BY BRIAN LIBBY
Recent months have seen Portland firms take home a number of awards, from projects to the work of individual architects. As we dive into the fall arts season, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the acknowledgements.
Holst Architecture, for example, has received the Project of the Year award from Residential Architect magazine’s 2013 Design Awards for the Bud Clark Commons. Featuring 130 studio apartments for residents who have been experiencing homelessness, the project beat out a host of swanky houses. Think of it: people not long ago living on park benches and under bridges now occupying space that’s won a design award over mansions.
“I just assumed we were going to pick a house or an apartment that showed the expertise of the architect and their use of the best materials in creating the best spaces,” juror Brian Messana said. “But this project to me encapsulates all of that.”
“Good design should be available to everybody,” fellow juror EB Min added. “That’s one of the tenets of modernism. I think this project really addresses that. When we’re talking about residential architecture, everyone just jumps to think about single-family homes. But this is a residence as well. And beyond the social program, the design itself is lovely. As a piece of architecture in Portland, it functions beautifully. It’s a great addition to the cityscape as well.”
“We chose to offer this as an example to everyone: that you can achieve something for a relatively mundane, straightforward project that usually is not treated very well,” concurred juror Robert M. Cain. “It goes beyond.”
Meanwhile, Portland’s THA Architecture is the recipient of the 2013 Region Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects’ Northwest and Pacific Region.
“Two interrelated qualities stand out about THA Architecture. The first is the breadth of consistency they achieve from concept to detail and the beautiful work that results. Second, is the quality and focus of the firm’s culture and the way it infuses itself into every aspect of the firm’s highly evolved practice.”
The award may denote a generational arrival for THA. Once known as Thomas Hacker Architects, the firm has moved beyond the shadow of its talented founder, Hacker, who studied under Louis Kahn and who, as a University of Oregon professor, influenced a number of acclaimed architects like Brad Cloepfil and Rick Potestio. Now, however, THA principals like David Keltner, Becca Cavell and more recent addition Corey Martin are playing leading roles. The firm continues to make public buildings such as museums and higher education facilities its bread and butter, but is also moving further into condos, apartments and other residential projects.
Recent THA projects, for example, include the Hallie Ford Center at Oregon State University in Corvallis and the Bayview Library in San Francisco, with a number of others under construction: the State of Alaska Library Archives Museum in Juneau, 3339 SE Division (an apartment building) in Portland, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon in Bend.
THA also received another honor recently, as did two other Portland firms.
The September issue of Architect magazine includes its annual list of America's top 50 architecture firms. THA came in at #8, while SRG Partnership came in at #22 and ZGF at #24. Last year, ZGF was the top-listed Portland firm on this list (and the only one), at #10. This year, SRG also came in at #10 on Architect's alternate listing of the top 50 sustainable design firms, with THA at #11 and ZGF at #35.
YGH Architecture also was honored recently. Architect Lona Rerick, who directs the firm’s sustainability efforts, received 2013 BetterBricks Award in the Building Design category. The award recognizes her leadership in the Pacific Northwest’s green building community and her many accomplishments in sustainable design during her more than 10-year career with YGH. While at the firm, she has led or played a significant role in the sustainability strategies for numerous projects, many of which earned LEED Gold or Earth Advantage Gold certification and have realized energy consumption rates ranging from 30 to 45 percent below current code requirements.
Rerick is a former chair of the AIA Portland, Oregon Chapter’s Committee on the Environment and has served as the head of YGH’s Sustainability Committee since 2002, helping lead the firm through The Natural Step planning process. Additionally, she is instrumental in coordinating YGH’s efforts to meet the AIA 2030 Commitment, which sets guidelines that move buildings to carbon neutrality by the year 2030. She also currently sits on the National Sustainable Design Leaders Group, an elite selection of nationally recognized green champions.
Architecture students from the University of Oregon also recently won first place in the "Timber in the City: Urban Habitats" contest, an international competition of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.
Called upon to design a mixed-use facility for a site in Brooklyn, New York, a team that included UO architecture undergraduates Benjamin Bye, Alex Kenton and Jason Rood used cross-laminated timber as a new building technology to create a cost-effective, environmentally friendly solution for creating livable and recreational areas that support a wide range of daily activities for residents. The UO students’ work was chosen from 1,000 entries.