Two more accolades to report on this week: First, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca has received a 2007 Governor's Arts Award from the Oregon Arts Commission. Here's the blurb from the press release:
"The firm has a long history of to integrating artists into its design teams, not just because a percent for art program mandates it, but also because the ZGF architects truly appreciate what artists bring to their projects. It has worked with the Regional Arts & Culture Council on numerous public art projects and often hired artists without any public art requirement. ZGF has also taken a leadership position with RACC's new Work for Art workplace giving program. ZGF was an early adopter of the program and consistently raises the most money each year out of the dozens of workplaces large and small that participate in Work for Art."
The award seems only peripherally related to design itself, specifically as it relates to art, but as it happens ZGF also seems to be doing good work, brought about by a nice balance of old principals like Bob Frasca with an influx of young designers. However, take the honor as you will; a fellow honoree was Oregon Art Beat, which has the sensibility (in my biased opinion) of a well meaning but out of slightly touch yokel.
Meanwhile, Portland's own Brad Cloepfil has his name on the cover of this month's Metropolis magazine as one of "4 Emerging Stars" (the others being Piero Lissoni, Bernard Khoury and Kieran Timberlake). The title of Andrew Blum's piece is "The Elementalist" and the subheading crows, "Brad Cloepfil's emerging body of work may symbolize a shift away from glib shape-making toward a more timeless and lasting architecture."
I'll bet that is music to Brad's ears. I first interviewed him five years ago for Architecture Week magazine, and I remember in that piece him talking firmly about how postmodernism was "an aberration" in the otherwise continuing history of modern architecture. He very much saw Allied Works as a continuation of what people like Louis Kahn and Mario Botta (for whom Brad worked) were already long since doing. When I profiled him for the NY Times a couple years later, the message was all the more about using a language that is elemental and timeless.
Blum also delves into past/current projects of Allied's like the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Arts & Design, and our own Wieden + Kennedy building.
Speaking of W+K, if you get a copy of the magazine, make sure to check out the full-page photo of its interior by Sally Schoolmaster. (I believe Allied used Sally for a few different projects, and I have long thought her work is first-rate.) In my copy, the photo was mistakenly placed after another article, isolated by itself. But it's a gorgeous shot that shows a panoramic view of the building's remilled timbers, angular concrete and natural light.
One of Allied Works' upcoming projects is an office building for Disney. Coincidentally, there was also an article in today's Oregonian about how the Portland office market is heating up. Apparently, a new crop of office building projects from a variety of developers could eventually be in the works. How about an Allied office building in Portland to carry on the tradition of the Standard Plaza and Big Pink?
Not likely, though, of course. These are mostly conservative business people putting these projects together, people thinking real estate and profit margin more than timeless architecture. I'm afraid they probably wouldn't be anywhere near aware enough of architecture to understand the opportunity that exists design-wise; they'll surely go with a service-oriented firm and an on-time, on-budget focus. The best you can hope for is that it'll be sustainable; at least green design the mainstream is starting to get.