This month's issue of the Daily Journal of Commerce monthly magazine insert to the paper (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I freelance for) includes an article by Justin Stranzl called "Different By Design", a profile of four up-and-coming architects. All of them are deserving: Jeff Kovel of Skylab Design Group, designer of the sublime and white-hot Doug Fir restaurant; Sean and Lauren Cho of Bolighus Architecture; Fuji Shono of the husband/wife team Browning-Shono Architects; and Mark Engberg of Colab (who I previously wrote about on this weblog in a post called "Colab Is Fab").
As it happens, a couple of weeks ago I met for the first time with Sean and Lauren of Bolighus (which is pronounced BO-lee-hoos, I think, and is from a Danish word meaning "the way one lives in design"), and came away impressed. Both were educated at UO, and Sean's father was a longtime professor there. Sean previously worked at SRG Partnership and Lauren, his wife, at BOORA. Like a lot of small firms, Bolighus has mostly done single-family homes, a few of which have won some local design awards. Now I think the seven-person firm is poised for more.
Right now Bolighus is at work on the Bear Wallows Community Center as part of the Shevlin Commons housing development in Bend. The center will act as a sort of gathering place for this sustainably oriented collection of homes, and it's an inviting, light-filled space made with some innovative green materials such as Durisol blocks. Bolighus is also in the design stage for a church's community building near I-205 and Stafford Row.
Both projects not only represent the firm's evolution beyond single family homes, but also speak to their gift for creating modernism with an emphasis on local materials, a human scale, and thoughtful response to climate. It's often a real challenge for small firms to make the jump into larger commissions, but I hope some developer out there will consider Bolighus for the next mixed-use building, church, office, or school. If they have to be partnered with a service-firm chaperon, so be it. But Bolighus is an ideal example of the talent in this city waiting to be tapped for more duty.