Saturday, June 23, 2012

June AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

"Crawlers" crowding the reception area at Robertson/Sherwood/Architects (all photos by me)

AIA-Southwestern Oregon marked the summer solstice by offering a change of pace for its June chapter meeting. Rather than the usual fare of a sit-down dinner & educational program, this past Wednesday evening featured a thoroughly enjoyable “office crawl” through the offices of three downtown Eugene architectural practices. 

The three participating firms—Robertson/Sherwood/Architects, TBG Architects &Planners, and PIVOT Architecture—each hosted a planned activity intended to be both entertaining and educational. 

RSA "Jeopardy!"

The starting point for the office crawl was Robertson/Sherwood/Architects. RSA offered up “Jeopardy.” Modeled after the television game show of the same name, the contestants (that is, all of the office crawl attendees) formulated responses to facts about RSA projects in the form of a question. Unfortunately, Alex Trebek wasn’t on hand to assume his customary role as host of the show. Even so, everyone had a grand time and there was even a winner: Rex Prater, AIA was the recipient of the RSA raffle prize (a gift card for Belly Restaurant, which would be the office crawl’s final destination). 

Andika Murandi of TBG Architects & Planners during the office crawl visit at his office.

Next up was TBG Architects & Planners. Boasting an enviable record that stretches back sixty-three years, TBG’s contribution to the office crawl was a contest entitled “Know Your Competitor’s History.” The challenge was to correctly answer a series of questions associated with the firm’s storied past. Some of the questions were intriguing to say the least. For example, do you know which of the following companies was incubated as a tenant in TBG’s current office space? 

  1. Oregon Research Institute
  2. Slocum Center for Orthopedics
  3. Nike Athletics
  4. Pape Caterpillar
  5. Dynamix
I don’t know the answer to this question; was it Nike? Trish Thomas, AIA, on the other hand, correctly answered more questions than all of her fellow “crawlers” and, courtesy of TBG, was the winner of a gift certificate to J. Michaels Books

Toby Barwood, AIA (right center) served as MC for PIVOT Architecture's stop on the office crawl.

A stop at PIVOT Architecture’s beautiful new office rounded out the crawl. PIVOT principal Toby Barwood, AIA served as master of ceremonies for his firm’s take on the board game genre. In this instance, the objective was to navigate the gantlet of challenges which typically confront an architectural project, from the initiation of design to securing the building permit. Toby divided the group into two teams: the “Vermillion” and the “Pepperoncini.” The teams advanced by spinning a dial, sometimes securing an advantage by adding staff to move the project toward obtaining a permit more expeditiously. Ultimately, the “Pepperoncini” established their supremacy and prevailed as the winner of the engaging contest. 

The evening’s final destination was the newly located Belly Restaurant, which also was a sponsor for the June AIA-SWO meeting. Belly is known for its “rustic, European farmhouse soul food” and is justly popular among Eugene’s gustatorial cognoscenti. 

In sum, the well-attended office crawl offered participants the opportunity to tour various firms’ workspaces and learn a bit more about the projects each firm has designed or is currently involved with. It’s always a treat to catch a glimpse of what our peers are up to and the inner workings of their offices. I predict that the crawl will become a fixture on the AIA-SWO calendar in years to come.

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