Sunday, December 2, 2012

November AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

AIA-SWO Octagon Charrette - 11-28-12 (panoramic photo by Will Dixon, AIA)

A good time was had by all at November’s AIA-Southwestern Oregon chapter meeting. The festive setting (courtesy of The Actors Cabaret production of Christmas: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year) provided a seasonably apt backdrop for a members-only design charrette devoted to identifying ways to physically improve the Octagon, AIA-SWO’s new office, conference, and display space in downtown Eugene. 

Divided into five different teams, the charrette participants thought outside the box (or, in this case, the octagon) to come up with a variety of ideas, some practical and others more fanciful. Highlights included vibrant ceiling treatments, multi-layered lighting ideas, interlocking flexible furnishings, and eye-catching site signage. 

Ultimately, the goal is to create a showcase for architecture AIA-SWO members will be proud of. Much like recently formed centers for architecture in Portland, New York, Philadelphia, and other cities, AIA-SWO and Architects Building Community (ABC) envision the Octagon as a destination for anyone interested in learning about the built environment and how it impacts their health and quality of life. 

With its tall glass walls, the Octagon has already proven to be a wonderful means to exhibit the work of architects and carry out ABC’s mission "to support public education, community outreach, and well-informed public involvement in planning design excellence for our communities and public spaces." ABC recently replaced the display of the 2012 People’s Choice Award winners with the 100 Years of Design Excellence exhibit produced by AIA Oregon. Future displays will attempt to bring citizens in touch with their physical environment by helping them understand the importance of design excellence, beautiful public spaces, good civic architecture, and sustainable, family-friendly neighborhoods. 

Nir Pearlson, AIA describes his team's concepts for the Octagon (my photo)

The Octagon’s chief limitation is its tiny size and the modest resources of its two resident organizations. The charrette may prove useful by inspiring a suite of cost-effective improvements that help realize AIA-SWO’s and ABC’s shared vision of a nexus for discussions about architecture in southwestern Oregon. 

The chapter is assembling an Octagon Committee, which will convene in 2013 to review the full range of ideas proposed during the charrette, identify those worthy of further development and implement them. If you’re interested in being a member of this committee, be sure to sign up when the call comes for you to identify which AIA-SWO volunteering opportunity appeals to you most.

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