Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Briefed 8.5

Portland developer John Russell is one of the "worker bees" on presidential finger-crosser Sen. Hillary Clinton's Oregon steering committee, the O reports.

Salem's getting its fourth Walgreens, and neighboring business owners are looking at the development as a shot in the arm rather than out-of-town interlopers coming along to push pills, the Statesman Journal reports.

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters thinks his city should get over its love of Portland's transit-oriented, controlled growth strategies, because what doesn't work is making "policy on ideology and blind faith that changing law changes human nature." Thanks, Walters.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This old open house

Oregon National Register spots that take advantage of tax freezes have to be open to the public -- the actual dirt-tracking, medicine-cabinet-spying, antique-loving public -- one day per year. And the state Parks & Rec department thoughtfully compiles a monthly calendar of open house events.

Up this weekend is the Sidney Ruddy House (1725 SE 16th Ave.) in Ladd's Addition, which is open Monday. Scheduled for September are the Herman Brookman-designed Alan and Barbara Goldsmith House, Kohn House, and the Whidden & Lewis-designed Wilcox House, as well as a handful of historic apartment buildings, among them Barcelona and Estelle Court.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Briefed 8.29

Thomas Hacker Architects is in negotiations to design a new library for Bellingham, Wash., the Bellingham Herald reports.

Callison is designing Vancouver Mall's transformation into a "lifestyle center," the Columbian reports. Because malls are places where teenagers buy Cinnabons, and lifestyle centers are places where yuppies buy vases and boots and food processors and barstools. Ah, marketing.

Cool story about deconstruction -- and Portland gets props -- in the L.A. Times.

The GBD Architects-designed Vancouver Columbian newspaper headquarters is tracking LEED gold, and Columbian publisher Scott Campbell cares about people AND the environment, the...Columbian...reports.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Briefed 8.27

Does designing a building for an anti-gay church make the architecture firm anti-gay? Discussion about Sienna Architecture's design work -- which appears as a backdrop in a Mercury photo -- for New Hope Church, which is working to overturn recently passed gay rights laws, is going on over at Metroblogging.

Ace Hotel's decor appeals to the well-styled manly man, the London Times reports. One who knows that "living in a skip limits one’s pulling capacity."

Sustainable homes aren't so accessible to regular, can't-afford-a-consultant folks, the Register-Guard reports.

Second opinions

TVA Architects and Walker Macy's second-effort designs for Saturday Market's move to Waterfront Park were much more well-receieved by the Historic Landmarks Commission than the team's first effort, which commissioners said looked like something that belonged at the airport.

The solution, designers said during their second advice session today, came after they started treating the sunscreens like simple park structures rather than full-on buildings. The result is a slim, flat, column-supported shade with cable-stayed detailing. More on this in Wednesday's DJC...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Briefed 8.23

Translations for Willamette Week's story on the University of Oregon move to Old Town: "attracted little attention" means at least one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight stories have been written since UO announced the move in January 2006. And "Moisan" is Ankrom.

The Portland Mercury's Scott Moore weighs in with the possibility of Hoyt Street Properties (and others) building a Pearl District School in exchange for more FAR. And Hoyt Street definitely needs the FAR.

Good neighbors

The U.S. Green Building Council has released the LEED for Neighborhood development pilot participants -- and there aren't as many Portland projects as I thought there'd be.

LEED-ND is, it seems, a gimme for a lot of Portland projects. As Green Building Services' Terry Miller told me last month, "If you do any infill development that has services that are walkable and has access to transportation, you will do well in LEED- ND." But when it came down to it, just five -- Ladd Tower, Hoyt Street's properties, the Eliot, Helensview, and the South Waterfront Central District -- signed on. (18 of the registered 238 projects asked to remain confidential.)

Hmmm. Maybe, as Helensview assistant project manager Devin Culbertson said, it's a case of "How much LEED do you need?"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Briefed 8.22

West Seattlites are against the development of a PetCo that Gary Reddick and Sienna Architecture Co. are designing.

Interesting International Herald Tribune story about architecture design competitions, in which Thom Mayne points out that the GSA didn't make clear the hypothetical-ness of the site during the Eugene Courthouse competition, and therefore screwed over the design team. (I'm paraphrasing.)

I used to obsessively check the H&M website, hoping they'd board the internet commerce train and offer their cheap chic online. But, as ultra pdx says, with a Seattle store on the way, is Portland far behind? Potential bonus: Most of the Euro H&M's are in coolly renovated historic spaces. Hello, Galleria.

Is Wyatt developer Bob Ball running for mayor? Perhaps, Willamette Week reports.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Talking points

There's some really interesting video footage of Thomas Hacker talking about Atwater Place over at the sales site (11 clips, all under the "living on the river" tab at the top).

Yep, it's a marketing thing. And one that works...the makers of Atwater Place would actually have one million of my dollars now, could I figure out which Swiss Bank account it's in. (Basel, Berne, Basel, Berne?) But it's also an engaging look at a creator talking with verve about what he's created.

Let's have discourse

I love public meetings. They may be boring, and extended exercises in finding 50 ways to say the exact same thing, but they're also places where passionate people tend to say just about anything that pops into their head. Plus, you hear the concisest architectural opinions ("real ugly looking.")

Tonight's Debate Club (a Mercury-Bus Project forum aimed at making your mind giddyup) isn't exactly a public meeting. But the topic -- gentrification -- generates almost as much passion as, say, floor area ratio. I'm hoping neighborhood activists will actually be there, along with people who love a democracy-related excuse to drink whiskey on a Tuesday.

Panelists are Jill Fuglister of the Coalition for a Liveable Future, Rich Rogers of Erik Sten’s office, John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute, and real estate agent Michelle Reeves. David Bragdon moderates.

Tonight. rontoms, 600 E. Burnside. 7 p.m.

And in another conversationally-related item, over at Oregon Live's Foster-Powell blog Linda Goertz wonders if the month Portland City Council has prescribed for neighbors and developers to agree on the SE 74th & Lafayette project is really long enough. Among the circulating suggestions for compromise: "Developer should disappear." That would indeed do it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Three to judge PDX designs

Judges for the AIA/IIDA design awards 2007 proceedings are Wendell Burnette of Wendell Burnette Architects of Phoenix, Anne Fougeron of Fougeron Architects of San Francisco, and Bing Thom of Bing Thom Architects of Vancouver, B.C. (that's his work on Arena Stage in the image).

Timeline: Entry packets are available today. Submissions are due Sept. 24. The event is Oct. 12 at the Governor Hotel.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Down for the count

The Columbian is counting down to Clark County's best piece of architecture, as determined by five area architects, among them Kalina Kunert, Larry Wilson and Rob Barrantine. I'm assuming the other two panelists are Don Luthardt and Karl Johansson, who are quoted in the articles, but the paper doesn't explicitly say that or list the panelists (seriously, journalists). They're all on the AIA Vancouver board, though, so that makes sense.

The paper will reveal the panel's top choice on Sunday (the countdown hit number 3 today with Esther Short Park) as well as the top 10 favorites of Clark County residents. Revealed picks include Officers Row, Clark County Courthouse, and Clark County Public Service Center.

The suspense may strike me dead. Predictions?

The Academy was the top choice, and the paper (finally) i.d.s the panel properly.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In with the in crowd

900 St. Clair, a 51-unit apartment building in Southwest Portland apparently designed in the aftermath of a ragingly-bad-yet-uninspired acid trip, sold to a local owner-manager for $3.4 million.

My favorite sentence from the Norris, Beggs & Simpson press release:

“The look and feel of 900 St. Clair is in keeping with the hipper, kind of Doug Fir crowd,” summarizes (NBS Associate Vice President Robert) Black, citing the cool 1960s design of a popular watering hole for the city’s most discerning and moneyed hipsters.

Rents at the building that aesthetics forgot currently start at $525 and $565 for studios and one-bedrooms and $1,000 for the two-bedroom "penthouses." New owners see a shot at getting market rents, and plan on pumping $250,000 more in improvements to the recently upgraded building. Later, undiscerning and poor hipsters.

Doll house

Adorable isn't a word I use to describe much architecture. Or cute. If I do, I'm being a jerk. But over at Metroblogging, dieselboi's got photos posted of a couple little, c-c-c-c-ute houses that are going up in North Portland.

Small houses. I'm for them. Even if they're cute. I've heard small houses are the new big house, and I like that, but I don't know if it's true or if I just want it to be true (I can think of so many things that seem true, like more people using recycled toilet paper and public transportation, until I look at what I and people I actually know are doing).

I'm in the up-and-coming homebuying supposedly eco-savvy generation. But, really, 70 percent of my friends live in way more space than they actually need. And the ones who don't spend a lot of time complaining about how they don't have enough "storage."

Maybe...maybe... little infill projects like these mark a switch. Or the start of something viable, livable, and right-next-door-for-peering-in-the-windows. I wonder what the storage situation is like.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Briefed 8.14

The O's Ryan Frank has a very loose concept of when time began, but nicely reports that UO, the Naitos, and others have whipped out the wet wipes in Old Town. Past DJC stories about the Old Town uplift are here and here.

Still-empty "sliver" park at Gerding Theatre waits on materials from China, the O's Marty Hughley reports.

Neil Goldschmidt is Moses, a piece in the Arizona Daily Star opines. Oh, and Portland is a good role model for Tucson. No Moses, but still ok.

ZGF is doing a massive mixed-use project in Denver.

Minus Andy Warhol

Eyes on the street: It's one of the most useful phrases a developer has. Instead of saying, "this project will add 100 people to your neighborhood, all of whom have a car, a silence-shattering stereo system, and a dog that will definitely shit on your lawn," developers point out that each of those 100 people has two eyes, and those two eyes will detect wrongdoing with laserlike efficiency.

This is good spin. I wonder if it's true. I hope it is, especially in the case of the Couch Park Apartments, which Opus Northwest is planning (and SERA's designing) for NW 19th Ave. directly across from the eastern edge of Couch Park.

I'm completely selfish with this. (I live in Northwest.) Couch Park has always seemed like a decent place to booze, score drugs, or get called a foxy mama, but I like a little less Studio 54 in my green spaces. Basically, I'm a drag.

It'd be cool, though, if the eyes on the street thing really works. Optometrists, unite. And rent from Opus.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Well, the odds were good

John Carroll has Ankrom Moisan working on designs for his 10th and Yamhill effort, which he's planning to go tall with. More on this in Monday's DJC...

Briefed 8.10

SeQuential Biofuels' Eugene filling station gets a nod from Architectural Record as a spot that's "using green design to make an architectural statement that their pit stops are as ecoconscious as their fuels."

A couple local projects have commissioned art, so says the Studio Art Direct blog. Among 'em are a Strand penthouse that Ankrom Moisan's doing.

Bermuda it ain't: North Portland triangle park gets an extreme makeover, the O reports.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Briefed 8.9

Bloggers doing the work for me:

Jetson Green calls Holst's 12.5 "extremely good looking"; 12.5 blushes, drops the lashes, and murmers, "you're not so bad yourself." As a side note, I recently noticed an ad for 12.5 in the back of Dwell.

Port's Jeff Jahn suggests an incentive program for developers who make space for cultural institutions in their projects, which seems like an idea that deserves a task force.

TVA and Wieden + Kennedy teamed up on sand building.

The street outside SERA's Old Town offices is, apparently, an attractive place to do drugs. SERA's offices, meanwhile, remain an attractive place to do architecture.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Swan song

John Yeon's Swan House is for sale for $1.575 million. This is the first time that the house -- and the four plummy West Hills acres it sits on -- has ever been on the market.

Briefed 8.6

John Carroll is taking another whack at redeveloping the "stinking mess" of a Smart Park on 10th and Yamhill, the O reports.

The Seattle P-I's art critic thinks Randy Gragg should look outside of Portland with Spaces.

ZGF designed a show-me-the-green hq for the EPA in Denver, but cost considerations let China's materials beat out Colorado's, the Rocky Mountain News says.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Modern is good for NoPo infill site, design commission says

The Portland Design Commission denied a neighbor's appeal of a modern, green, glass-and-stucco three-story triplex on North Vancouver Ave. during its meeting yesterday.

The full story will be in Monday's DJC, but commissioners basically said that though they understand the concerns, the design integrates nicely into the commercial-residential mix within that particular piece of Portland. Lloyd Lindley called the architecture "well orchestrated."

One thing about the meeting that struck me -- but I didn't include in Monday's article -- was the half-assed communication on both sides. The design team from William Kaven and developer Rich Anderson didn't meet with the neighborhood (Christopher Sahli, the Boise Neighborhood Association's land use co-chair said Daniel Kaven was a no-show for a presentation to the board). Kaven said he hadn't actually been on a meeting agenda, and the BNA board's concerns with the design were news to him.

Nobody was required to talk to anybody on this (a triplex isn't big enough to mandate a neighborhood meeting). But to try and develop a limit-pushing infill project in a neighborhood that's been known to kick up a little dust without having a public conversation trying to get past a drug-sniffing dog with a joint in your sock.

Briefed 8.3

The urban growth boundary is baby-friendly, the Sellwood Bee reports, as are baby slingshots. Er. Slings. Baby slings.

Mahlum Architects is designing a to-be-LEED-certified school in McMinville, the News-Register reports.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Briefed 8.1

The O reports that the Evergreen Airport project may be on its moribund-bed, but a new developer may bring it back from the tippy-slippy edge of total moribundity.

Amanda Fritz hears that the main post office could move from Northwest Portland to 82nd Ave., freeing up prime land for something other than postage.

The top ten green building blogs, as named by sustainablog Jetson Green...the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's green pro-written Building Seattle Green is among 'em.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spaces open

I was rummaging through the internet and found a call for interns for Portland Monthly's new Randy Gragg-led shelter-ish magazine that also contained details about the mag itself.

From the email:

"Debuting in January, Spaces will be a regional home and garden magazine. But this being Portland, the idea of “home” and “garden” will be stretched.

Mission: Portland Spaces is a magazine about the design of the places we live, work, play and gather. It’s a guide for creating spaces to love from gardens, kitchens and living rooms, to workplaces and neighborhoods to the city and the region as a whole. It is about the opportunities and tradeoffs in balancing sustainability, elegance and value, both when money is no object but also when it is, by necessity or by choice. Spaces will be a magazine, a website and a public discussion series that will inform, provoke, and celebrate the city ‑ the people and spaces that have made Portland into one of the most distinct, creative and dynamic places in the country."

A magazine, a website, and a public discussion series. Excellently executed, this could be...incredible.

TVA is having an excellent day

Bob Frasca says TVA's Bob Thompson is the "leading architect of his generation" in a Trib profile; Trib itself calls Thompson's towers "heroic."

Briefed 7.31

Reykjavik, Iceland beats out Portland as the greenest place on earth in Grist's rankings, WWeek reports, but second-ranked PDX tops Curitaba, Brazil and its lawnmowing sheep fleet. In your FACE, Curitaba.

Engineers are in big demand, the O reports, as young math junkies figure out they can make more money in other fields.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I just can't make myself call it SoWa

News flurries from the O:

Ankrom Moisan is to design South Waterfront apartments that are harbinger of a development shift in the city.

Opus Northwest's East Vancouver mixed-use development The Landing at Evergreen has problems, among them no anchor tenant. Mulvanny G2 is the architect.

Oregon State University's Weatherford Hall, designed by Bennes & Herzog in 1928 and renovated by SERA in 2004, gets its LEED certification.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

No turrets, you see

Walker Macy and TVA Architects presented designs for Saturday Market's new home in Waterfront Park to the Historic Landmarks Commission during a design advice yesterday afternoon.

The commission...did not much care for the design, especially TVA's airy, modern, bridge-inspired shade structures. Full story in tomorrow's DJC, but photos of the huge model are online at the PDC website now.

Best Q+A ever

Talking with Anna, the automated online Ikea help-bot:

Q: Will the Portland store be a success?
Anna: Here you can find all the information about our store in Portland.

Q: Did people really camp out overnight?
Anna: There are many different methods of communication, some faster than others. If you need to communicate with IKEA, you can use this form I am opening for you.

Q: Who's your favorite architect?
Anna: Sorry but I'm not clear on how that particular type of employment relates to IKEA products or services. Could you be more specific to an IKEA product or service?

Q: Which is better, herring or meatballs?
Anna: Here you can find Swedish food.

Well. That does it for my questions. But if you're unsatisfied, more Ikeamania:

People unfamiliar with the fact that Ikea sells stuff on the internets were camped outside, the Business Journal and the O report. The first 100 did get free armchairs.

Expect traffic if you're headed to the airport, and a madhouse if you're headed to Ikea.

Friday, July 20, 2007

No regs on the showers for $250 a night

There was a hard-hat media tour of The Nines, the Meier & Frank topping sustainably swanky hotel, yesterday. Stories are here, here and here.

My big question was, what happens when guest expectations -- and at $250 a night, there's expectations to be had -- of luxury don't fit the green mission? Well, one spot the team's conceding is the showers, which won't be getting low-flow fixtures.

"When people stay in a hotel, they want a nice, long, hot shower," says Ken Geist, who's a partner at developer Sage Hospitality.

Revolving floors

Fletcher Farr Ayotte is moving from the Mohawk Building (Interface Engineering lives there) to the A.E. Doyle-designed Pacific Building. FFA's taking over the entire ninth floor, which they're now in the process of tarting up (move-in's expected in the fall).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

See and be (green) seen

Maybe it's hype (probably). Maybe I have green envy (definitely). But if other cities have sustainable bars and clubs...where's Portland's green-built-bartender-powered-zero-waste watering hole?

Plus, they're better looking than buses

Homer Willams and Dike Dame are pushing a streetcar system for Los Angeles in a particularly compelling opinon piece in the Los Angeles Downtown News. Their money stat: an initial $57 million investment spurred $2.5 billion in development along Portland's seven-mile stretch of streetcar.

Building skin

Un-architect Kevin Cavenaugh of the Burnside Rocket, Box + One and Ode to Rose's fame is grinning in Bishops Barbershop's every day people ad campaign.

(That tagline gets so much more interesting once you realize the "every day people" are shirtless.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Handsome is as handsome does, Marriott

SERA's design for a downtown Courtyard by Marriott sailed through Portland Design Commission yesterday, winning unanimous approval. Jeff Stuhr called it "very handsome."

The commission also handed out some effusive love for the Mirabella (Ankrom Moisan's retirement tower on South Waterfront) but complained -- with feeling -- about the fact that PDOT hasn't produced a traffic study and and Parks hasn't done anything on the planned two-block park. More on this in Monday's DJC...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

His name is Earl

Life style

Really architecturally interesting living spaces up for sale:

Van Evera Bailey estate in west hills, $2.5 million. It "posesses a patina."

Robert Thompson-designed contemporary in Hillside, $1.55 million. No word on the patina, but it's sleek and spacy like much of Thompson's work.

Skylab's 3333 NW Quimby, ? (Price wasn't part of the listing. But it looks serious...that's it there in the photo) What a tree would look like, created under the supervision of a mod God.

Finally, in the cheapest-and-quirkiest slot, the Portland Pullman, $225,000. 1949 railcar (I think it's been part of the Architecture Foundation of Oregon's Dinner with an Architect series more than once) with architect-designed sexy interiors. Plus, no property taxes because it doesn't actually come with property.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The first-ish LEED gold building in Bend

Media releases went out earlier this week announcing the groundbreaking for a new multi-use office building that Gerding Edlen, ODS Companies and Western Title & Escrow Company are developing in the Old Mill District in Bend.

The release touted the project, which includes offices and a dental hygiene school, as expecting to be the first LEED gold building in Bend.

Except it (probably) won't be.

Scott Steele -- whose almost-finished Steele Associates Architects headquarters is expected to get the first gold -- sent out a highly polite email requesting correction of the release (which the Old Mill project team did, swapping in "one of the first" where first had been).

I point this out not because the mistake isn't understandable (who keeps track of every LEED hopeful?) but because it is. As green building and LEED become part of the common language of building, claims of first-best-greenest-earthiest become part of the common language of public relations.

People should be loudly proud of their LEED projects. First or fiftieth. But it would also be cool if the answer to "who keeps track of every LEED hopeful?" was, well, the people making a claim.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Too sexy for their swerve

The City of Keizer’s having an ultimate it-looked-different-on-paper problem with traffic bollards that citizens find overly suggestive.

This is obviously an important design issue, and while task forces are forming, I’ll just toss this out: can adding “metal collars and chains” really make something less racy?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Architectural surveys

InsideArch is this website that's billed as a tool for getting inside the employee culture of architecture firms -- and employees of 16 Portland firms have filled out surveys.

For most of the sixteen, surveys appear to have been filled out by either a. a PR person or b. an underpaid, overworked,this-close-to-giving-the-principals-the-finger employee. Still, the site's entertaining in the same way bathroom graffitti is entertaining (and maybe more useful to architecture job seekers than stall scribbles).

Marathon meetings

Skanska's the build half of the design-build team for PSU's new rec center (Yost Grube Hall got the design nod this fall), the O and the Biz Journal reported Tuesday.

The project's back before the design commission for review on July 19. Last appearance, YGH designers weren't sure if the building would be six stories or four (the OUS capital building budget approved by the legislature will let it be six). And commissioners weren't all that sure about the building design, which they said lacked panache on three of the four sides.

Should be an interesting review. Also coming up before the commission for review are the new downtown Courtyard by Marriot (SERA), Mirabella (Ankrom Moisan) and East of Pearl (EDA Architecture and Planning, I think), all next Thursday. Sharing the agenda with YGH on the 19th is review of a senior living facility in Gateway (MCM) and advice for condos on Broadway and the office tower at 100 NE Multnomah (AMAA in its second advice appearance for this project).

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Les is more (unless the more is beef-related)

GBD's designing the new Les Schwab headquarters in Juniper Ridge, a 1,500 acre development in Bend.

Bend residents got a look at the proposed design on Saturday, when the Bulletin tossed up pre-review renderings.

The buttresses are odd (unless it was meant to be a gargoyle-buttress one-two punch, and the gargoyles got value engineered out). Other than that, I have no actual opinion on the design. I'd warm up in a hurry, though, if interior plans reveal the building contains. . . a free.beef.vault.

Monday, July 2, 2007

An idea, you mean?

Around (yet not in) PDX:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

If it's ugly, light it up. It's an aloftism.

Developer of the new aloft Portland, a trendy-traveler aimed hotel out by the Portland airport, calls the space "sassy and smart" in a story in today's O.

Myhre Group's designing the $12 million project, which will feature trademark aloft "swoof" on the roof.

The swoof, if you're unfamiliar with such a thing, contains nearly 70 different colors and is exceedingly ugly. But it'll be lit up at night, which may trick the hipster crowd the hotel's targeting into thinking that it's so ugly it's sexy. Like yellow eyeshadow and bowling shoes.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Interesting things on the internets:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Do I hear one million?

AIA Portland's looking for art by architects (and members of the architecture community) to auction off as a fundraiser for its new
Center for Architecture (that's it in the photo).

Rules and stuff are here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I wish it was Gene Simmons

First of all, I had no idea that Tommy Thayer of KISS was on Pacific University's board of trustees. But Thayer (the band's new Ace Frehley) is hosting the Pacific University Legends Golf Classic, which is happening July 29-30 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

Now you're wondering why this is getting a mention -- I'm obviously not stalking Tommy Thayer, or if I am, I'm really bad at it. It's because Gerding Edlen and Mahlum Architects are two of the big sponsors. KISS and Portland's built environment (oddly) don't get together all that often, so I'm makin' a note.

Sketched out

Delayed reaction: Brian Libby had a review in the O of Brad Clopefil's show at PDX Contemporary Art, which will be up until June 27 if you want to see the real deal.

Reviewing a review sounds like something only a journalist would even think of doing. So I'm not going to.

But I will say -- I think the incubation and ultimate execution of architecture is artistically compelling. Especially the idea of chronicling different manifestations of a project as it goes along. SERA today presented its design for the new downtown Courtyard by Mariott, which will be back before the design commission on July 12 (there'll be a story in Monday's DJC). Part of the presentation was a series of considered-and-rejected designs, as well as sketches from a very, very basic design point for the building patterning to a fully grown (and almost approved) design.

And seeing it was seeing what would have happened had Van Gogh said "The hell with sunflowers. I'm a begonia man." Awesome. People are naturally curious about the maybes and the mights and the could-haves, and architecture is one of the few fields where the almosts can really be part of the end art.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Please, call me Doug

The Doug Fir and the Jupiter Hotel -- and architect Jeff Kovel -- get a nod in Toronto's Globe and Mail. The story says the lower Burnside hotspot is a place Paul Bunyan and Andy Warhol could have teamed on. It also calls the drinkin' and eatin' side of the space the Douglas Fir Lounge.

Why so formal, Globe and Mail?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Walk like a duck

L.A. and Portland don't have a whole lot in common -- if the two cities were people, there'd be a LOT of awkward silence at cocktail parties -- but efforts by a couple local developers could put a Portland feel on downtown Los Angeles streets.

The South Group's (the Williams & Dame and Gerding Edlen collaboration) creation of wider, walker-savvy sidewalks for its projects are exactly what L.A. planners have in mind in their quest for a strollable city, Los Angeles Downtown News is reporting.

Pedestrian-friendly sidewalks aren't just a Portland thing. Lovin' the automobile isn't just a L.A. thing. But every single Portland project I've heard discussed -- in design commission meetings, among architects, in studios -- has put the pedestrian experience far above the auto experience. You can't talk about building in this city without talking about what it'll do for the level at which people live. And it's very cool to see that L.A.'s starting to do the same. And that Portland developers have their mitts in it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Opsis Architecture's 1,400 square-foot model cottage at Pringle Creek Community, an under-construction green development in South Salem, gets spotlighted for its efficiency -- and its small size -- in the Salem Statesman Journal.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cloepfil at PDX Contemporary

Brad Cloepfil's drawings of Allied Works projects will be exhibited in June at PDX Contemporary Art. The show, Drawing/Making ,will run June 5 through 30 at the gallery, 925 N.W. Flanders St.
The drawing that's on the show postcard -- which is how I heard about it -- is a simple geometric simple study of Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis' facade, done in charcoal on trace paper.

Very worth a stop on the First Thursday circuit...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Messing with Texas

Major before and after: BOORA's designing the $14.7 million renovation (which revved up this week) of Bass Concert Hall at the University of Texas at Austin.

The 1981 building's opressive (in the way that corrective facilities are oppressive) brick facade will get scrapped in favor of a five-floor glass-encased lobby. Light spills in, activity spills out...architecturally nudged creative outreach.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Architecture is art. And the idea that architecture, like art, is something that can and should be preserved through collecting has taken root (great stories in Departures and Wallpaper).

The architecture and the architect (even not-Franks) matter to some buyers (particularly the ones who can pay serious cash). And when something matters to buyers, real estate agents grab hold. But even on, where on-the-market works by architects like Edward Durell Stone and Mies van der Rohe are listed, real estate agents miss the point.

Oregon's solo showing is a Northwest contemporary home in Corvallis designed by Portland architect Howard Glazer. But Washington has three listings -- and the trio works as a perfect example of agents v. architecture.

One listing, for a $1.2 million midcentury modern work tucked into a forest hillside, gets right to the point -- and it's a big point. NBBJ founder Perry Johansen designed the international-style residence in 1965; the front door was done by Portland sculptor Lee Kelly.

The second is for a 1991 McMansion -- "perfect for holiday entertaining!" and "HAS IT ALL!" -- and doesn't nod to design, designer, or architectural significance.

The third, for a Seattle townhouse, also doesn't mention the architect. But unlike the missing McArchitect, this omission's significant. The home is in Hillclimb Court, which was designed by Jim Olson and Rick Sundberg of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects and won a Seattle AIA honor award in 1983. The firm's also done striking work on projects like Delta Shelter, An American Place, and The Brain (in the photo), but that doesn't get a nod. The wall-to-wall carpeting, however, does.

Lame. But who designs a building, amazingly, is becoming a part of how a building gets positioned in the real estate market. Particularly, it seems, in Portland, where attaching an architect or firm name to a condo tower might be the thing that makes a buyer choose the John Ross over the Encore or the Casey over 937 (more architect-as-marketing later).

It's important for people to know who designed their living spaces -- who designed, in effect, the walls within their most basic and intimate lifestyle takes place. But it's also important, as a city, to know who designed the homes that are or will become architecturally significant. Real estate agents can have a big role. So can architects and developers, neighbors and writers, students and professors. Architecture is art -- treating it as such will save it.

Just so you know, Ed Begley Jr. was into the environment waaay before Brad Pitt

Stuff other reporters reported:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Take it to the rank

Ah, school rankings -- total bulls$!%, but necessary total bulls$!%. Like, how else would America's youth, like, figure out where to go to school* without doing any, like, research?

DesignIntellegence just released its 2007 list of the country's best architecture and design schools. And UO's School of Architecture and Allied Arts did pretty well.

Where the Ducks landed:

Undergraduate landscape architecture ranked third in the region (the region is Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming) and first in the category of skills assessments for sustainable design concepts and principles. Nationally, the undergraduate landscape architecture program tied for 15th and the graduate landscape architecture program was ranked 13th.

The architecture grad program tied (with Southern California Institute of Architecture) for first in the western region. Undergrad architecture was second in the western region, and second in the category category of skills assessments for sustainable design concepts and principles. Nationally, the undergraduate architecture program ranked 15th.

Undergraduate and graduate interior architecture programs were ranked first in the region and second in the category of skills assessments for sustainable design concepts and principles. Nationally, the undergraduate interior design program was ranked 10th and the graduate interior design program sixth.

Rankings were based on survey of industry leaders and private-sector professionals involved in hiring.

*Confession: I'm such a sucker for rankings. I got my grad degree at a journalism school that consistently ranked first or second in the country. That is, until the practice of ranking journalism schools was discontinued, mostly because the last list had a program that didn't actually exist in its top five. Nice work, fourth estate.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A zero-hour historic preservation effort

Tick tock -- architecture fans who don't want to see a wrecking ball rip through a Pietro Belluschi-designed Lake Oswego home have two weeks to do something about it, Lee van der Voo of the Lake Oswego Review reports.

The 1950 home's got many of the elements midcentury modern fans crave: dominant fireplace, sliding doors and windows, beamed ceilings, straightforward, simple design and layout. It's also got problems: dry rot and a roof and radiant heat flooring system in need of major repairs.

Developer George Hale "has had it listed for sale for about a year and is working with history fans to preserve it." How long has Hale been working with preservationists? Oh, since about nine days ago, which is when the preservationists got wind of demolition plans (by word of mouth).

At this point, Hale's operating on a you-can-have-it-if-you-get-it-off-my-property model.

Demolition's scheduled in two weeks. Short timeline...but doable?

Monday, May 7, 2007

It's not?

City in the spotlight:

Los Angeles Times writer Chris Reynolds comes to Portland to ride the streetcar and overuse the words trendy and weird.

AND a cool story in the New York Times about Bert Sperling, the Portlander who researches those best/worst cities lists (Portland's third-runner-up this year, and will be crowned best city should Gainsville or Bellingham need to step down due to nudie photos and/or substance abuse). Best quote from the article: They didn’t seem to get the idea, Mr. Sperling said, that most families’ idea of fun is "not to lose money or take your top off."

Friday, May 4, 2007

Gragg to go

Willamette Week reports that Randy Gragg is leaving the Oregonian. The architecture and urban design critic's last day, according to the story, will be May 11.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

"Why can't they just show the movie?"

I'm not in San Antonio. But if I were, I wouldn't be listening to Al Gore speak on Saturday at the AIA National Convention, because members of the media are blocked from attending.

Banning the media from events usually has three effects. One, it makes people who poke into other peoples bidness professionally wonder why a seemingly straightforward speech would be closed. Two, it makes people whose ability to write well is their big ticket talent get all snarky and sharp-witted.

Third -- and most importantly -- it makes us insanely crazy about not knowing what's going on in there.

Ahem. So. If anyone knows what went on in there and wants to tell me about it, that would be swell.

MAY 9 UPDATE: Reporters from several outlets, among them Architectural Record and the San Antonio Express, snuck in. (Basically, Gore said global warming's a big fat problem and architects can play a big part in solving it, and also laid out a plan to tax polluters.) On a side note, the Express defends its choice to defy a ombudsman's column that's taking some heat because it ends on this note: "To me, it was like crashing a Ku Klux Klan rally. Gore didn't want coverage. We think he deserved it. "

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Maybe we should have gotten them to do our museum

Assorted media love -- and indifference -- for Allied Works' Seattle Art Museum addition:

Time magazine's Richard Lacayo calls its "handsomely proportioned and detailed," the Los Angeles Times offers a, the Seattle Times calls Brad Cloepfil "freckled, curly-haired and earnestly Oregonian" but also talks about design and other un-hairdo-related things. There's also Randy Gragg's long (but worth it) Q+A with Cloepfil.

This weekend's the big opening, if anyone's headed north...they're doing this thing where the musuem's open for 35 hours straight (starting at 10 a.m. Saturday). 3 a.m. is a good time, I bet, to beat the crowds.

"It's had a dumpster in front of it for the past 15 years."

Almost anything would be better than what's currently at 300 S.W. Sixth Ave. - and the hotel project that's planned is shaping up to be much more than just anything.

Transformation of "what some call the ugliest building in Portland," has two distinct pieces -- the hotel, a Courtyard Marriot that hometown architects SERA are designing, and the ground-floor restaurant, which New York firm D-ASH is doing, SERA design principal John Echlin said.

Hotel design's still in its early stages, but what SERA took to the Portland Design Commission for advice April 19 was a plan to replace the existing marble with a lighter skin, probably glass reinforced concrete or thin shell concrete (exactly what it'll look like is a big part of what's still being worked out). And they're looking, Echlin said, at creating much of the building's visual interest with the patterning of that skin.

The restaurant, which will have its own distinct identity, is concieved as more of a glazed outdoor room, with D-ASH's work on the interiors coming through to grab attention from the street.

Commissioners said (to paraphrase) it's about freaking time. In the sage words of commissioner Andrew Jansky, "It's had a dumpster in front of it for the past 15 years."

Commissioners also said that the design needs more work (Jeff Stuhr called it "a little bit banal") but were pretty confident that SERA would get to something cool.

I'm hoping to have more on the project in the DJC soon...

Keeping up with the Spitzers

The New York governor's mansion is getting a green overhaul.

So, Ted, how green is your mansion?

I've got a call in to the gov's office...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

TV guide

Dennis Wilde's making his big small screen debut tonight at 9 p.m. on the Sundance Channel.

Monday, April 30, 2007

It's something ugly buildings say

Does being green automatically make a building beautiful, or does what's on the outside count too? The Washington Post gives a little thought to the question of whether looks matter here.

And because beauty and inspiration are one of the 16 prerequisites that have to be met for projects to become uber-sustainable Living Buildings (through the Cascadia Region Green Building Council's Living Building Challenge), the question also came up during last week's Cascadia/AIA Seattle Living Future conference.

General feeling: buildings aren't just beautiful because they're green. But while a beauty and inspiration brainstorming session churned up a lot of "what is beauty?" "who can define what beauty is?" and "does beauty even exist?" Philosophy 101-type questions, it also turned up a lot of questions about how something that can't necessarily be planned or touched can be proved during a certification process.

Awesome solution: Building must give one in 50 visitors the chills, bring one in 300 visitors to tears, inspire one in 1,000 visitors to break into interpretive dance on sight, etc. etc.

Even more awesome solution: Can't beauty just be the one thing that doesn't get a hundred-item checklist and a pile of paperwork?


Mahlum, Opsis pick up Medford projects as designer of “grandiose” schools gets booted for lack of Oregon licensure.