Sunday, September 23, 2012

September AIA-SWO Monthly Chapter Meeting Recap

The Colleague’s Choice Awards have been an adjunct to the People’s Choice program for several years now; however, for 2012, AIA-Southwestern Oregon changed things up a bit. Rather than showcase the People’s Choice winners(1) as has been the tradition, the September chapter meeting featured presentations by the architects responsible for the three projects receiving the most Colleague’s Choice votes. 

The primary beneficiaries of the focus of upon the Colleague’s Choice Award winners were those of us who attended the chapter meeting. We learned about the process, inspiration, and challenges confronted by the design teams. We discussed Architecture with a capital “A,” in that unique language architects are trained to master. It’s too seldom that we get such an opportunity to truly gather as colleagues and be rewarded by insights into our peers’ best work. 

Here are this year's AIA-SWO Colleague's Choice Award winners:

Pacific NW Publishing - 2fORM Architecture (photo by Richard Shugar, AIA, LEED-AP)

2fORM Architecture - Pacific NW Publishing
Turning a downtown eyesore into a modern and distinctive building, 2fORM stripped the two-story, 18,000 s.f. building down to its structure. The renovation added new M/E/P systems, creatively addressed the functional needs, and added a needed dose of color and creative vitality to an important downtown site. 

LCC Building 10 Adaptive Reuse - Rowell Brokaw Architects (photo by Eleni Tsivitzi)

Rowell Brokaw Architects with Opsis Architecture - LCC Building 10 Adaptive Reuse
This remodeling of the former 28,000 s.f. hangar for the Aviation program creates a new home for the Lane Community College Art School and RTEC (Regional Technical Education Consortium, which provides career/technical courses no longer available at high schools). 

The tight budget required limited, but strategic design decisions. Elements such as the steel stairs, railings, and ramps supply the finer-grained, human-scaled detail to the renovation. The character is explicitly industrial and in a few places expresses a whimsy and toughness found in the best buildings devoted to teaching visual arts and creative technology programs. 

PIVOT Architecture Offices (photo by Jeff Amram Photography)

PIVOT ArchitecturePIVOT Architecture Offices
PIVOT’s generative parti for its sparkling new office space was the contrast between the Broadway Commerce Center’s old shell and a sculptural new insertion at the core of the 8,500 s.f. plan. The design’s signature stroke is a core element housing enclosed meeting rooms, copy rooms, and the office’s entry lobby. PIVOT employed CNC milling to emboss a greatly enlarged and rasterized image of a 1982 pen and ink hand sketch by Eric Gunderson onto the core area’s cladding. 

The three winners shared several traits in common.(2) Most notably, all are adaptive reuses of tired, older buildings that had outlasted their original programs and yet had many years of useful life remaining in them. There is a direct correlation between reuse of existing buildings and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, degradation of the natural environment, and overuse of precious natural resources. In this regard, these three projects are truly sustainable. 

Each of the winning projects also honored the essence of the original architecture. These were buildings that clearly possessed architectural virtues worthy of preservation and extension in the service of the new designs. 

PIVOT principal Toby Barwood, AIA stated how difficult it is to make something look simple and conversely how easy it is to make a design unnecessarily complicated. The genius of the three Colleague’s Choice Award winners is that they appear so effortless in execution. We all know the truth is that it takes consummate skill to pull off this winning effect. It’s clear to me that our chapter can boast design talent on par with the best found anywhere in the country. 

Congratulations to Rowell Brokaw Architects, PIVOT Architecture, and 2fORM Architecture. I look forward to the continued raising of the bar, with the expectation being no less than all of us striving to push the envelope by producing our best work with each successive project. 

(1) The chapter announced the winners of the People’s Choice Awards at the September 7 City Club of Eugene meeting.
(2) The Colleague’s Choice Awards committee did not identify first, second, or third place awards. All three projects receive equivalent recognition and are only distinguished from the other entrants by having received more of their colleagues’ votes.

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