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Kenny B

Maybe an agreement that if the Rosefriend was saved, the codes could be changed to allow a 35 story building that would be a signature residencial highrise and attract major players to that area. If I remember right, a 400' structure in that area would not block the sun. Times change, every old building isn't some kind of historic shrine. But if the Rosefriend is that important, then giving the developer something in return sounds fair to me.

MitchE

While I'm not a fan of demolishing the Rosefriend, I have to say I think the Downtown Neighborhood Association is wrong about the height restriction. If you look in the city code section 33.510.205 and on Map 510-3 it clearly delineates a maximum building height of 300 feet for this location (SW Jefferson between Broadway and Park). Maybe they aren't looking closely enough at the map because just one block south on the other side of Columbia St. the maximum building heights are 100 feet.

The only thing I can think of that might restrict the height to 100 feet is the FAR. The FAR at that location is 6:1. For people not familiar with FAR, it means the floor area can only be 6 times the total lot size (or six stores if the building will take up the entire lot area. Since the church is only building on about half the block I'm assuming they are transferring the FAR not used by the church and carriage house to the new tower. This would allow the building to "about" double its height to (+/-) 12 stories. It seems plausible this could equate to 200 feet.

For those interested in looking at the map and related code, you can download the document at the link below. The map is on page 132.

http://www.portlandonline.com/
auditor/index.cfm?a=53363&c=28197

Eric L

Brian,
Have you actually been inside the Rosefriend Apartments? I came accross your site because my buddy used to live there and the place is a complete dump. Yes, it looks nice on the outside for sure but the interior has been remodeled -- badly -- a couple of times probably last in the 60s and for the building to be viable it would need to be completely gutted. My guess that right now it is a fire hazard and who knows if it would just fall over in an earthquake? And, as they say, no way that would pencil to fix for the Church who have owned the building.

ws

Great research Mitch E! The implications of it leave me feeling overwhelmed. I hadn’t really been able to visualize the scale of the proposed Ladd Tower in relation to surrounding buildings and the park, until tonight, when I finally took a look at the full size picture, posted in a small version the top of this article, and on the Opusnw.com website.

This building looms huge over the park. I’m sorry, but I find myself at a loss to understand why anyone, even when its their property, and codes allow it, would elect to mount such a massive building directly facing the Park Blocks until absolutely necessary, and until every other available option has been exhausted. This consideration has to do with more than the church, the carriage house, or the Rosefriend. It has to do with the look and the livability of the city in the future, for everyone who spends any time here.

The Park Blocks do not have either the breadth of Central Park, or a big wide street that would put the Ladd Tower in balance with them. It will block the sun and sky dramatically, and the upcoming Moyer tower will compound this effect.

I hope everybody together can help the church see merit in slowing down the program just a little bit to perhaps take a longer look at examining options that would secure them the parking and new church facilities they need and have a right to pursue.

This idea of pencil-ing out rides on very limited criteria. No figures have been presented to demonstrate that a Ladd Rosefriend Tower wouldn’t work. No figures have been offered to show what might be possible if the church were presented with help from the city or elsewhere.

The Rosefriend will not continue on its present configuration, period. It’s life can and should be sustained, either as housing, museum space, office, retail, or another use. It should be completely gutted, seismically upgraded, with a garden roof, that tower occupants could look down upon ala the Rockefeller Tower gardens.

I’m sorry if I’m a little emotional about this sort of thing. I have seen too much thoughtless, regrettable destruction in my lifetime. If the church ulitmately must take down the Rosefriend, perhaps they can at least find some way to lower the height of the tower or reduce its impact on the park.

val

I don't know the regulations, but couldn't the church possibly sell its "air rights" or a part thereof to another developer in the area? This would make them some money and then they could still build something smaller as Brian has suggested?

Just a thought.

dfriedman

Kenny B writes: "Since the church is only building on about half the block I'm assuming they are transferring the FAR not used by the church and carriage house to the new tower."

I've been looking at the Code, but I have to admit I'm new at this and there may be something I haven't fully understood.

That being said, it appears to me that such a transfer of FAR is prohibited on the Park Blocks. The relevant section is Chapter 33.120.205.E.5.2 which says: "Transfer of density or FAR to sites on the Park Block frontages shown on Map 510-13 are prohibited." (There is no dispute that the referenced map covers the Ladd Tower block.)

This language would seem to be clear and specific and would appear to limit the RZ-zoned lots on the Park Blocks to an FAR of 4:1 as shown in Table 120-3 (or possibly 6:1 since this is evidently something called an "overlay" zone). The developer is arguing that this provision should be superseded by other provisions in various parts of the code and in the Central City Plan, but I've been told that the most concrete and specific provisions are the ones that generally prevail--and the above-mentioned provision would seem to be about as specific as could be. In order to get transfers of density up to the needed 10.66:1 --in seeming contradiction to the 33.120.205.E.5.2 provision-- the developers have submitted an entirely separate request to be acted on by the Design Commission at a later time. It is Case LU 6-143942 MS (hearing not scheduled yet). This is where there seems to be a lot of fancy footwork that someone who really understands zoning could blow the whistle on.

If I've misunderstood, I'd like very much to be corrected. It would be great if Kenny B and others --who, unlike me, actually know something about zoning-- would get involved and possibly even testify on Wednesday.

PortlandArchitecture

FYI: This was forwarded to me. Its from Steve Poland, the architect on the Rose Friends and was sent to the Friends of Ladd Carriage House e-mail list. I don't think he's exercising much restraint (as he states at the end of his e-mail) and someone certainly needs to school him in how blogs work as a social network (um, hint: its not journalism)....he comes across as extremly unprofessional. Steve, take a deep breath and calm down...you are making things worse. Frankly Steve, blog dialogue is a healthy and open form of community engagement. If you have a beef with this blog then you should have posted a comment here, not sent out a passive aggressive e-mail to a small select group that have not been part of the discussion on this blog.

"Friends:

Please excuse my use of this e-mail address list, but we feel folks should be aware of an apparent campaign by Mr. Brian Libby, a self styled local architectural critic. I personally have always felt that the carefully thought through critique and discussions in such venues as the annual AIA Design Awards presentations are inspiring, uplifting, and renewing. It is important that we in the design community are open to hearing what the larger public feels about our work.

I don’t personally however seek out the blog world discussions, and have worked to avoid reacting to repeated inputs from those who do, along the lines of “you should read what Brian Libby is saying, it’s unbelievably nasty and negative”. Mr. Libby and everyone else are welcome to their opinions of course and I don’t begrudge thoughtful criticism or differing opinions.

At the point where critical opinion becomes uninformed character assassination of a large group of folks who have invested huge amounts of time and energy to develop a collaborative and constructive solution to a very difficult problem it is reasonable to express a counter opinion.

Please go to Mr. Libby’s blog, and read the series of pieces he has written regarding the Rosefriend apartment building: http://www.portlandarchitecture.com/

As you read this you will see as I did that Mr. Libby’s diatribes are thoroughly laced with mis-statements, mis-attribution, false statements about the zoning code, and fanciful prognostications about what the First Christian Church could do to resolve their programmatic needs. You may come to a different conclusion, but mine was that this supposed “journalist” has written most of these articles before doing any research. He clearly has never looked in the zoning code. His wisdom has apparently led him to elevate the Rosefriend’s importance above that of the Carriage House, and the Church’s programmatic requirements. I almost think I am more embarrassed for the journalistic community than I am upset for the disrespect he very flippantly heaps on the efforts of the church, the Friends of Ladd Carriage House, Mr. Carroll, OPUS NW, Rejuvenation, and the Rebuilding Center to study every reasonable alternative to save the viability of the historic Church, the historic listed Ladd Carriage House, and many of the truly wonderful aesthetic elements of the Rosefriend itself. I am embarrassed too for the AIA, of which I am a member, that his website boasts sponsorship from our group.

Mr. Libby has repeatedly made it clear that he disdains any work from Ankrom Moisan on behalf of our clients and I have refrained from responding, as he is welcome to his opinion. Now that he is casting his net to ensnare this amazingly collaborative solution to the needs of the First Christian Church and the heroic efforts by all to breath new life into the Carriage House, I feel it is only reasonable to shine a bright light on it for you all to be aware and draw your own conclusions.

I encourage any of you to attend the July 20, 1:30pm Design Review hearing, and if so moved, to express your hopefully more rational thoughts on either side of the issue.

Exercising great restraint,

Steve Poland

Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects"

Brian Libby

An open letter to Steve Poland and Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects:

Steve, I'm very sorry to read that my comments have been perceived as "nasty and negative", particularly toward your firm.

Let me put this in the simplest terms I can: With respect to the Ladd Tower project, it is the planned demolition of the historic Rosefriend Apartments that I have been critical of. For the most part, I have reserved comment on the Ladd Tower design itself and have only referred to it in its relation to the Rosefriend.

If I have engaged in "mis-statements, mis-attribution, false statements about the zoning code" as you suggest, I am as eager as anyone to have the record set straight. What are the facts?

You also said it's "clear that he disdains any work from Ankrom Moisan". This I disagree with. While it's true that there are particular past projects I haven't been a big fan of visually, I respect the fact that Ankrom is trusted by many developers to deliver condos affordably and that go on to great popularity. Moreover, I believe the firm's work has evolved significantly in terms of overall design acumen. I especially like the Vaux project in Northwest Portland, and some of the new work being done in Los Angeles.

The mission of the Portland Architecture blog is to stimulate a conversation about design, planning, and construction in the city. It often starts out with my opinion, and I feel I've gone out of my way to communicate that I'm not an architect and do not think of my opinions as gospel.

Finally, getting back to the Ladd Tower project, I also want to commend all those involved for saving the Ladd Carriage House, which is a very wonderful thing for Portland. In fact, this preservation effort has served as an inspiration as I and others endeavor to see the historic Rosefriend building saved.

In talking about the Rosefriend, it has always been my hope that a solution could be found that satisfies everyone. Admittedly my suggestions have been very speculative -- thinking out loud, really. But it was only done in hopes of us all finding a way for the Rosefriend to be saved, the First Christian Church to get the parking, financial stability and new spaces it needs, and the developers and architects to build something new.

I hope the bile in your message can ultimately give way to a healthy dialogue.


Larry

After read Mr. Poland's comments, I went back and read Brian's previous posts about the Rosefriend. I gotta say, I'm just not seeing the supposed diatribe Poland accuses Brian of. In every post, he talks about any solution needing to suit everybody, inluding Ankrom Moisan, the developers and the church. Sure, maybe Brian's ideas for the Rosefriend wouldn't actually work in practice. But Poland is digging his own grave. Keep it up Brian!

VS

I agree with Larry. As to the Ladd Carriage House, Brian calls it a "local treasure" and says, "That it’s going to stay put and be restored after being threatened is great news."

Why has Mr. Poland "refrained from responding"? This is a blog, not an op-ed column. It's a community, in which readers have the opportunity to share their insight and opinions over the issues that Brian raises. Perhaps if Mr. Poland had not refrained from responding, he could have educated Brian, and Portland Architecture's readers, in an open and honest fashion, rather than with this polemic.

MitchE

dfriedman,

Good work on your code research. I'd like to say upfront that I would not consider myself an expert in zoning. As crazy as it sounds it's more of a personal interest.

With the exception of the transfer of FAR, the Central City Plan chapter 33.510 trumps any site regulated FAR ratio or maximum building height found in the 33.120 Multi-Dwelling Residential Zones chapter you are referring to. This is stated in Table 120-3 Note [1]. So basically the maximum building height is 300 feet and the FAR is 6:1 as stated in the Central City Plan.

What gets tricky about the FAR transfer in 33.120.205.E.5.2 is the definition of "site". The statement says "Transfer of density or FAR "to sites" on the Park Block frontages shown on Map 510-13 are prohibited." This would imply that a transfer is prohibited if the FAR is not already available on the same site. Since the church owns all the lots this by definition is all the same "site" ("site" is defined in 33.910.030) and essentially there is no transfer taking place. Therefore in my amateur opinion, the section prohibiting FAR transfer does not apply here.

I also would like to be corrected if this interpretation is not correct.

My main concern with the demolition of the Rosefried is that we are losing a part of our cities historic architecture and that all other options short of demolition were not explored. Are there no other options that can meet the needs of the church? Is the church even open to alternative options? If they were explored already and there are absolutely no other options, than in the interest of moving things along I suggest those investigations be shared with the public so we can begin to understand the constraints and issues better.

And I'm sorry for thinking so but giving historic doorknobs and moldings to the Rebuilding Center does not excuse the fact we are destroying our history... mostly for parking. This action, while good and probably economical too, will not address the communities concern. Once this building is gone, it is gone. No amount of historic elements at the Rebuilding Center will replace it.

And for the record I am not opposed to any new development on the park blocks or the design of this building. I do have concerns about the amount of shade new buildings will cast on the park blocks but if the code already allows this, than my concern is with the code, not with the development.

architectureportlandfan

I find it intersting that a private email was posted here on a public forum without permission from the author (in this case, Mr. Poland). Regardless of whether you agree or not, with the content of his message, that email was meant for intended recipients yet someone dirsregarded that and felt self served enough to post it publicly.

Somewhat disrespectful, and self serving no? IMO, far more so than the email itself might have been.

Kevin Sauser

As he states, Steve does not seek out the discussions contained in blogs. Also, I am not responding for Steve. This is my own personal response.

If you know Steve you know that he is one of the most patient, understanding, understated people around.

He obviously feels very strongly about his project and is clearly trying to decide on the best way to defend himself, his client and the firm. Maybe his letter wasn't the best response to a blog comment. But he may have felt that it was his only outlet.

If you want to engage in a discussion regarding this topic with Steve you are probably best served by showing up in person and talking to him face to face.

Another thing, Ankrom Moisan is a large firm. We have over 200 people here and as many different opinions about any given subject. It is our goal to determine the optimum solution for any give design problem, which responds to the Client, the City Staff and the Community's needs. In the end, hopefully we leave our built environment better then it began. Everybody will occasionally make a compromise in order to fulfill a greater good. Hopefully the compromises made are the right ones.

We will always welcome an open and healthy discussion.

Kevin Sauser
Ankrom Moisan Architects

MarkDaMan

"I find it intersting that a private email was posted here on a public forum without permission from the author (in this case, Mr. Poland)."

There is no such thing as a 'private e-mail.' You send stuff through cyber-space, there is a chance it will be picked up. Company memos, government communications etc.etc. all seems to find it's way into the blogosphere. There is nothing self-serving about it. This is what blogging is. When I copy a story on various blogs from the Portland Tribune for people to comment, sometimes critically, I'm not violating a private news story. Welcome to the 21st century. If you don't like it, unplug you computer from the internet.

After reading Mr. Polands e-mail from Ankrom Moisan I am now inclined to show up at next meeting and fight for the Rosefriend myself. I always thought, give the developer/architect/church the benefit of the doubt, but after his comments and mischaracterizing Brian's blog in a rather rude manner, I'd rather not see this project go forward now.

Brian

This is a difficult question. When I first saw the email after it was posted in the comments section, I responed to it just like any other comment. And to be honest, I was focused on defending myself, because I still find the text of it disappointing.

But I also empathize with people who think it's unfair to Steve Poland that his email went public without his doing. This afternoon I've considered removing both the comment with his email as well as my original response (just to keep it even). But the couple of time's I've deleted comments in the past, a lot of readers have complained.

Besides, I think it's good to get these things out in the open.

If Mr. Poland or other people involved with the project are mad, then I say let's resolve things and move on to the more important question of how the community can collaborate on a solution to this issue. So maybe saving the Rosefriend and building a quarter-block tower instead of a half-block one doesn't pencil out. Then those of us who want to preserve the Rosefriend should try and brainstorm new ideas. What if the AIA, or the Architectural Foundation of Oregon, or the Meyer Memorial Trust were to get involved? How about the Oregon Cultural Trust? I don't blame the church or its partners for wanting to address the church's needs with a building project. More power to you! I just don't want to see a great old building be victimized in the process. But I'd rather work with the people involved than against them. Can those on the other side meet half way?

architectureportlandfan

MarkDaMan wrote:

"There is no such thing as a 'private e-mail.' You send stuff through cyber-space, there is a chance it will be picked up."

That doesn't make it fair, appropriate or right thing to do. Just because you can, does not give you the justification to do whatever you feel like.

Including posting it to a public forum for consumption.

Rationalizing this behavior with the poorly thought our response...

"Welcome to the 21st century" will go only as far as the day that your own privacy in a sensitive matter, is violated.

Your comparison to posting article content that has been already published is completely useless. it's not apples and oranges, it's apples and car batteries.

Had Mr. Poland posted this in a true web based forum it would be different, but that's not the case.

He apparently sent the email to a group of individuals, and if the text of the email is copied wholly, nowhere did it state

"Go ahead and post this email text to a public architecture forum to talk about".

It's too late now to undo what is done, even if Brian decides to do the right thing, and remove it.

But leaving it as posted, certainly doesn't justify the means to that end. It only inappropriately validates the privacy violating behavior people seem to disregard, just because of the content revealed highights Mr. Poland's frustration with the situation, and his rather unfortunate method of dealing with it.

ws

Why that’s very gracious of you Mr. Libby! (regarding angst over the propriety of posting the text of Steve Poland’s email to Friends of The Carriage House on portlandarchitecture) It’s also the right attitude by which to foster and encourage a spirit of co-operation that may arrive at a better approach to addressing the concerns posed by the development of this block.

All those organizations you mentioned; the AIA, the Architectural Foundation of Oregon, or the Meyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Cultural Trust, are probably good potential resources, though I like, no doubt many others, don’t know much about them, or feel able to talk to them about the issue.

Steve Poland, while he may be a distinguished executive of an important architectural firm, didn’t send out a private letter that was handwritten, typed, and mailed with a stamp. He didn’t even send out a person to person e-mail. He sent out a mass mailing to a historical preservation organization, whose concern over the fate of The Carriage House, his firm has accommodated by the design of a tower that allows that building to live on. The implication is, that by doing so, he could call in their support and also have them withdraw any support they might be inclined to offer, to those offering alternative ideas for development of the block, expressed here on portlandarchitecture.com.

He sent out this mass mailing because, as he more or less says in his e-mail, he doesn’t accord much respect to the kind of exchange of ideas that occur in a weblog. This is exactly the kind of attitude that causes many people to resent and mistrust those in high places. Weblogs, in many cases have sprung up precisely because joe-schmo is often not given so much as a how-de-do by such people.

His associate, Kevin Sauser, admonishes Brian Libby to come to the office and speak to Steve Poland personally if he has an issue he’d like to discuss with him. Well, that’s fine, but what about the rest of the teeming masses? Do you really think Steve Poland, Kevin Sauser, or anybody from Ankrom Moisan will be enthusiastically waiting to receive us, to hear, and take seriously, our ideas and concerns for the development of that block?

The fact is Mr. Poland, speaking for myself and speculating about others on this weblog, we’re not all uneducated, uncivilized, intemperate hicks from the sticks. We may not have much money or influence, but we keep our eyes and ears open, and every once in awhile, we can come up with a good idea or two. Some of us have a lot our lives invested in the area, the city, and its future, to which we feel obliged to offer whatever modest commodity we can, even if it’s merely a conscientiously stated opinion devoid of complete familiarity with the city’s tax codes.

You’d be ahead of the game if you’d just put your ear to the ground and listen carefully to what people outside the office are saying.

Finally, it’s time to let this little tempest pass, and get back to the business of working amicably towards ensuring that the wisest and most responsible arrangements will be made for the development of the block hosting the First Christian Church, The Carriage House and The Rosefriend Apartment Bldg.

michael conroy

I have to admit that I'm biased in favor of saving the Rosefriend but I would prefer an open dialogue between the church, the architects and concerned citizens both critical and open to new development. Many historic treasures have been lost in this town not because people didn't care but because they were not aware. I applaud Brian and his blog for creating a diologue between people even if it doesn't seem rational at times. Though buildings make up the fabric of this city, it's the people that shape it. People should get involved and decide how Portland is shaped. If you don't like something, speak up. If you want to save something, talk about it. Say something. Knowledge is power.

MarkDaMan

given you reasoning, architectureportlandfan, we wouldn't know, sometimes by a forwarded e-mail, about the secret prisons our CIA operates, that they are listening to our phone conversation without warrants, researching our banking info...etc.etc. Because, as you state, 'Just because you can, does not give you the justification to do whatever you feel like.'

Had Poland stuck to the facts of the development, explaining why the building couldn't be saved and why their interpretation of the zoning is correct, there wouldn't have been controversy over his comments, and he could probably have enlightened many minds here as to what has been done to try and save if not the Rosefriend itself, the many charateristics of the building. Poland should have thought about the ramifications of typing a personal attack on Brian, his 'journalistic' standards, his disdain for anything, in the case it might become public...which it did.

architectureportlandfan

Mark Da Man - We'll have to agree to disagree. I fail to see how you can viably connect supposed emails related to operations of "secret prisons operated by the US government funded Central Intelligence Agency" ...

...to an email regarding an architect's personal plea on behalf of a private entity like a Portland church that apparently wants to divorce itself from an old building that it owns.

Not buying the comparison. But that's me. YMMV.
------------------------
As I understand it, the church has subsequently approached a multitude of developers over a period of years to figure out a way to construct more parking for the congregation. For example, I've seen the Boora scheme for the block and it did not save the Carraige House OR the Rosefreind.

This is a case of a Church serving as a catalyst to privately design and build a financially viable R and CX zoned project on top of that parking desired by the church, while going through great pains and expense to save a historic building like the Ladd Carraige house.

It's clear Mr. Poland was frustrated with what he feels is innacurate and incomplete information, mixed with personal opinion, being moved around and accepted as enough to base judgement. It is also pretty clear based on that email, that he has a hard time respecting a blog as a scource of accurate info, due to a lack of accountability for errors, on the part of bloggers like Brian Libby. He seems to not be familiar with the blog culture and thats his personal postition. I too beleive that blogs operate in a certain sort of "accountability vacuum". They do not have anwhere near the accountability that one does in print, TV or radio communications. I still utilize them, but I take them for what they really are. An essentially unchecked discussion forum. A place for people to say whatever they want. However, based on an article I read in the Portland Tribune this morning, by someone who posted earlier in this thread... It's clear that the people who frequent this blog have more say than just an internet discussion, and it seems that there should be a responsibility to separate fact from opinion in a blog and clearly note it as such either way. Brian I'm sure knows that, as he also writes for the print media in Portland. But as you said, it's the 21st century and blogs are now a part of the current culture of communication.

In the end I guess it really doesn't matter what Opus and Caroll as developers think regarding this, or Mr. Poland at Ankrom Moisan as the hired architect(s) think. It's the church that is free to decide what to do with its privately owned building, that is not by the way, on the national register of historic places as far as I know.

The curch doesn't want it anymore, and it seems that saving it is not financially viable. They've clearly made saving the Ladd a priority for the developers and subsequently the architects, but it seems the Rosefreind needs to be sacrificed to do that. Tough descision, but in life we don't always get to have our cake and eat it too.

Regarding the tower being on the park, the concept doesn't bother me personally, so long as the facade presents itself in a nice way, and is pedestrian freindly. I love the park, and lived there for several years, so I know it well. If history is an indicator, Opus and Carroll will ask Ankrom Moisan to design a nice, viable, "safe", well executed if not totally inspiring design, that tries to respect the context that it sits in without trying to break all design boundaries.

Based on Carroll's commissioned work in the past, that he has asked of Ankrom Moisan before... in the Elizabeth, and the Gregory, and has asked that of GBD and Holst as well with the Edge Lofts. I suspect this one will be similar in quality and design. It will "fit in" rather than try to be an object. A contextual building, if you will. Not always my favorite, as I like to see new ideas (often ego driven), but on the other hand, in my opinon it won't disturb the status quo the way an ego driven design might.

OK, wow... that was long. :-)

Cheers. I guess we'll all see what happens after the hearing.

Kevin Sauser

A slight clarification to my posting: If you would like to be involved in the discussion of this project with Steve Poland, Aspen and the others involved please get involved with the City of Portland design review and planning hearing process.

Please don't just show up at the office asking to see Steve!

One of the reasons that this process was set up as public hearings is to allow individuals, neighborhood groups and anyone who's interested to have the opportunity to publically voice their opinions. Many times one person's voice is all it takes to encourage the developer, architect and council to look at the project in a different light.

I don't know who originally said this: "The world is run by those who show up."

Sometimes it's as simple as stating your opinion publically, whether it be a blog, public hearing or a newspaper article. You never know who will hear you and what might get done...

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