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 architectureforsale.com, 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 Gore...oooh...in 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 resounding...eh, 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.