Saturday, April 25, 2015

Be Inspired

Jenna Fribley, AIA, LEED AP
Guest Viewpoint by Jenna Fribley, AIA, LEED AP
The following is a reprint of an article written by Jenna Fribley from the Spring 2015 edition of the Oregon Architect newsletter. Jenna is the current president of AIA-Southwestern Oregon and owner of her own firm, envelōp design

With Jenna’s permission, I’m republishing her article here on SW Oregon Architect for the benefit of those who read my blog but do not receive Oregon Architect. I’ve always been impressed by Jenna’s energy and outlook, which shines through in her writing. Read what she has to say and you’ll see what I mean: 

Setting foot on campus to participate in student design reviews is always a treat. I savor the opportunity to get out from behind the computer and stroll leisurely to campus, to take a mental break from the demands and concerns of my projects, and to let my mind wander with a bit of nostalgia as I return to the all-too-familiar setting of Lawrence Hall. My top priority upon arrival is to head to the Hearth Café for a treat to fuel me through the mental-energy demands of reviews. Although the goal of reviews is to provide useful feedback to the students about their projects, I like to think of the activity as a fun exercise to keep the design side of my brain nimble, like a series of fast-paced, 15- to 30-minute charettes. 

My favorite reviews to do are mid-terms. Students are still early enough in the term and in the design process that your feedback actually helps them to reconsider and refine their projects. Typically they are at the point in the process where they have zoomed in and puzzle-pieced the program elements into the project, but often at the expense of their initial big ideas. I like to brainstorm with them about how to re-infuse the project with the conceptual inspiration and organizational ideas that they started with, while reassuring them that the design process is cyclical and this is to be expected. 

Often as we get into this dialogue, you can see the transition from “presentation mode” to an unscripted, passionate, lively discussion. What inspired them about the project when they first started brainstorming about it? What do they envision as the experiential sequence through space? What priorities are guiding their design? Daylighting? Sustainability? Relation to physical context? Cultural context? Structural or material innovation? And what attracted them  to architecture school in the first place? 

When I was in school, one of my studio instructors challenged us to think, as designers, “What do YOU bring to the project?” A draftsperson can draw plans, an engineer can stamp drawings, but as a designer you bring the “poetry” to the project. In my mind, the idea of “poetry” is a higher-level set of priorities and organizational concepts that, when overlaid with the program, give the project deeper meaning, clarity and/or purpose. 

It’s easy to lose the poetry of a project once you start fussing with square footages and ADA clearances and electrical receptacle placement. It’s important to keep orbiting the design process through cycles of conceptual review, to keep sight of the big ideas. However, this type of exercise is also remarkably applicable to life and career priorities beyond the project. 

Architecture isn’t a job you just fall into, and I hesitate to even describe it as a “career path” due to its (often) nonlinear trajectory. It’s more of a career “journey” that you have to put a lot of time, energy, passion, and dedication into. Just like the design process, you can keep tweaking and shifting and reworking your approach indefinitely. Without clear priorities it’s easy to second-guess yourself or get discouraged, especially when project deadlines and daily tasks push aside your long-term goals and dreams.

I often reflect on what brought me here and assess whether my current path is accomplishing or on the trajectory towards achieving my life goals and career vision. Some goals are personal (like teaching), while others might be better accomplished through collaboration with others (like entering a design competition). However, there are often even bigger, more altruistic visions—perhaps the ones that enticed you into the field of architecture—that are most impactful when shared with a larger group.

This is the main impetus for participation with AIA. I feel that, as a group of like-minded creative problem-solvers, we can accomplish great things—important, game-changing, make-the-world-a-better place types of things. So let's do this. Let's show the world the value of design in the built environment. Let's offer new ways of thinking about age-old problems like homelessness, disaster relieve, and resource management. Let's be an asset and available resource to our communities. Let's make a difference. Be inspired.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

National Architecture Week

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (photo by Matt Kozlowski, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
This past week, April 12-18, was National Architecture Week. Occurring each April, National Architecture Week is the American Institute of Architects' annual effort to increase public awareness on the role architects play as a force for positive change in our communities and to elevate the public’s appreciation of design. At the national level most of this effort is online, composed of pinboards on Pinterest, Twitter chats, and the Architecture is Awesome contest on Instagram. The intent is to showcase the work of architects and encourage architecture fans to share their thoughts. 
April also happens to be the birth month of Thomas Jefferson, the nation's only president/architect (and it’s my birth month too!). 
How did I observe National Architecture Week? Well, I dolefully prepared and filed my tax returns (paying hefty tax due sums to the IRS and the Oregon Department of Revenue). My wife and I buried our beloved cat, Gracie, who passed away following a lengthy illness. I managed to miss what I’m sure was a fascinating panel discussion about the legacy of Pietro Belluschi organized by the University of Oregon’s Department of Architecture and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Oh yeah, I also spent way too much time at the office, working toward a deadline of increasing urgency. 
Personally speaking, National Architecture Week was a bust. Nevertheless, here during its waning hours, I feel compelled to acknowledge its observance. As an architect, it’s meaningful to me. I sincerely believe the reasons for the annual celebration are praiseworthy. For 2015, the week’s focus was upon architecture as a source of reinvention, recognizing the architect’s profound ability to impact an industry through design, a community through a building’s purpose, and the beauty of architecture itself through restoration and historic preservation. 
More than a self-serving Hallmark holiday, National Architecture Week is an opportunity every year to remind ourselves and the communities we serve why architecture is important and why good design matters.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Young Professionals Day at CONSTRUCT 2015

Cherise Schacter—CSI Portland President, Institute Certification Prep Committee Chair, and queen of the CSI Kraken—recently announced some exciting news: this year’s CONSTRUCT will include CSI’s first ever Young Professionals Day. Cherise will be leading the entire day and evening of events for this special event.
The Construction Specifications Institute hosts its annual convention each year at the CONSTRUCT Show. The 2015 edition takes place this coming September 30 through October 3 in St. Louis. CONSTRUCT will be the place to be for everyone and anyone involved with construction information. Those who attend will meet face-to-face with fellow industry professionals in a world that is increasingly virtual. They’ll find ample opportunities to look their fellow construction professionals in the eye, shake hands, trade business cards, learn from each other, and advance their careers. 
The first day of CONSTRUCT, September 30, is earmarked as Young Professionals Day. It promises to be an awesome way for students and young professionals to get hands-on mentoring from seasoned professionals and exposure to the things they should know to move their careers forward. CSI created the event specifically for students and young professionals beginning their career journeys. It will be especially beneficial to those attending CONSTRUCT for the first time. A full day has been planned to provide a positive, unique experience. 
For the extremely discounted rate of $70 (CSI members) or $75 (nonmembers), students and young professionals can attend all of CONSTRUCT. This incredible price includes: 
  • Wednesday, September 30: All activities on the YP Day agenda, including the evening’s Welcome Reception and Young Professionals Mixer 
  • Thursday, October 1 through Saturday, October. 3: The full array of education sessions(1), keynote addresses, entrance into the exhibit hall, game changer session, young professional scavenger hunt, and admittance to CSI Night Out.
Benefits of the special Young Professionals package include:
  • The best value available 
  • Connections with peers 
  • Connections with others who possess a wealth of experience to impart 
  • Participation in a technical tour created for students/young professionals only 
  • A Pecha Kucha boxed-lunch event 
  • An exclusive young professional/student exhibit hall scavenger hunt on Thursday, October 1 with a top prize of $200 cash.
All education sessions, including free exhibit hall education, provide AIA/CES learning units (HSW when applicable.) GBCI CE is provided for select presentations. 
Note: There are other ticketed events available at additional cost. Please see the CONSTRUCT website for the complete list of events during the show. 
Where else can you receive an educational experience geared specifically towards your career needs, for up to 4 days, for as little as $70? If you’re a young professional looking to grow professionally, CSI has designed Young Professionals Day for you. You deserve to be in St. Louis on September 30! 
CSI will open registration for CONSTRUCT in Mid-May. Be sure to register by September 4 to take advantage of this great offer. 
How to enroll: 
  • Click the Register Now button 
  • Choose the Young Professional/Student Full Package
Sorry, youngsters only: Eligibility is limited to those no more than 35 years old (Drat, I’m not young enough! Being an old guy sucks!). 

(1) See education sessions offered on Open the Schedule at a Glance.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

John Reynolds Sustainability Symposium

John Reynolds, FAIA is well-known to readers of SW Oregon Architect as a pioneer in the teaching of sustainable design principles. He has taught design and environmental control systems at the University of Oregon since 1967, where today he holds the position of Professor Emeritus. Elected to the Eugene Water and Electric Board in 1972, his energy policy interests continue today as an Energy Trust of Oregon Board member. John’s many honors include ACSA Distinguished Professor, elevation to Fellowship in both the AIA and American Solar Energy Society, and the James Haecker Award for Distinguished Leadership in Architectural Research. He is co-author of the 6th through 11th editions of Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings (John Wiley & Sons) and Courtyards: Aesthetic, Social, and Thermal Delight
John is pleased to invite everyone interested in sustainable design to attend the inaugural John Reynolds Sustainability Symposium. This special event will bring internationally renowned practitioners, researchers, and thought-leaders to the University of Oregon this May for lectures, panel discussions, networking, and sharing. The symposium will attract, inform, and inspire professionals, faculty members, students, alumni, and friends as they interact with individuals on the leading edge of sustainable design, policy, teaching, and research. 
The full-day symposium—to take place on Sunday, May 17 at the Ford Alumni Center—will honor John’s decades of contributions to sustainable design and energy policy. Speakers will include Denis Hayes, Jason McLennan, Ed Mazria, Mick Pearce, Margie Harris, Jean Carroon, as well as John himself. I expect the program to be nothing less than an inspirational call to arms for those passionate about designing for resilience in the face of a rapidly changing climate. 
A Speakers’ Dinner will precede the symposium on Saturday evening, May 16. The dinner will feature talks by John and the other presenters, faculty members, event sponsors, and members of the University or Oregon leadership. 
Proceeds from the symposium will be directed to the John S. Reynolds Architecture Symposium Fund established at the University of Oregon Foundation. The fund will support future symposia that focus on issues, problems, advances, technologies, practices, and other topics that pertain to sustainability in architecture teaching, research, practice, policy, and community activity. 
The Department of Architecture and the School of Architecture and Allied Arts is producing the event with the generous support of sponsors and contributors including: 
  • Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB)
  • International Living Future Institute (ILFI)
  • The Van Evera and Janet M. Bailey Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation
  • Energy Trust of Oregon
  • Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
  • Opsis Architecture
  • Phyllis R. Naylor
Visit the John Reynolds Sustainability Symposium webpage for the full schedule of events and additional information

Intrigued? If so, attend the symposium and help make the day a special tribute to John and for the lasting benefit of the Department of Architecture. 

John Reynolds Sustainability Symposium 

Speakers’ Dinner: Saturday, May 16, 2015
Symposium: Sunday, May 17, 2015 

Speakers’ Dinner: Global Scholars Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene
Symposium: Ford Alumni Center, University of Oregon, Eugene 

Speakers’ Dinner: $100; Symposium: $150 (includes breakfast, luncheon, and reception)

Tickets can be purchased online or by phone order at 541-346-4363