Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What are your favorite buildings in Oregon?

The American Institute of Architects-Oregon is celebrating its 100th year in 2011. As part of its anniversary celebrations, the organization is asking everyone to nominate their favorite buildings in Oregon. Your vote will contribute to the selection of 100 projects to be featured in an exhibition about the past century of Oregon architecture.

Click on the following link to participate. You may submit any architect-designed building or public space in Oregon, including structures that are no longer with us.

Hurry! You must vote online by July 8, 2011.

I’ll post information about the exhibition as soon as it’s available.

Here’s the list of my ten favorites:

Mount Angel Abbey Library (photo source: University of Oregon Libraries)

In my opinion, this is the quintessential Aalto building despite its location atop a hill in rural Oregon on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery. I haven’t visited any of Aalto’s libraries in Finland but I can’t imagine any of them surpassing the Library at Mount Angel Abbey.

The Gordon House (photo by Andrew Parodi)

2. Gordon House (Silverton) – architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Completed after Wright’s death, the Gordon House nevertheless successfully betrays his hand in all of its details. It is a favorite of mine because it is a late representative of Wright’s Usonian houses, the compact homes he envisioned for a new American lifestyle.

Timberline Lodge (Image via Wikipedia)

3. Timberline Lodge (Mount Hood) – architects: W. I. Turner, Howard Griffin, Dean Wright, Linn A. Forrest, and Ward Ganno
A product of the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, Timberline Lodge stands seven decades later as a monument to the workers who built it. The large framing timbers, locally quarried stone, and intricate carvings provide a singular experience for visitors to the Lodge and Mount Hood.

Gerlinger Hall (photo source: University of Oregon Libraries)

4. Gerlinger Hall (Eugene) – architect: Ellis F. Lawrence
Of the many buildings Ellis Lawrence designed in an assortment of eclectic styles for the University of Oregon, expressive Gerlinger Hall is a standout, my favorite building on the campus of my alma mater.

Equitable Building (image via Wikipedia)

5. Equitable Building (Portland) – architect: Pietro Belluschi
The Equitable Building wasn’t just the first modernist office tower in Oregon—it was also one of the first to be built anywhere (pre-dating SOM’s Lever House in New York). Belluschi’s achievement was remarkable, demonstrating a fully-formed mastery of the modern glass and metal vocabulary.

Christ the Teacher Chapel (photo source: University of Portland)

6. Christ the Teacher Chapel, University of Portland – architect: Pietro Belluschi
Another Belluschi masterwork, this one a late-career gem. In the architect’s own words, the small chapel is a building of “eloquent simplicity,” a trait I find particularly appealing.

Aubrey Watzek House (photo source: University of Oregon Libraries)

7. Watzek House (Portland) – architect: John Yeon
Selected by Portland Monthly magazine as “Portland’s Greatest Home,” the Aubrey Watzek house is a seminal example of Pacific Northwest modernism. John Yeon was only 26 years old and at the start of his career in architecture when he precociously designed the Watzek House. He lavished enormous effort (drafting 600 pages of details) to realize his refined, crisp design.

Pioneer Courthouse Square (image via Wikipedia)

8. Pioneer Courthouse Square (Portland) – architects: Will Martin, et al
The result of a widely publicized international design competition, Pioneer Courthouse Square has become Portland’s living room. It is perhaps only the most noteworthy of downtown Portland’s many fine public spaces.

bSIDE6 (photo by Stephen A. Miller)

9. bSIDE6 (Portland) – architect: Works Partnership Architecture
bSIDE6 is an audacious design. The daring of the 7-story office/retail building is balanced by the unmistakable control and skill displayed by its designers, Carrie Schilling and William Neburka.

Wayne L. Morse Federal Courthouse (photo source: University of Oregon Libraries)

I previously described Thom Mayne’s work as impenetrable, cryptic, and inscrutable. The Wayne L. Morse Federal Courthouse is uncharacteristically fluid, majestic, and legible—a shimmering, sculptural paean to the judiciary. It grows on me more and more each day.

Like the roster of individuals who have influenced my development as an architect, this list may at first strike you as an odd assortment. It does reflect my tendency to appreciate good work regardless of its particular aesthetic or philosophical underpinning. Diversity is good. The common thread is what I regard as design quality and the architects’ mastery of their craft as evidenced in the projects I have selected.

What are your favorite buildings in Oregon?

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Joe K said...

Thanks so much for including the Chapel of Christ the Teacher on the Univesrity of Portland campus. It's a joy to be able to walk past Belluschi's beautiful building every day!

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Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you used my picture of the Frank Lloyd Wright house in this blog! Such an honor! Andrew Olivo Parodi

Randy Nishimura, AIA said...

Andrew: I'm glad that you're okay with me having used your photo. I want to give credit to all the photographers whose shots I use. In some instances, I simply don't know who took the photograph. In other cases, I'm not sure if the photographer would object to the photo's use even if I list credit for the image. I'm not too savvy about how I am supposed to acquire permission or ascribe credit and too often in a hurry, so I simply take a chance and hope that it will be okay. Thanks for your photo of the Gordon House.