UO Hatfield-Dowlin Complex (photo by Wolfram Burner)
BY BRIAN LIBBY
Last Friday's annual AIA/Portland Design Awards saw two projects in the Willamette Valley win the evening's top prize, the Honor Award: Allied Works Architecture's Sokol Blosser Winery Tasting Room near Dayton in rural Yamhill County, and ZGF's Hatfield-Dowlin Complex for the University of Oregon, outside Autzen Stadium in Eugene.
These are two firms very familiar with AIA/Portland Design Awards, including the Honor Award. Familiar too are some of the night's other winning firms, such as Skylab Architecture, THA Architecture, Hennebery Eddy, Lever Architecture, and Opsis Architecture. There are many excellent firms in this city, some of which don't have a closet ful of awards. But the consistency with which these firms win year after year is no coincidence.
Allied's 5,000 square foot Sokol Blosser Winery Tasting Room opened this summer, and it represents the growth of Oregon's wine industry. Sokol Blosser, one of the region's pioneering wineries, had relied on the same basic tasting room since the early 1970s, and visitors would often drive up, see it was already overflowing, and turn around. Allied's task was to create a bigger space, yet not to tower over the beautiful rolling hills with some faux-Mediterranean monstrosity, like many big wineries do. “We wanted to make it look like it just grew up out of the earth,” Alison Sokol-Blosser told Portland Monthly's Sam Coggeshall earlier this year.
The design is comprised of numerous cedar-clad interior spaces carved into the hillside. “It’s this crazy labyrinth,” Cloepfil told Coggeshall. “It’s the valley’s first piece of contemporary architecture that really responds to where it is—to landscape, earth, and light.” Along the way, Sokol Blosser gives Cloepfil an addition to his portfolio of Oregon projects. Allied first gained acclaim with the Wieden + Kennedy building in the Pearl District in 2000, quickly followed by the 2281 Glisan Building. But since then much of the firm's work has been out of town. Paired with Allied's under-construction rehabilitation of the historic 511 Broadway building for PNCA (as well as a collection of houses and work for Catlin Gable school), Sokol Blosser helps give the top Portland architect of his generation more of a local footing.
Sokol Blosser Winery Tasting Room (photos by Jeff Jahn, PORT)
Although Sokol Blosser may not be Allied's most prominent project given its portfolio includes major art museums in Seattle, New York and Dallas, there may not be another building that better represents Cloepfil's signature talent for envisioning buildings situated seamlessly within the Oregon landscape, poised to receive a bounty of light.
ZGF's Honor Award for the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex at UO is another confirmation of the architectural partnership between the university, Nike, and a design team led by Gene Sandoval (with interiors by Firm 151). This architect-client combination already had been responsible for the magnificent Jacqua Center at the University of Oregon, which previously won an AIA/Portland Honor Award. Sitting beside Autzen Stadium, Hatfield-Dowlin feels like Rotterdam on the Willamette: a series of crisp interlocking rectangular volumes that poetically blend metal, glass and black granite. Nike and co-founder Phil Knight's multi-million-dollar benefaction meant that this project had an uncommonly high budget, but budgets alone do not make first-rate architecture. From the elegance of the materials to the way light moves in and out of the space to an exceptionally clever array of graphics, art and multimedia, Hatfield-Dowlin is greater than the sum of its meticulous parts.
The next tier of awards, known as the Merit Award, went to two projects: the Colonel Nesmith Readiness Center in Dallas, Oregon by THA Architecture, and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services' Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant Engineering Building, by Skylab Architecture in collaboration with Solarc.
The Colonel James Nesmith Readiness Center provides training facilities, recruiting, administrative and family support spaces for the Oregon Army National Guard. THA's design, targeted for LEED Gold and also received a Design-Build Institute of America national design award, is situated around its main assembly hall, which filters daylight from skylights through a wood framework reminiscent of the wooden barns common to this rural area, yet with a more highly ordered geometry. This is the latest in a long line of restrained yet elegant THA public building projects, a firm specialty. The firm previously known as Thomas Hacker Architects is showing that, even as its namesake founder increasingly hands the reigns to a new generation, the quality remains just as high.
The CBWTP Engineering Building provides offices and support spaces for Bureau of Environmental Services staff. "Oriented radially along the path of the sun, the building will feature a rooftop that folds up and down," says Architizer. "As the seven separate folds of the roof tilt, in sawtooth rhythm, clerestory windows fill the void created by the upward fold, responding to the movement of natural light and airflow. The downward fold drains the landscaped roof runoff into a berm on the south facade and bioswales return the stormwater to the Columbia Slough. The folded roof combined with a north-oriented, louvered and operable glass facade, will allow daylight and natural ventilation to fill the interior during working hours and make possible night flush cooling. The building's hydronic system will connect to the plant water flow, efficiently heating and cooling. The entrance to the plant will be modified to provide a native and adaptive environment, creating a public space in front of the building with views to an existing pond. A newly landscaped commons area will be accessible to the plant staff as well as for educational tours of plant operations for the public. A circular open space in the center will feature landscaping and interpretive features demonstrating water treatment strategies."
The next tier of award went to two built and two unbuilt projects. In the unbuilt category, Lever Architecture won for ArtHouse, the new dormitory for the Pacific Northwest College of Art located on the North Park Blocks. With natural light filtering into its deepest interiors and a bold undulating metal facade, ArtHouse helps mark Lever's arrival as one of the city's most talented firms. The firm previously won an AIA Honor Award for its work in Southern California for some major Hollywood studios, but ArtHouse, arriving within months of the Union Way project (which also was honored this year by the AIA), showed that Lever founder Thomas Robinson's talents reflect his time at two of the world's best firms: Allied Works and Herzog & DeMeuron.
The other built Citation Award went to the Cascades Academy of Central Oregon in Bend by Hennebery Eddy. Besides winning a slough of past design awards, the firm has made highly sustainable college and university projects its bread and butter, be it the net-zero Portland Community College facility in Newberg, Oregon or this new project. Hennebery Eddy's architecture also feels somehow quintessentially Northwest, teeming with wood and light.
Hennebery Eddy also won a Citation Award this year for the unbuilt Fire Station 76 in Gresham, a series of simple rectangular and triangular volumes that alternate transparency and solidity while showing off the firm's experience with fire stations. Every time I drive down Sandy Boulevard in Portland, I smile at the firm's design for Fire Station 28, which combined a historic existing building with an entirely modern wing next door - the two buildings are surprisingly congruent, an exercise in interweaving old and new architecture.
THA Architecture's design for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon made the firm a repeat winner on Friday night with its unbuilt Citation Award. Although the building's form is boxy, its glass curtain wall makes for not only a compelling display of visual kinetics but also is a nod to traditional eclesiastical stained glass. Corey Martin, formerly of PATH Architecture, led this design, reflecting his imprint on the firm.
This year the Bend area was well represented in the AIA Design Awards, including a Craftsmanship Award for the Central Oregon Community College Science Building by YGH Architecture and Bend firm Pinnacle Architecture.
The Sustainability Award went to another THA project, the Bayview Branch Library in San Francisco, which the firm designed in partnership with SF firm Karin Payson Architecture + Design.
A Special Award for Adaptive Reuse went to the Galleria building rehabilitation into a City Target, by Portland's FFA Architecture and Interiors in tandem with Alameda, California's MBH Architects. The design completely eradicated any last semblance of the old Galleria building interior, which is disappointing to those of us who grew up going to the building's atrium of small shops, but it's an urbanistic triumph, maintaining the integrity of the historic Galleria exterior while exemplifying a new model of urban Target stores.
Two projects won the People's Choice Award. First place went to Opsis Architecture's design of the Reed College Performing Arts Building, which expertly balances contemporary lines with consideration of the school's early 20th century campus buildings. Second place went to Union Way, the Lever Architecture-designed shopping alley in Portland's West End.
If there's one project I think got shortchanged from the AIA jury, it's this one. It may only have created a series of storefronts fronting a new urban alley, but both the program and the execution are exemplary.
Luckily, Union Way also won the Mayor's Award for Design Excellence. "The team for that project took two nondescript buildings that most of us have never noticed and, by cutting an alley through them, transformed them into a place of interest and delight," Mayor Charlie Hales commented. "Like the sculptor that sees a statue inside a block of stone, the Union Way team saw a great place just waiting to be uncovered. They have created something that is beautiful to look at. They have created something that is a delight to experience. And they have created something that can help all of look at our urban fabric in a different way. That is truly great design."