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Before hand, be sure to stop by and see David Orr speak at U of O's White Stag:



Did anyone attend the presentations last night? Would love to hear your impressions...

John Jennings

Last night after sitting though all the presentations by the four finalists for the Sustainability Center of Excellence to be located in downtown Portland, I asked myself which team would I choose. Although there were world class leaders in sustainable design on the teams and enough images of really dramatic and substantial buildings that purportedly come close to meeting the ambitious Living Building goals, I came away thinking a recombination of some of the team members might be best. Pick the best of each specialty from each team and mix them back into a super team. Too bad we can't do that. But what makes a good team anyway? What kind of team can assure successful delivery of this highly ambitious innovative project that aims for zero carbon emissions, no off-site energy resources consumed, zero waste, all water use from captured or reused water from the site, with no wastewater discharge, a healthy interior environment, and at the same time beautiful and inspiring. (See http://www.cascadiagbc.org/lbc/ for Living Building Criteria).

From our experience at BetterBricks, it will require a team with a client that sets clear and significant performance goals (done here by the project sponsors); a developer that is open to ideas, willing to take risks and innovate; an architect able to work collaboratively with lots of team members (not a visionary "starchitect"); engineers with out-of-the box thinking empowered by significant technical expertise; and a sustainability consultant with a holistic view (not just a list checker). In fact, all team members need to be well versed in ecosystem thinking (ecology, systems dynamics, regeneration, balance, biomimicry, biophilia, etc.). The whole team must be open to community input. And to ensure effective integrated design, the team has to be able to easily and quickly communicate on a regular basis.

John Jennings
Market Manager, BetterBricks
Design & Construction
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance


The project may not need a star architect, but it will need to be iconic, a task (one of many) left to a gifted architectural visionary. If this project fails to create Architecture with a capital A - then a wonderful opportunity for this city will have slipped us by. If the community is creating a building that functions unlike any other building in the city in terms of sustainability or regeneration then this building will look and function unlike any other building in Portland. To make those new elements 'sing' will indeed require a gifted architect. Although I see many good architects on this list, judging by the lack of response on this site to the teams presented, I'm guessing the architecture community is maybe a little (not completely) disappointed by the teams that were shortlisted for this project.


I was ecstatic upon learning that Behnisch had made the shortlist...they'd be the ideal designers for such an prominent and important Portland building.

I've been checking the comments section frequently to see if anyone had made it to the interviews...Brian? Anyone???


I am quite happy with who made the list, but I am holding my opinion until I see what they are really proposing. I have a feeling most people are doing that as well.

[name removed - spam]

it looks huge and amazing, and the partnership with SERA AND GBD is the smartest way of get to the top!!!

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