Portland Spaces hands out inaugural Root Awards to Skylab, Holst, BOORA and more (including a chicken coop)
On Wednesday night at the Portland Art Museum, Portland Spaces magazine gave out its first annual Root Awards in about 25 different categories.
After a sponsor presentation from Nike on their new recycled basketball shoes, master of ceremonies for the event was performance artist Andrew Dickson. I've loved Dickson's work for years, such as his "Ebay power seller" routine at the TBA Festival. However, I had to laugh a little at how things have panned out for Dickson. A couple years ago I reviewed for The Oregonian a performance of Dickson's in which he wrestled over the course of an evening with whether his having done a single contract job for Wieden + Kennedy advertising was "selling out". (I didn't ever think it was.) Now, though, that issue must be resolved, because he's now on staff at W+K, and with all due respect to Andrew, this one time starving artist is even looking, dare I say it, maybe a little plumper now. (But then, who am I to talk as a balding, increasingly heavier short guy?)
The Root Awards were given out in three principal categories: Home, Work, and Play, with additional 'Masters' lifetime achievement awards and a special extra category.
The workplace-oriented awards went to four projects. Communitecture, Mark Lakeman's venerable (and quintessentially hippy-Portland) firm, won in the 'entry' category for its Sisters of the Road Cafe - a well deserved honor for a humble food kitchen. Skylab won the 'office' category in designs for the branding company North (pictured above), while Holst Architecture was honored for the main conference room at the new AIA/Portland Center for Architecture. BOORA Architects won the 'lounge' award for the communal work spaces in the firm's own new offices.
The home-centered awards were the biggest category with 11 honors. The overall 'home' award went to architect Nathan Good for his Canon Beach Residence (pictured). This choice surprised me for a couple reasons. First, Nathan is based in Salem now, which I'd think would disqualify him. Second, the runners up were Skylab's M1 house and Giulietti/Schouten's Walnut House, both of which I found far more visually compelling. But Good's project is a net-zero energy house, which the jury understandably found impressive. And it's not like he's not deserving; that project is terrific. I was just aesthetically more jazzed by the other nominees. The comment from juror Iris Harrell may also be telling: "Very Oregonian, very green, very beautiful in a timeless, earthy way." Smacks just a little of Oregon cliche.
Also in the home category, the 'building' award went to the Orchid Street City Homes, a LEED Platinum-rated duplex by Building Arts Workshop. I'm not sure how this category differs from the one Nathan Good won, but the Orchid project is impressive.
Meanwhile, other awards in this category: Arciform won the 'interior' award for their 'Ranchel' remodel (I prefered finalist Jessica Helgerson for the Zahoudani Residence). Architecture W won for their 'Stump House' in Northeast Portland. I wrote about this house recently for an upcoming Dwell magazine issue and loved it. The home is expected to also earn a Platinum LEED rating and features a remarkable solar heating system.
Continuing the home category, BOORA Architects won the 'room' award for its Kitchel Residence, while remodeling company Neil Kelly won the 'kitchen' category for its Ganzini Residence. This was another case were I preferred a different finalist: Paolo Design Group for its 'Tile quilt of many colors' kitchen. Neil Kelly also won the 'bathroom' category for its Young residence, although again I preferred Corso Staicoff's Penthouse Bath project.
The 'outdoor' category honored Go Yurt Shelters for its Modern Green Yurt, while the 'yard' category bestowed its prize on the Chicken Sedan by Harley Cowan, a chicken coup which also won the AIA/Portland People's Choice Award. The architect sitting next to me was rolling his eyes with exasperation when the chicken coup won, but its charm is easily apparent. Not to put all my eggs in one basket or ruffle anyone's feathers, but I for one am glad the jurors weren't chicken about singling out this project. Maybe they were just winging it.
Sienna Architecture and architect Jeff Lamb won the 'crafted detail' award for their Del Castello Penthouse. This is another hugely impressive project which I had the good fortune to check out while writing a recent article for Luxe magazine. Jeff basically created an entire art gallery in this Vancouver penthouse's foyer.
The 'furniture' award within the homes category went to Jason Andrew Designs for the Genevieve chest of drawers (pictured), but the other two finalists--The Joinery's 'studio chair' and JHL Design/Modern Organic Architecture's Beam Chaise--were also excellent. Portland seems to have a bright future in furniture, which fits our city's interest in craft.
I also briefly wanted to mention Decca Deca Architecture. They didn't win any awards, but they were nominated for several.
But damn, it's tiring me out just writing all these award results. Good thing there was a full bar while these things were being given out! Hey Randy, aren't there 20 or 30 more honors you'd like to bestow while I take a nap? After all, I didn't see a 'closet' or 'cupboard' category in the home awards. How about honoring laundry rooms, or garages while we're at it? Or maybe another dance routine? (There were modern dances performed by Linda Austin and others in between categories.) Just teasing of course - it was a nicely run affair. Awards shows are just natural targets for ridicule, I think, because it's inherently weird quantifying work like this, and because it makes for a long evening, even in a best-case scenario.
The 'play' category first honored architect Von Tundra in the 'eat/drink' award for Sip (pictured), a juice cart renovated from a 40-year-old trailer. The 'retail' award went to Communitecture for The Rebuilding Center. I absolutely love this project, with its facade of mismatched windows and building parts. But wasn't it built a few years ago? I wondered if that occurred to Ziba Design, which had both of the other finalists for this award, for its Umpqua Bank flagship and its South Waterfront Discovery Center. Oh wait - the Discovery Center is years old too.
The 'hospitality' category was a hotly contested one given the number of new hotels and hotel renovations happening here lately. The award went to Hotel Deluxe, a renovation of the beloved Mallory Hotel by Hennebery/Eddy, which beat out the also excellent Hotel Modera by Holst and Corso Staicoff and the mediocre-looking Lions Gate Inn by Robert Knowles Construction. Even so, the jury's favorite hotel may have been Hotel Murano in Tacoma by Corso Staicoff, which received the 'Portland, World' award for work done outside the city.
Continuing the 'play' section though, honors went to the University of Oregon White Stag Block by Fletcher Farr Ayotte for the 'learn' category (educational projects), beating out SRG Partnership's ultra sustainable but tame-looking Mt. Angel Abbey Annunication Center and BOORA's Reynolds 4 Corners School (the latest Heinz Rudolf gem).
The 'landscape/community' award went to Opsis Architecture for the Firstenburg Community Center. Opsis really has a knack with public buildings; I still wish they'd been chosen for PSU's new recreation center downtown.
For all the sustainable building projects in Portland, the 'sustainability' award went not to a piece of architecture, but a new type of wind turbine by Oregon Wind called the Helyx HE-40. It beat out GBD Architects OHSU Center for Health and Healing, a LEED Platinum project that is maybe the greenest large medical building in America.
Finally, the 'rising star' award went to three six honorees: Cecily Ryan of Skylab Architecture (proving Jeff Kovel is not the only star at that firm), interior designer Travis Weedman of Compressed Pattern Design Studio, architect-turned sculptor David Laubenthal of DJL Studio, Works Partnership Architecture, and Eric Kaster of Eleek.
And the 'masters' lifetime achievement awards went to architect Joachim Grube of Yost Grube Hall (pictured in his gorgeous self-designed West Hills home, included in a previous Street of Eames tour) for his work in developing countries (he was also a late-career Pietro Belluschi collaborator), interior designer Mirza Dickel, and builder James Frank. Frank is a former cabinet maker who has helped give some of Rick Potestio's sophisticated designs their essential craftsmanship.
Looking back on the awards overall, even though I joke about so many 'home' category awards and so many overall, I enjoyed seeing the work of many small design firms and companies doing architecture but also furniture, interiors, landscaping, and sustainable product design. A select few firms have now won both AIA or IIDA (interior design) awards and Root Awards this year, such as Corso Staicoff and Works Partnership.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go soak these typing fingers in ice.