BY BRIAN LIBBY
What does October mean to you? Maybe it's about football season kicking into high gear. Maybe you're keen to stay outdoors before the rains arrive. Maybe you're caught up in the presidential race, or busy hanging Halloween decorations with your kids. But autumn is also when the arts kick into high gear, and for architects and design enthusiasts, each October brings the annual Architecture + Design Festival.
Presented by Portland's American Institute of Architects chapter but in partnership with a host of local design and arts organizations, A+D 2012 kicked off a few days ago with an opening night party at the chapter's Center For Architecture (newly minted as an independent nonprofit). Festivities continue tonight with a First Thursday celebration, also at the CFA (403 NW 11th Avenue), featuring an installation by Jordan Tull called "Ecto-Paraprism," which Tull describes as not as something from Ghostbusters but "a flexible crystalline facade that feeds off the existing core of AIA PDX. The installation explores transparency, reflection and ownership in a dynamic relationship between host architecture and parasitic intervention. Ecto-Paraprism redefines and dominates an existing structural facade to provide a temporary and alternative visual orientation for AIA PDX."
There are also two lectures this week, including a free one tonight at Portland State University's Shattuck Hall Annex by New York architect Dan Wood of WORKac called "Architects create places, not spaces,” as part of the Department of Architecture's 2012-13 lecture series. (Many already-existing events by other local entities are additionally placed under the A+D Fest banner.) Saturday brings "Electrifying Times: Streetcars and the Building of Portland" at the Architectural Heritage Center (701 SE Grand, $10-13).
Next week starts with a panel discussion on Monday, October 8 at the Center For Architecture (5:30PM, $10-15), part of the International Interior Design Association local chapter's monthly discussion forums. It promises that "compelling members of the Portland design community will be gathered to discuss the integral role collaboration plays in the emerging multi-disciplinary design industry." There's also a Tuesday film screening at 6PM for Detroit Wild City (CFA, 403 NW 11th, free) by French documentarian Florent Tillon, hailed as "a poetic portrait of the dystopian ‘Motor City’ where grass is growing in parking lots and building after building is crumbling apart." What can America's Pompeii tell us here in the Next American City?
Saturday, October 13 brings a trio of events. First, beginning at 10AM, there's "Design Matters: A Tour of Exceptional Portland Homes" ($40), featuring seven houses by a compelling variety of Portland firms. There is Skylab's HOMB, for example, a new prefab housing model that has been constructed in Portland for the first time this fall. There are also two renovations, one of a 1950s ranch house by Paul McKean (a past winner of the top local AIA design award) and another a rehab of the circa-1958 "Home of Tomorrow" by Donald Blair and William Fletcher, an AIA winner from back in 1960. Also included is the striking wood-festooned Graham Towers duplex, one of the last projects by PATH Architecture before lead designer Corey Martin left for THA Architecture.
If you're not looking to drive all over town for the homes tour, October 13th also brings a lecture by architect-historian William Hawkins, also at 10AM called "Greek Revival Style in the Oregon Territory,1839-1859" ($10-18) at the Architectural Heritage Center (701 SE Grand). There's also the ASLA Design Awards, honoring the best in local landscape arcthitecture (6PM, Tiffany Center ballroom, 1410 SW Morrison, $65-85).
October 16 brings two more events, both at 6PM. A lecture at the University of Oregon (70 NW Couch, free) called "Material Computation" will be delivered by Achim Menges, architect and professor at the Institute for Computational Design at the University of Stuttgart. A pioneer in construction innovation, Menges will discuss how material characteristics can drive architectural form using computational techniques, which promotes an understanding of form, material and structure not as separate elements, but rather as complex interrelations. At the same time, there's a screening of the film How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? (CFA, 403 NW 11th, free). Directors Norberto Lopez Amado & Carlos Carcas profile the British starchitect Norman Foster with a blend of curiosity and reverence. It seems unfortunate that both events take place at the same time. If they were staggered, one could make an evening of it.
On October 18, the AIA's Committee on the Environment hosts the latest Pecha Kucha night (CFA, 403 NW 11th, free), in which participants show up to 20 slides each in no more than 20 second increments, with the topic of what sustainability means to design professionals, community members, educators, artists, and members of the community (Center For Architecture, free). The Bosco-Milligan Foundation's 17th annual "Riches of a City" auction is scheduled for Saturday, October 20 (Melody Ballroom, 615 Southeast Alder, $75-100).
The highlight of any Architecture + Design Fest is the annual AIA Design Awards, which this year are scheduled for Friday, October 26 at The Plant (935 SE Alder, $50). This year the event is actually called "DesignmiX" and features a series of sculptural objects (or "follies") on display created by designers and architects. The "DesignmiX" is preceded by An Evening With the Jury on Thursday, October 25 (CFA, 403 NW 11th, $5), in which the Design Awards jurors (from New York, Los Angeles and Baton Rouge) discuss their impressions of Portland.
There are even more events happening during the A+D Fest than I've listed here. Check out the event website for more details - and then go out and get inspired.