Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015 AIA-SWO Craftsmanship Awards

2015 AIA-SWO Craftsmanship Awards Banquet, November 18, 2015 (all event photos by Steven Leuck)
The Lee Barlow Giustina Ballroom at the University of Oregon’s Ford Alumni Center was packed this past Wednesday as the Southwestern Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored the nominees for and recipients of this year’s AIA-SWO Craftsmanship Awards. The event was my profession’s opportunity to honor fine craftsmanship and recognize those considered by the jury to be deserving of special recognition. It was a wonderful evening that celebrated the best of the best. 
The overarching purpose of the awards program is to ensure the time-honored ideals of craftsmanship are sustained and passed along. Its success is dependent upon nominations of those individuals that local architects believe exemplify the highest standards of craftsmanship. 
The Southwestern Oregon chapter of the American Institute of Architects considers anyone in the building trades—tradesmen and women, fine cabinet makers, job site superintendents, and all the others—worthy of this recognition if they have consistently taken that extra step to ensure a finely crafted building. The success of the most excellent architecture would not be possible without the dedication and skill of these individuals. 
AIA-SWO invited its members, associates, and affiliates to nominate individuals who have demonstrated outstanding skills in the execution of their work. The jury—comprised of AIA-SWO chapter members, past award winners, and other members of the construction industry—received and reviewed 16 nominations. 
The following is the complete list of nominees for the 2015 Craftsmanship Awards:

  • Noah Barth – electrician with Contractors Electric
  • George Bleekman – owner’s representative for University of Oregon Capital Construction
  • Mark Bruer – project manager, Essex General Construction
  • Bryce Gardner millworker/cabinet maker, Advance Cabinets
  • Mike Gerot landscape contractor, Woodruff’s Nursery
  • Robert Havas self-employed finish carpenter
  • Larry Kovarik carpenter, Essex General Construction
  • Mark McGee sheet metal worker, Phoenix Mechanical
  • Tim McMahen – project manager, Essex General Construction
  • Patrick Morgan – millworker/cabinet maker, The Cabinet Factory
  • Robin Olofson – millworker/cabinet maker, Yankee Built, LLC
  • Nick Pappas – construction superintendent, Chambers Construction
  • Dave Quivey – construction superintendent, Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty Company
  • Kean Rager – construction superintendent, Fortis Construction
  • Rick Robertson – residential construction, Six Degrees Construction
  • Dave Veldhuizen– residential construction, Six Degrees Construction

The list reflects a broad spectrum of skill sets and experience. All of the nominees should regard their recognition as a testament to the skills they’ve contributed toward the realization of successful projects. The pride exhibited in their work shines through. They all should feel proud and honored, and all are deserving of our congratulations. Regardless, the awards jury did choose to distinguish five of the nominees as the recipients of this year’s awards: Noah Barth, George Bleekman, Robert Havas, Mark McGee, and Patrick Morgan. By means of their craft, they and past honorees encourage others to similarly excel and take the extra steps necessary to ensure finely crafted buildings. 
The 2015 Craftsmanship Awards nominees
AIA-SWO 2015 president Jenna Fribley, AIA, congratulates Noah Barth of Contractors Electric for receiving his award. Craftsmanship Awards committee chair Bill Seider, FAIA (left in photo) looks on. AIA-SWO president-elect Stan Honn, AIA (right) served as the evening's emcee.
This year’s Craftsmanship Awards program was graced with a keynote presentation delivered by Esther Hagenlocher, Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts. Also a member of this year’s Craftsmanship Awards jury, Esther proved to be an inspired choice as the keynote speaker. Her background, upbringing, education, and professional career trace the classic path of one destined to excel in craft. She was born and raised near Stuttgart in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany, an area synonymous with craftsmanship (Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Bosch, and Hafele share roots there), trade guilds, and Lutheran ideals that equated methodical work with religious duty. Her father, a cabinet-maker, instilled in Esther the pride to be found in making things with one’s own hands. She learned the value of working in different scales and with different media, and the years of practice necessary to achieve mastery of one’s craft. She would go on to become a certified cabinet maker like her father. She would also become an architect and an educator. 
Esther Hagenlocher
Esther teaches interior architecture, architecture, and furniture design classes at the University of Oregon. Clearly a source of satisfaction for her is seeing the joy and pride her students display in the process of designing and building furniture pieces in her class. Her students regularly exercise craftsmanship in the conception and execution of their projects. There’s little doubt they learn true craft is a consequence of the quality of the intellect and effort they apply to their projects. Esther’s influence is evident in the professional work of her past students, who include among their number current AIA-SWO chapter president Jenna Fribley, AIA. 
Esther struck all the right chords in her presentation. Her personal history is a testament to the persistence of craftsmanship in today’s world. Her teaching provides optimism we may witness its resurgence in the future. 
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AIA-SWO conferred its first Craftsmanship Awards in 1953. Today, sixty-two years later, recognizing the virtues of craftsmanship remains as important as ever, if not more so. If all goes to plan, we can look forward to another AIA-SWO Craftsmanship Awards program in 2017. It’s not too early to think about the craftsmen and women we work with on our projects who deserve to be nominated. Consider all the people you have worked with recently who have helped make your designs a reality. Does someone especially stand out? Was his or her contribution to your project worthy of recognition? 
As I previously noted, craftsmanship is an ideal to which to aspire, a means to assert an essential humanity in the making of things regardless of the tools at hand. It’s important for us to forever celebrate the pride and the dignity to be found by people producing useful, beautiful objects, buildings, and places. 
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The 2015 Craftsmanship Awards program was a great success due to the efforts of the organizing committee (chaired by Bill Seider, FAIA), the jury, and the generous support of the program’s sponsors—Willamette Graystone, Ideate, and the University of Oregon. Congratulations to everyone involved especially the award recipients and nominees!

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