This Friday, longtime University of Oregon professor G.Z. "Charlie" Brown will be offering a class at the BetterBricks Daylighting Lab (722 SW Second Ave.) called "Daylighting For Any Building: School Designs". Brown was one of the co-founders of the Energy Studies Lab in Portland and is a true treasure for architecture in Portland. He also wrote one of the most important early books on daylighting, called Sun, Wind and Light, long before the current emphasis on green design, and is a guru whose expertise many local designers have sought out, not only about daylighting but natural ventilation and other aspects of climate-responsive architecture.
A couple years ago I wrote about Brown and Joel Loveland, who runs BetterBricks' Seattle Daylighting Lab. Talking with them, and listening to their joint presentation of a daylighting seminar at Lightfair International in New York, was a real epiphany. For thousands of years people from China to the Middle East to Africa designed structures according to climate, solar orientation, and topography. And then with the introduction of air conditioning, all of that knowledge was suddenly ignored. The knowledge that people like Brown bring isn't just about today's emphasis on green building: It's a resurrection of the most basic tenets and precepts of architecture.
Regardless of whether local architects out there care anything about school design per se, I'd make a point to soak up what Charlie Brown has to say, because despite his name, this guy is anything but a blockhead.