and give pointers for things to keep in mind for future projects. Topics will include site work (spaces and soils), timeline (planning and planting), and infrastructure (landscape systems).

Please RSVP to Mariko Blessing at so that Design|Spring can confirm the number of attendees.

Here are the meeting details:

Sandwiches and drinks: 5:45pm (sandwiches and drinks are available for purchase at the bar)

Presentation begins: 6:00pm

Location: Cowfish Nightclub*Gallery*Coffee Shop, 62 W Broadway, Eugene OR 97401

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Winners of the 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Design Awards

Shattuck Hall Renovation - A 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Design Award winner (photo by Charles Ingram Photography)

This is the second of several posts I will write about the recently completed 2010 American Institute of Architects Northwest & Pacific Region Conference – An Emerald Vision – held in Eugene, October 13-16.The conference was hosted by AIA-Southwestern Oregon.

I happened to notice when I checked my Site Meter tracking gadget that many recent visitors arrived at SW Oregon Architect after searching for “2010 Region Conference Award Winners.” Accordingly, this post features the press release prepared by the AIA Northwest & Pacific Region listing the results of the Region Design Awards program.

I’d like to credit the photographers for each of the images contained in this blog post. Unfortunately, in some instances I didn't have ready access to their names. I will add all the credits once I locate them.

Here’s the press release:

Quality Designs Make for Tough Competition

The AIA Northwest & Pacific Region annually holds the Region Design Awards (RDA) competition for projects, designed by AIA architects from Hong Kong to Montana, which have previously won an award. The 2010 awards were held in Eugene, OR, the evening of October 16.

This year there were over 70 entrants in the competition but only a handful received awards.

While this has always been a "best of the best" competition; 2010 is distinctive due to the level of excellence demonstrated in design submittals. The high quality of design made decisions difficult for the jury.

The 2010 jury only handed out eight awards. Four Honor Awards and four Citation awards were given; no Merit Awards were handed out. Pervasive elements in the winning designs were innovation and skilled utilization of elements that could have inhibited design.

The 2010 Honor Award Winners are:

Portland State University - Shattuck Hall Renovation
“ Conceptually strong... individual pieces ingeniously crafted with spirit and life. ”
(Charles Ingram Photography)

Bainbridge High School
“Strengthens and reinforces the campus at large as well as the community.”

Vancouver Convention Center West
“A difficult building type on a remarkable site that maintains strong physical and visual ties with Vancouver Harbor ”

Portland Mall Revitalization
“A subtle, masterful handling of all the elements while addressing several modes of transportation with texture and craft.”

2010 Citation Award Winners are:

Vanke Shenzhen Head Office
“A sophisticated insertion of circulation and volume to unify three existing floors and modernize an office building ”

Olympia Mills Commerce Center
“A skillful repurposing of a grain storage facility into a variety of flexible spaces.”
(photo by Stephen A. Miller)

“A market driven solution on a tight budget that still manages to reinterpret an urban form in a completely new way. ”
(photo by Stephen A. Miller) 

Earth House
“ A magical creation”
(photo by Wooseop Hwang)

The awards event itself was well attended with over 200 attendees. Jurors easily held the audience attention with their comments and both participants and attendees were fortunate to have an exceptional combination of jurors. The three jury members were: Julie Eizenberg, Founding Principal of Koning Eizenberg Architecture; David Lake, FAIA; Lake|Flato Architects; and Donlyn Lyndon, FAIA, Eva Li Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, Emeritus UC Berkeley.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Walk Score

Click image to enlarge.

This is the first of several posts I will write about the recently completed 2010 American Institute of Architects Northwest & Pacific Region Conference – An Emerald Vision – held in Eugene, October 13-16.The conference was hosted by AIA-Southwestern Oregon. As a member of the conference steering committee, I was awed by the efforts of my committee colleagues and the contributions they made to the unequivocal success of the event.

Do you know your Walk Score? Prior to the start of the 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference I was unaware of my mine. I know I wasn’t alone among the 260-plus conference attendees in this regard.

Walk Score and More” was the name of the first session on the last day of the Region Conference. It was intended to be one of the “Tables” events, a panel discussion involving several of our speakers.(1) Unfortunately, only Alan Durning, Executive Director of the Sightline Institute was available to participate.(2) He is an outstanding and highly entertaining speaker, so the fact that the “panel” was minus two thirds of its roster did not detract from an interactive discussion with the audience. Alan was ably accompanied by AIA-SWO’s own executive director Don Kahle, himself no slouch when it comes to being a provocateur or engaging an audience.

The website allows anyone in America to measure the walkability of his or her neighborhood, using Google maps and other sources to determine how easily a resident or office worker might be able to dash over to get a sandwich or a book without driving their car.

Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100:
  • 90–100 is a Walker's Paradise — Daily errands do not require a car.
  • 70–89 is considered Very Walkable — Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
  • 50–69 is Somewhat Walkable — Some amenities are within walking distance.
  • 25–49 is Car-Dependent — A few amenities are within walking distance.
  • 0–24 is Totally Car-Dependent — Almost all errands require a car.
The idea behind the site and the company, Walk Score, which was launched in July 2007, is to promote walkable neighbourhoods as "one of the simplest and most effective solutions to halt climate change, improve our health and strengthen our communities." Walk Score’s vision is for every property listing to read: "Beds: 3 Baths: 2 Walk Score: 84." The company wants walkability and transportation costs to be a key part of choosing where to live.

Economists and realtors are just now learning how to use new tools like this to shape behavior or to measure the likelihood that behaviors will change. For example, it’s becoming clear that properties with a high Walk Score retain their value better than those with a low score.

The creators of Walk Score (3) were directly inspired by Alan Durning, particularly by the blog he wrote during his year of living “car-lessly.”

My conference name badge with my Walk Score.

One of the more inspired moves made by the conference steering committee was to provide everyone in attendance with his or her Walk Score. It did this by placing the number on each person’s name badge. The intention was to get people talking – and it worked. Attendees compared their respective Walk Scores, even before they completely understood what they meant. The numbers “broke the ice” between those who did not know one another, serving as a point of immediate commonality for those otherwise with little in common aside from a shared love for architecture.(4)

My home’s Walk Score is 65, classified as “Somewhat Walkable.” My office, located downtown, boasts a Walk Score of 98, placing it in the midst of a “Walker’s Paradise.” A surprising number of conference attendees could likewise boast high Walk Scores. This was no doubt because many listed their office addresses when they registered for the conference. Architects – being urban life-loving creatures – tend to locate their practices in the vibrant, interesting, and walkable neighborhoods.

Conversely, the Walk Score of many of our fellow Americans is an indication of how car-dependent our society has become. As architects – as leaders in the shaping of our built environment – we must encourage our clients whenever we can to appreciate the suprising benefits of walkable communities to our health, our finances, and our communities. This means offering guidance in the selection of sites and acting as advocates for compact growth.

One of the unintended benefits of Walk Score may be to serve as an adjunct to the LEED rating system by providing a means to further validate a project’s sustainability. I’ve seen too many LEED-certified projects hailed for their “green” design that are only accessible by automobile. How sustainable is that? By factoring into the equation a project’s proximity to the core of a walkable community, we may come closer to certification of true sustainability.

In his earlier address on Friday evening in the Soreng Theater at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Alan Durning challenged our gathering to not rest until the rest of the world conforms to the principles of sustainability we espouse. He asserted that we’re on the cusp of an era of a new materialism – a simpler, less expensive, yet richer and greener future.

Alan enlisted all of us in his crusade for the development of compact, pedestrian-friendly communities. He has deputized us. It’s time to walk the walk.

(1) We fashioned the conference schedule to almost always have a distinguished speaker giving a lecture, an intriguing panel hosting a roundtable discussion, or a respected colleague leading a tour. “Talks, Tables, and Tours” became a useful mnemonic for understanding the organization of our conference.

(2) Joe Cortright, president and principal economist for Impresa, and Shelley Poticha, senior advisor for sustainable housing and communities to the Obama administration, were intended to be the other two panelists. They, along with Alan Durning, are members of Walk Score’s board of advisors.

(3) Walk Score is a division of Front Seat, a civic software company.

(4) Conference attendees reflected the vastness and incredible diversity of the Northwest & Pacific Region, which encompasses Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Guam, and Micronesia.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about an issue of global importance on the same day (Friday, October 15). It is an opportunity to witness the power of participatory journalism marshaled toward a common cause. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a worldwide discussion. I participated in last year’s event for which the issue was Climate Change. Prior Blog Action Day themes were the Environment in 2007 and Poverty in 2008.

This year's issue is Water. The increasing scarcity of fresh, potable water is soon to achieve Biblical proportions. Many scientists project that half of the world’s population may lack access to safe, potable water by 2025. It’s conceivable that hydro-politics, rather than disputes over oil or religion, will become a primary spark for conflicts between nations.

Planet Earth’s well is running dry:
  • Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.
  • More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.
  • Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.
  • It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.
  • The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.
The adverse effects of worldwide water shortages are too often off the radar screen for most of us here in water-rich Oregon.

So what can Oregon architects and designers do to help address this global dilemma?

We can be more aware of the “water footprint” of our projects. Architect magazine blogger Blaine Brownell recently pointed out that the production of many building materials and products utilizes large amounts of water. To date, material-related water use has not been scrutinized at the level that embodied energy and carbon footprint have. He argues that water footprint will be an increasingly important factor in determining the overall environmental cost of the materials we select for buildings.

I fully expect the U.S. Green Building Council to increase the proportion of water efficiency points required to achieve LEED certification as the urgency grows to reduce demands upon the global freshwater supply. It’s my understanding that the USGBC is presently considering modifications to the LEED rating system to better address the embodied energy of materials, their carbon footprint, and life-cycle impacts. I would not be surprised to see the USGBC explicitly factor the water footprint of common construction materials into the LEED equation.

We can also strongly advocate for the continuation and strengthening of Oregon’s compact urban growth policies. Pressures exist to expand the urban growth boundary of many communities (including Eugene and Springfield). However, the greater value of protecting rural and natural areas from sprawl and inefficient use of land, public facilities, and services cannot be overestimated. An unwelcome consequence of sprawl is a proportionately larger demand for potable water than would be the case with compact development, all other factors being equal (i.e. population).

Certainly, we can maximize water efficiency by limiting or eliminating landscape irrigation, specifying appropriate fixtures and appliances (for example dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, high-efficiency dishwashers), and harvesting rain for non-potable uses (irrigation, flushing of toilets). Many of these water-conserving strategies are already mandated by applicable codes or are necessary to secure desired LEED credits.

I’m struck by the irony of a steady rain drumming on the roof of my house as I write this blog post. It’s too easy for those of us living in Oregon (and particularly here on the soggier side of the Cascade Range) to forget that fresh water is a life-or-death issue in many parts of the world. We cannot do this. Water is a global issue, and it affects all of us. Repeat the old saw, “Think Globally, Act Locally.” Consider the health of the entire planet and take action to use water wisely with every project you design.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

In the News

AIA-Southwestern Oregon executive director Don Kahle prepared a press release to publicize the upcoming 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference, October 13-16 in Eugene. That’s right – the conference is only a few days away!

We’re expecting 250 registrants, exceeding our initial projections. An Emerald Vision is shaping up to be a remarkable event. I’m proud to be associated with the conference steering committee, a tireless and enterprising group that has done an amazing job. If you haven’t already made your plans to join us, it’s not too late yet. Register today at

Come back to SW Oregon Architect after the 2010 Region Conference. I’ll write a post or two about the conference for those of you who unfortunately won't be with us in Eugene next week.

Here’s Don's press release:


A 3-Day Conference with Keynote Speakers & Keynote Listeners

Do you know your “walkscore”? It’s a number assigned to your address that measures how easy it is to walk for a cup of coffee, a loaf of bread, a rented video, or whatever else you may need in a day.

On October 14, hundreds of architects from across the Northwest will gather in Eugene to compare their walkscores. They won’t have a choice — their score will be published on their conference name badge. That’s just one of many conversations the organizers hope to provoke among the registrants coming to Eugene from across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.

Dozens of speakers and topics were chosen for their expertise in genius loci, the power of design, or their visions for the future of the built environment. The focus on the future is helped by their plans to spend most of Saturday, Oct. 16 on campus at the University of Oregon, where the architecture department was recently named one of the best programs in the country for sustainable architecture.

As a place known for education, the conference offers a careful balance of activities to accommodate a variety of learning styles. In addition to lectures, there will be roundtable discussions, as well as a variety of tours of notable nearby architecture. The shorthand to describe these alternatives is “Talks, Tours, and Tables.”

Roundtable and panel discussions each will feature an appointed First Questioner, designed after the successful format pioneered by the City Club of Eugene. But this conference will take that concept even one step further. In addition to five Keynote Speakers (Alan Durning, Shelley Poticha, David Lake, Julie Eizenburg, and Donlyn Lyndon), the conference has appointed four Keynote Listeners (John Reynolds, Jonathan Stafford, Thom Mayne, and Ed Feiner.)

Two of those Listeners (Mayne and Feiner) worked together on the Wayne L. Morse Federal Courthouse in Eugene, dedicated in 2006. Federal Judge Michael Hogan has invited both back to Eugene for this event. Feiner also has been a key adviser to Oregon Excellence, a state-wide program to nurture and reward architectural excellence, modeled after GSA’s successful program.

The public is invited to attend several events on Friday, October 15.

Shelley Poticha will join Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and Corvallis City Councilor Dan Brown for a special collaboration with the City Club of Eugene and the Corvallis City Club. Their topic will be “Place-Making and Parochialism: A Conundrum for Mid-Sized Communities.” But this place-making conversation will take place in a special place. Attendees will be served lunch on the stage of the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall. (11:50 a.m., $20 for lunch. Gallery seating is available for $5, or free for City Club members.)

Friday evening at 5:30, Alan Durning, executive director of the Sightline Institute in Seattle, will be giving a free lecture in the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater entitled “Living on the Edge: How the Northwest is Making the New Normal.” Durning has written several books, including How Much Is Enough? , This Place on Earth, and several others. He was the keynote speaker in 2003 at daVinci Days in Corvallis.

Several other public events are planned for that Friday, which is being touted as “One Well-Designed Day”:

11:50 a.m. “Place-Making & Parochialism: A Conundrum for Mid-Sized Communities” - City Club of Eugene, together with the Corvallis City Club. Lunch will be served on the stage of the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall. Lunch $20, gallery seating $5 (free for City Club members)

2:00 p.m. “Giussepe Vasi’s Rome: Lasting Impressions of the Grand Tour” - Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon campus.

3:00 p.m. “Ellis Lawrence’s Campus Plan, the Oregon Experiment, and the Architectural Heritage of the University of Oregon (Plus Its Future)” - A walking tour of the UO campus with an eye for its planning and its plans. Meet at west entrance of Deady Hall, just south of the Robinson Theater. FREE

4:00 p.m. “Eugene City: A Visual Retrospective” - Do you wonder whether Eugene has changed? Compare archival photographs with current ones to see a shifting streetscape, with Rowell Brokaw Architects. Opus VII, 22 W. 7th Ave. FREE

5:30 p.m. “Living on the Edge: How the Northwest is Making the New Normal” - Alan Durning from Sightline Institute in Seattle tracks the progress of seven northwest cities (including Eugene) for environmentalism and community-building. Hult Center’s Soreng Theater. FREE

7:30 p.m. “A Bright Future: Inn at 5th Street” - Q&A with the project’s majority owner & his chief architect, Brian Obie & John Lawless. 5th Street Public Market food court. Dinner is available, but the session is FREE

9:00 p.m. “10Square, presented by Design|Spring” - Ten rapid-fire visual presentations by ten young design professionals. Cozmic Pizza, 199 W. 8th Ave. Pizza and beer available, but admission is FREE

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reuse It

BRING's Planet Improvement Center, designed by TBG Architects & Planners (photo from BRING's website)

Julie Daniel, Director of BRING Recyling, sent me an email letting me know that she regularly reads my blog. While I primarily write for my own benefit, it’s great that my blog does have its followers.

Many of you already know that BRING Recycling is the oldest and largest supplier of used building materials in Lane County (BRING has been in operation for over 40 years). TBG Architects & Planners designed BRING’s popular and fun Planet Improvement Center, located at 4446 Franklin Boulevard in Glenwood (between Eugene and Springfield). If you haven’t already shopped at the Planet Improvement Center, you owe yourself a visit. The Center is a showcase for the imaginative reuse of used building materials and sustainable design strategies.

In addition to recycling and selling reusable construction products, BRING educates the community about the environmental and economic benefits of keeping unwanted but valuable items out of the waste stream. Julie brought to my attention BRING’s new, high quality video entitled “Reuse It.” The entertaining, 12-minute production uses original music, animation, and dynamic footage to tell the story of Oregon’s reuse industry and how it’s possible for all of us to help the environment by living well without waste.(1)

“Reuse It” is chock full of fascinating and eye-opening factoids, including the following:
  • Surprisingly, Oregonians now generate more trash than was the case in the 1990s, despite our reputation for strong support of recycling programs
  • Only about 1% of new construction materials end up being reclaimed and used again
  • Oregonians generated nearly 3 million tons of garbage in 2008; of this amount, 20-30% is building materials
  • The production of consumer goods, including construction materials, is the source for the majority of our pollution problems and greenhouse gas emissions
Too many reusable items still end up in landfills, and the volume of new goods being produced continues to increase. This is an unsustainable trajectory. We can no longer afford to waste reusable resources. We must embrace the mantra of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” We can contribute to a sustainable future by reusing building materials instead of throwing them away. Wasting materials also means wasting money.

The production of “Reuse It” was funded by a grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Additional support came from the City of Eugene and BRING. Talented local filmmaker Jerry Joffe produced and directed the video.

View “Reuse It” online at or request a free DVD copy.

BRING’s goal is to spread the reuse gospel far and wide. If you’re like me, you’ll find “Reuse It” enjoyable, relevant, and important.

(1) The October 3, 2010 edition of The Register-Guard contains a column by Sarah Grimm of Lane County Waste Management that also promotes the new video.