Sunday, June 28, 2009

Design/Plan Review Sack Lunches

The City of Eugene’s Building and Permit Services Department has offered a monthly series of Design/Plan Review Sack Lunch presentations for some time now. The presentations are open to anyone who might be interested, though they’re geared toward construction and design professionals.

Here is the lineup for the next three months:

July 15, 2009
Stuart Ramsing, City of Eugene Building Official, is scheduled for the July sack lunch. Stuart will discuss changes in Building Permit Services at the City of Eugene and how the City is responding to the current economy.

August 19, 2009
Jenna Garman, City of Eugene Green Building Analyst, is scheduled to speak at the August sack lunch. Jenna will provide us an update of what has been happening in the area of Green Building and City of Eugene, Planning and Development Department.

September 16, 2009
Either Richard Rogers from State Building Codes Division or City of Eugene staff will discuss the use of the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) as it has been adopted by the State. The IEBC can be a useful tool to further the usability of existing buildings and address fire and life safety.

All meetings are scheduled for noon at the Permit & Information Center, located at the corner of 10th & Olive in downtown Eugene.

Questions? Contact Steve McGuire, City of Eugene Plan Review Supervisor, at (541) 682-6800.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Football, Fashion, and Architecture

Sharp dressed men or Project Runway refugees? You decide.

Here’s a post that is a real stretch for me to claim is related to architecture, even if only tangentially. On the other hand, it is about design, so that makes it almost all right.

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool (feathers?) fan of the University of Oregon Ducks football team – a season ticket holder and card-carrying member of the Oregon Club of Eugene-Springfield. My blood runs “thunder green” and “lightning yellow.” My wife would tell you that I hum “Mighty Oregon” in my sleep, but I’m not sure I believe her. Anyway, you get the picture.

Like many other Duck fans, I eagerly awaited the latest iteration of sartorial splendor that Nike unveiled this past Tuesday. Oregon Football has become notorious for changing up the look of the players’ uniforms every three years or so.(1) When it comes to the team’s uniforms, the only thing that passes as “tradition” is the absolute abandonment of a traditional look or style. It’s all about change and what young recruits think is cutting-edge and cool.

4 different helmets x 5 different jerseys x 4 different pants = how many unique combinations?

My take on the new look? I’m okay with it, but I always hope for something really crazy from the designers at Nike.(2) In my opinion, the more controversial and outrageous the togs, the better it is for Oregon. Like them or not (and the kids do like them), people are talking about the latest Ducks styling. And that’s the whole point.

Oregon has inherent disadvantages when it comes to competing for the hearts and minds of the most promising high school prospects. Eugene is not a recruiting hotbed. The University of Oregon is not situated in a populous metropolitan area with the associated attractions and distractions. Our weather (rightly or wrongly) is often maligned as wet and dreary. The bottom line is that recruiting does not happen on a level playing field when it’s USC, or Arizona State, or Stanford that the Ducks are up against. Anything that Oregon’s program can do to be on the national radar screen can only help. When it comes to football fashion, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

The new "chrome" helmet

During my regular perusal of the various Duck blogs online, I came across Brian Libby’s comment in response to a post about the new uniforms on the Addicted to Quack blog. Brian is a Portland-based freelance journalist, author, and filmmaker. He’s an avid fan of Duck football, having authored a couple of books on the topic, one of which – The University of Oregon Football Vault – has a place in my library at home. Brian is also a prolific blogger about architecture in the Rose City. His blog – Portland Architecture – is the first place I go online when I want to see what's shaking with P-Town architecture and urban design. He detests the new uniforms (tell us how you really feel Brian) but it was his reference to Michael Graves' Portland Building in his comment on the Addicted to Quack piece that I found amusing. Here’s the URL for the post on Addicted to Quack, followed by the full transcript of Brian’s comment:

LOVE the Ducks, hate the unis

It doesn’t matter if it’s politically correct or incorrect to like or dislike the Ducks uniforms. I absolutely detest them, but I don’t think that makes me less of an Oregon fan. I’m not saying the Ducks have to be as plain-Jane traditional as Penn State or Alabama. But the fake/faux imagery like gladiatorial wings and diamond plating is absolutely ridiculous. Football players don’t need fakery.

My other big beef besides the faux imagery is the addition of first black and now silver to the green/yellow color scheme. What are we, the Oakland Raiders?

Nike has done some really great stuff over the years for Oregon’s uniforms. The “O” logo is masterful, and so are the green helmets overall. The ability to interchange different pants/jerseys is also terrific. But Nike too often — every three years to be exact — seems to want to tinker merely for the sake of tinkering. They did a great job with the original 1999 redesign that was worn during the Joey Harrington era. Maybe the green shading was a tad too dark, but the simple stripe on the sides of the pants and jerseys was elegant and classic.

Oregon’s brand identity, or whatever you want to call it, is based on the notion of change and innovation. That’s fine as a strategy in and of itself. But why fix something that isn’t broken? The green and yellow color scheme didn’t need two more hues to be added. And the two most recent uniform sets (the new ones and the ones worn the last 3 years) don’t need to rely on faux diamond plating or feathers/gladiator wings.

Nobody likes the Portland building in downtown Portland because it’s a silly caricature with fake ribbons on the side of the structure. The Oregon uniforms are the Portland Building of college uniforms: a disingenuous embarrassment.

And I say that being a life-long, ceaselessly loyal Ducks fanatic. Go Ducks! I just wish we looked more like the Harrington or Musgrave teams.”

The Portland Building, Michael Graves, Architect

I simply enjoyed seeing Brian insert an architectural analogy into a line of reasoning about the design merits of uniforms for college football players. Architecture and the Oregon Ducks! A kindred spirit!(3)

Where Brian’s analogy to the Portland Building falls short is that the building is plainly just bad architecture. Some might think that the Ducks look silly when they take to the gridiron, but few fans of college football today would argue that they’re a bad team. The Portland Building is notorious for its functional and urbanistic shortcomings as much as for its poorly scaled, shallow aesthetic. Looking back now, thirty years on, it’s hard to believe that many professionals and academics were so beguiled by Michael Graves’ abstracted, cartoon classicism.

Hmmm . . . Is it possible that Nike’s Beaverton brain trust was nevertheless inspired by Graves’ signature project so close by in downtown Portland? Does that explain the “fake/faux imagery of gladiatorial wings?” Perhaps the outcome would have been dramatically different if Nike had instead looked to its house architects, TVA, for inspiration.(4)

Robert Thompson, FAIA, of TVA Architects with images of the Park Avenue West Tower and Matthew Knight Arena projects.

Brian asserts that the uniforms are a “disingenuous embarrassment.” I don’t see the disingenuous part. There’s nothing deceitful about them. For better or worse, they’re an honest reflection of what the Oregon program has become. An embarrassment? That’s definitely open to debate.

The Portland Building was the victim of shortsighted cost-cutting and cheap materials. By contrast, Oregon Athletics can hardly be accused of doing things on the cheap. Therein, of course, lies an entirely different subject for debate.

There is a public perception that big-time college athletics, football in particular, has skewed the priorities of the University of Oregon. Is it right that Head Coach Chip Kelly is the highest paid public employee in the State of Oregon and that his annual base salary is many times greater than that of long-tenured professors? Maybe not. On the other hand, many Duck football followers will argue that recent success on the field has translated to increased financial support from wealthy donors to academic programs and facilities. They will also point out that the Athletics Department does not rely upon the University’s general fund to cover expenses.

I do have a concern that the architecture of some of the new facilities for Duck Athletics communicates exactly the wrong message. In particular, the mute glass cube of the Academic Learning Center for Athletes, to be surrounded by a water-filled moat, is shockingly aloof and indifferent to the campus of which it is supposedly a part. What were Phil Knight, the Department of Athletics, and the architects thinking? This is a subject for another day.(5)

There are few experiences that surpass the exhilaration of a crisp Saturday afternoon in Autzen Stadium when the home team is on a roll and the crowd is deliriously raucous. College football fans look forward to the promise of every new season and the chance to cheer on their alma mater to victory. We Duck fans also enjoy the extra pleasure of regularly debating the finer points of Oregon Football fashion and design. What do you think of the new uniforms?

(1) The frequency of the design changes is intended to deliver on a promise made by the coaches to incoming players. Players are told that at some time during their career at Oregon they will be asked for their input on the design of a new generation of uniforms.

(2) Sans the wings, these new uniforms are actually quite plain. On the other hand, the new “chrome” helmet is a buzz-worthy surprise.

(3) Brian also expressed his disdain for the new uniforms in a guest column for The Oregonian.

(4) TVA Architects designed Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton. TVA also helped design the improvements to Hayward Field and is part of the design team (with Ellerbe Becket) for the new Matthew Knight Arena, now under construction.

(5) Still under construction, I hope to render a more objective opinion of the building’s design after it is complete.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

The title of the June AIA-SWO chapter meeting was “Looking Back/Looking Ahead: A Mid-Year Report.” The chapter meeting presented the AIA-SWO community with the opportunity to both look back upon our accomplishments for the first half of 2009 and look forward to what lies ahead for the remainder of the year. The intent of the meeting was twofold: 1) To make sure that we acknowledged the participation, energy, and enthusiasm of those individuals who have contributed to the success of chapter activities; and 2) to build upon this success by engaging everyone in a discussion about how we can improve what we do as a chapter.

We offered the June meeting free of charge to everyone who attended. This was a modest “dividend” back to the AIA-SWO community; thirty-two members took advantage and enjoyed our chapter’s largesse. Jim Roberts and his crew at The Actors Cabaret rose to the occasion and prepared a great meal.

AIA-SWO President-Elect Michael Fifield and I served as facilitators for the chapter meeting program. I began by recounting how our chapter board resolved during our transition meeting last December to pursue the goals of AIA National’s Strategic Plan. We did so believing that we would bring clarity to the ideals, values, and principles that underscore the mission of the American Institute of Architects. The four goals of the Strategic Plan are:

1. Increasing membership value

2. Being the Authoritative Source

3. Optimizing Organizational Performance

4. Serving as the Credible Voice

We decided that our chapter’s efforts during 2009 (and beyond) should be measured by the degree to which we would fulfill one or more of these goals. From our mid-year vantage point, I can say confidently that we have been quite successful in this regard. During my presentation, I listed our accomplishments for the first six months of 2009 (the numbers in parentheses correspond to the goal or goals that most directly apply in each instance):

  • Improving the quality of our monthly meeting programs (1, 2)
  • Producing the Climate Change & Architectural Responses educational seminar (1, 2)
  • Forming the Emerging Professionals Group (1)
  • Organizing the regular Intern Tours of projects under construction (1)
  • Producing the University of Oregon Reverse Crit in partnership with the AIAS (1, by strengthening ties with the university)
  • The Whilamut Passage Design Charrette (1, 4)
  • Planning for upcoming charrettes: Visions for Dixon Creek, EWEB Riverfront, Walnut Station (1, 4)
  • Providing financial support for the Visions for Dixon Creek charrette and a booth at da Vinci Days in Corvallis
  • Increasing our ties with related organizations, such as CSI, ASLA, The Lane Arts Council, NAWIC (1, 3, 4)
  • Reinvigorating the Past Presidents Committee (4)
  • Establishing the Congress of Residential Architecture committee (1, 2, 4)
  • Planning for the 20th Annual Peoples’ Choice Awards, and the first Juried Design Awards program since 2005 (1, 4)
  • Planning for the Register-Guard Insert (1, 3, 4)
  • Nominating two candidates (Otto Poticha and Jim Robertson) for Institute Fellowship (4)
  • Advocacy: Supporting policies that empower architects to design buildings and communities that enhance everyone’s quality of life (1, 4)
  • Planning for the 2010 Northwest & Pacific Region Conference (1, 2, 4)
  • Providing one student each academic quarter with the opportunity to receive credit for practicum experience with AIA-SWO (1 and 3, by providing administrative support for chapter activities)

Undoubtedly one of our greatest successes has been our effort to increase non-dues revenue. The various sources include monthly meeting sponsorships, AIA-SWO website sponsorships, design charrette stipends, and the Register-Guard insert. We’ve already doubled our chapter income through May 2009 from all sources when compared to the same period last year! As our executive director Don Kahle pointed out, this increase in revenue is “building capacity” for the chapter, which will allow us to continue and even grow our programs to everyone’s benefit.

These achievements have only been possible because of the efforts of our board members, committee chairs, and other volunteers. I’m grateful to each for the willingness with which they share their enthusiasm, energy, and time. I’m especially appreciative of the work that Don Kahle has done on behalf of the chapter. His creativity and prodding have spurred us to do some very good things that will benefit all AIA-SWO members.

Michael led the second portion of the program. He assigned one of eight questions to each group of members seated at a table (conveniently, there were eight tables, each occupied by four members). Michael, Don and I had earlier formulated the questions, which were focused upon furthering the pursuit of the four goals of AIA National’s Strategic Plan. After only allowing a brief period to consider the assigned questions, Michael called upon a representative from each table to provide his or her group’s response.

Here are the eight questions and the assigned tables’ responses to each of them:

Question #1: What are some critical issues for Eugene and Oregon that our chapter can address in a proactive way?

  • Consider endorsing council candidates
  • Provide input to city officials
  • Become champions for sustainability
  • Promote the notion that good design is good for the economy
  • Address issues related to infill; advocate for smart growth
  • Continue charrettes; a positive influence
  • Push for affordable housing
  • Advocate land banking

Question #2: What would excite you about being an AIA-SWO member?

  • The learning opportunities
  • Community involvement
  • Fellowship at meetings
  • Learning about what other firms are working on
  • Reduced rates for emerging professionals
  • Limiting ARE materials exchange to chapter meetings! (thereby encouraging interns to attend our meetings)

Question #3: What metrics might we use to measure AIA-SWO’s success in delivering value to the membership?

  • The number of meeting attendees
  • The number of hits the AIA-SWO website receives
  • Recognition in the media
  • Increasing requests from the City, etc. for AIA-SWO input
  • An increased discussion of issues
  • Taking more positions on issues

Question #4: How can we increase engagement with the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts to the mutual benefit of both the AIA-SWO membership and students?

  • Continue and expand the Reverse Crit program. Integrate the Reverse Crit schedule with the school schedule
  • Reach out and engage designBridge
  • Liaison with the Emerging Professionals Group
  • Provide open houses in local firms’ offices for students to visit
  • Have local firms mentor studios
  • Invite students to site visits
  • Provide a list of AIA-SWO members available as reviewers
  • Identify how students can become more involved with AIA-SWO
  • Support the AAA practicum program

Question #5: How do we best mentor our emerging professionals (EP)?

  • Be more open and inclusive to welcome EP to meetings
  • Treat licensure of EP as a celebration
  • Introduce yourself to EP at chapter meetings
  • Provide a design award category for EP
  • Encourage employers to offer diverse assignments
  • Include EP in all office activities
  • Nurture them
  • Think of the profession as a whole. We’re growing new blood
  • Provide a context to understand the sections of the ARE
  • Support EP education, membership in AIA

Question #6: What is the highest and best use of the AIA-SWO monthly chapter meetings?

  • Hosting prominent visiting lecturers at both the University and at AIA-SWO meetings
  • Providing more design-oriented presentations (i.e. design case studies)

Question #7: What type of continuing education courses (for CEUs) would be attractive to AIA and associate members?

  • Sustainability
  • Broad picture re: specifications
  • More intensive education re: construction products/materials (i.e. an evening devoted to storefront design or the building skin)
  • More code-based discussions (i.e. addressing particularly challenging code scenarios)

Question #8: What are some of the ways we might “aim high” as we plan the 2010 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Conference?

  • Get big name speakers
  • Engage the community
  • Provide a satisfying technological experience (the cutting edge)
  • Include a tour of local wineries
  • Exploit the university (they’ve been “green” since the ‘60s)
  • What’s good for design is good for the economy
  • Recruit the majority of the chapter membership to assist with the Conference

The concluding discussion elicited some other thoughts worthy of recording:

  • Talk and take a leadership role in the community
  • Be idealists
  • Work more closely with our associated disciplines on matters of mutual interest and importance
  • Provide critical feedback for Otto Poticha’s and Jim Robertson’s Fellowship Nomination applications before they are submitted
  • Produce Continuing Education seminars about architecture for the general community (orchestrated through UO Continuing Education Services)
  • Increase the public profile of AIA-SWO
  • Provide a new member orientation program (maybe a couple times a year)

Everyone appreciated the opportunity to provide input toward improving how we do things as a chapter. We will no doubt act upon many of the suggestions that resulted from this fruitful discussion and provide all AIA-SWO members with even greater value and increased benefits.

If you could not attend the June chapter meeting but have some ideas of your own, please share them with us. Tell us how we’re doing. Tell us what we can do better. Leave a comment on this blog, or speak to one of the AIA-SWO board members. We’d love to hear from you.

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Thanks to Balzhiser & Hubbard Engineers for sponsoring our June AIA-SWO chapter meeting. BHE principals Monica Anderson and Mark Penrod were on hand to tell us what the venerable Eugene firm is up to these days. Their staff of more than 50 employees boasts a broad range of expertise, enabling the firm to take on complex projects with multiple engineering and design challenges. With its state-of-the-art automated design systems and software, BHE is able to devote the necessary resources to complete any assignment quickly and efficiently.

Balzhiser & Hubbard Engineers is also a dedicated supporter of the American Cancer Society. BHE actively participates in the Annual Relay for Life, and donates proceeds to the Society from a yearly auction and, new for 2009, from the Bill Prentiss Memorial Golf Tournament. Bill was a good friend of mine and fellow Canadian who I dearly miss, so I’m looking forward to enjoying a round of golf in his name. It’s not too late to sign up for tournament, which takes place this September. Contact Dan Peterson of BHE at (541) 686-8478 if you’re interested.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Self-Sufficient City

Hydro-Net City of the Future - IwamotoScott Architecture

The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IaaC) and Hewlett-Packard are pleased to announce the 3rd Advanced Architecture Contest, on the theme of The Self-Sufficient City: Envisioning the Habitat of the Future.

The aim of the competition is to generate visions, ideas, and proposals that imagine what a self-sufficient city of the 21st century might be like. The contest is open to architects, planners, designers, and artists interested in confronting the challenges posed to urban settlement by environmental degradation, rapidly evolving information technologies, and globalization.

The competition jury will be composed of architects, directors of some of the world's foremost architecture schools, and mayors of prominent cities around the globe. They will seek the most outstanding and imaginative proposals for a self-sufficient city of the future, at any scale, and within any timescale.

The winning entries will receive cash prizes, as well as a one-year grant to support studies in the Master in Advanced Architecture program at IaaC. All of the projects selected will be featured in a special book to be published by ACTAR. Based in Barcelona, ACTAR is a leading international publisher of innovative books about architecture, graphic design, and contemporary art.

This is the third Advanced Architecture Contest to be organized by IaaC since 2005. The first competition, on the theme of Self-Sufficient Housing, attracted entries from more than 2,500 architects and students from 108 countries, clearly demonstrating the potential of the Internet as a medium for researching new architecture. The special book of the short-listed projects was selected by the RIBA Bookshop as one of the best new titles of 2006. The second competition was devoted to The Self-Fab House. The winners of these two previous Advanced Architecture Contests—from France, China, and Spain—have completed the IaaC Master course and are currently working on a variety of research projects. See past editions of the Advanced Architecture Contest here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Seminar Report

Our June 5, 2009 Climate Change and Architectural Responses seminar (a co-production of AIA-SWO and the Northwest Eco-Building Guild) was a great success. Forty-eight architects, interns, engineers, and designers sat spellbound as Alder Fuller, PhD(1), founder of Euglena Academy, and John Reynolds, FAIA(2), University of Oregon professor of architecture emeritus, presented the evidence that abrupt and rapid global heating is imminent, and how such climate change will impact the design of 21st century buildings.

Dr. Fuller set the table by arguing that conventional science, as represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has failed to recognize the interdependence of countless complex systems and the deleterious impacts of positive feedback loops. The IPCC view of climate change originates from a reductionist perspective and presumes that the rise in global temperatures is linear (Type I climate change). The reality is more likely that temperatures are rising chaotically and in a non-linear fashion (Type II climate change). If we are to believe the Type II model, we may have already crossed a critical threshold, a tipping point past which the earth's temperatures will continue to rise regardless of anything we humans do in an attempt to stop it.

Alder Fuller

Dr. Fuller identified the specific climate changes that will challenge the design of buildings in the Pacific Northwest. Within the next few decades, we can expect to see hotter, wetter weather, with less snow, more rain, extended drought, and extreme storm events. There will be disruptions to water availability and distribution, severe impacts upon commercial agriculture, and social instability as a consequence of large scale human migration. The bottom line is that our world is going to be very different by 2050, even more so by 2100.

According to Professor Reynolds, the implications for architects are clear. We must plug the leaks and tighten our belts. We must increasingly focus upon reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings. We must design our buildings so that they increasingly rely upon daylighting, natural ventilation, passive solar heating and cooling, and rainwater collection (the Cascadia Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge and the Oregon Sustainability Center are models for future development).

John Reynolds, FAIA

The need for building adaptability in the face of accelerating climate change is paramount. Professor Reynolds favors “switch rich” design strategies wherein a building’s “physiology” may be readily tailored to the environment, even as the environment changes over time. This is a “go with the flow” type of response, as opposed to merely hunkering down. People too, will need to be more willing to adapt to the changing reality. Is a heating setpoint of 65 degrees really too low for comfort? What about a cooling setpoint of 78 degrees? We will all soon come to realize that we can no longer afford the luxury of living within artificial bubbles at odds with the environment.

* * * * * * * *

Our Climate Change and Architectural Responses seminar may be history, but that does not mean that there are not resources available locally to help expand your understanding of the coming global crisis. Dr. Fuller’s Euglena Academy offers a broad range of courses on the topics of climate change, systems sciences, geophysiology, and complexity theory. These ideas are not merely of intellectual and academic interest, but are important for communities to understand if we are to create a culture capable of adapting to the rapidly changing conditions on Earth. These changes have only just begun and will accelerate in coming years to a point that humans can hardly imagine now. For more information about Euglena’s curriculum, check out the Academy’s website at

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Big thanks to the seminar organizing committee for its superlative job producing the event. The members of the committee included:
  • Lana Sadler, AIA, chair
  • Roger Ota, Assoc. AIA
  • Bill Klaverkamp (Northwest Eco-Building Guild)
  • Rudy Berg, Assoc. AIA (Northwest Eco-Building Guild)
  • Alder Fuller (Euglena Academy)
  • John Reynolds, FAIA
Great job!

(1) Alder Fuller has studied and taught biology and mathematics at the college-level for 40 years. Born in Memphis, TN, his university degrees include a PhD in ecology & biological evolution (UNM, 1990), MS in probability theory & mathematical statistics, MS in biological systematics, and BS in biology. He taught college biology and mathematics as a full-time instructor at a community college (TVI) in Albuquerque, NM and at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. In 2001, he established an independent college-level school, Euglena Academy, in Eugene, OR, where he has developed a scientifically rigorous curriculum about systems sciences, nonlinear dynamics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, biology and climate change. Euglena is the only institution in our region offering an integrated curriculum in these disciplines. Alder’s program has focused increasingly on global heating and climate change, which promise to be the defining issues of the 21st century, and can only be fully understood within the context of systems sciences. He has offered public lectures about climate change to over 1500, including political leaders, and is recognized as an expert on "Type II" (rapid and abrupt) climate change.

(2) John Reynolds has been interested for over 40 years in how people use energy in buildings, and how buildings shape that energy usage. He has taught both architecture design and environmental control systems at the University of Oregon since 1967. He is co-author of "Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings," 6th through 10th editions, published by John Wiley & Sons. John received the American Solar Energy Society’s Passive Pioneer Award in 1997, and was elected a Fellow in 2000. He now serves a Chair of the ASES Board. John was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2003. He was also recognized as a Distinguished Professor by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in 1998. He currently serves as President of the Board of the non-profit Energy Trust of Oregon, based in Portland. John received a teaching Fulbright Grant to Argentina in 1988, and a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in 1995-96 resulted in his book "Courtyards: Aesthetic, Social, and Thermal Delight" © 2002, John Wiley and Sons.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

AIA/SWO Intern Tour: Eagle Rock Retreat

The AIA-Southwestern Oregon Chapter regularly organizes tours of projects under construction for the benefit of intern architects. The intent is to allow interns (who may not otherwise regularly visit construction sites) to see firsthand a project in progress. This month, the AIA-SWO intern tour features 2fORM Architecture's Eagle Rock Retreat. Here are the details:

What: Eagle Rock Retreat

When: Thursday, June 18th at 4:30 PM

Where: Near Eagle Rock Lodge in Vida. Meet at 2fORM to carpool.


Please meet at 2fORM Architecture at 4:30 to carpool to the site. 2fORM's office is located at 121 Lawrence Street in Eugene.

Project Description:
The Eagle Rock Retreat is a vacation home located along the north bank of the McKenzie River with a breathtaking view of Eagle Rock. The new design features three "pods" with living spaces and a fourth building for the garage. The three pods are oriented toward the south in order to capture the view to the river and Eagle Rock and to maximize daylight exposure on the heavily-wooded site. The living spaces open onto large exterior decks that are perfect for relaxation and also serve as the primary means of circulation from one pod to the next.

Eagle Rock Retreat was designed with many sustainable features. A cistern harvests rainwater that is used to flush toilets. All the spaces have radiant floor heat, and there is no HVAC cooling system. The old house on the property was in poor condition and needed to be removed. However, the roof beams from that structure are re-used in the new home.

Please RSVP by noon Monday, June 15 to Mariko Blessing at or 342-5777.

Monday, June 1, 2009

President’s Message – June 2009

Summer is quickly approaching. Warm, sunny weather has returned to the Willamette Valley. Flowers are in bloom. Backyard barbeques are a weekend staple again. People are out and about, taking care of chores, enjoying the outdoors, and chatting with neighbors. Summer is the time when our sense of community is most strongly felt.

The AIA-SWO is a community, one whose vitality and influence is rising as a result of the concerted efforts of our chapter board officers and dedicated volunteers. The board decided last December to move forward on a number of initiatives that would emphasize providing tangible benefits to our membership. Our plan was to furnish these benefits as effectively and efficiently as possible. Since the beginning of the year, we have unequivocally increased member value, optimized organizational performance, and served as the credible voice on matters of the built environment. The following are just a few examples of our chapter’s 2009 activities and initiatives to date:

Increasing Member Value
  • Formation of an Emerging Professionals Group

  • Production of the Climate Change and Architectural Responses educational seminar

  • Programming of monthly chapter meeting topics with a greater emphasis upon HSW/SD continuing education content

  • Offering of CE credits for participation in AIA-SWO design charrettes

  • Expansion of ties with the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts, including renewal of the Reverse Crit program

  • Organization of the first juried Design Awards program since 2005 (to be co-produced with AIA-Southern Oregon; entries due/judging to occur in October)

  • Establishment of a new chapter committee, the Congress of Residential Architecture, Oregon Chapter (CORA)

Optimizing Organizational Performance

Serving as the Credible Voice

  • Resurrection of the Past Presidents Committee, which convenes monthly to discuss local affairs of importance to our community’s livability and future development

  • Production of four separate design charrettes with the intent of demonstrating AIA-SWO leadership on environmental design issues:
    1) The Whilamut Passage/I-5 Bridge charrette (completed)
    2) The Visions for Dixon Creek charrette (planned for later this month)
    3) The EWEB Riverfront Master Plan Public charrette (taking place this summer)
    4) The Walnut Station (Franklin Boulevard) charrette (planned for November)

  • Evaluation of proposed changes to height regulations for R-3 and R-4 zoned properties in the South University Neighborhood

  • Contribution of articles to the Register-Guard’s opinion page

  • Pursuit of further opportunities with the Register-Guard, including the possibility of a regular column devoted to architecture

All of the above builds upon the well-established programs our chapter offers, including the popular series of tours for interns of projects under construction, the Peoples’ Choice Awards, the Register-Guard insert, the Craftsmanship Awards, our educational scholarship program, and advocacy on behalf of the AIA-SWO membership for legislation that is consistent with the goals of the profession. In addition, our chapter is making great progress toward hosting the 2010 Northwest & Pacific Region Conference – a huge undertaking.

Our June 17, 2009 chapter meeting presents the AIA-SWO community with the opportunity to both look back upon our accomplishments of the first half of 2009 and look forward to what lies ahead for the remainder of the year. The intent of the meeting is thus twofold: 1) To make sure that we acknowledge the participation, energy, and enthusiasm of those individuals who have contributed to the success of chapter activities; and 2) to build upon this success by engaging everyone in a discussion about how we can further increase the value of membership in AIA-SWO.

Speaking of increased value, we are offering the June meeting free of charge to the first seventy members and associate members who reserve a seat. Think of it as a dividend from your investment in the AIA-SWO community, an investment that will continue to grow with your help. Join us at our June meeting as we honor our community volunteers and stand on their shoulders to look forward to the remainder of 2009 and beyond.

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June Program Sponsor
Our June program sponsor is Balzhiser & Hubbard Engineers. Familiar to many AIA-SWO members, the venerable Eugene firm has provided innovative and cost-effective engineering solutions for clients since 1954.

Balzhiser & Hubbard Engineers’ staff of more than 50 employees boasts a broad range of expertise, enabling the firm to take on complex projects with multiple engineering and design challenges. With its state-of-the-art automated design systems and software, BHE is able to devote the necessary resources to complete any assignment quickly and efficiently.

Randy Nishimura, AIA
2009 President, AIA-Southwestern Oregon