Posts tagged with "Oregon":

Placeholder Alt Text

The mythologies of Oregon’s utopian seekers still informs its design and architecture today

A few months back, while casually scrolling through some feed or another, I was struck by a series of images for a Portland-based boot company, Danner. Kicking up a faint cloud of dust with measured, deliberate steps, a lone photovoltaic maintenance worker moves across the image between parallel sets of solar trackers in a 64-acre facility in the high desert landscape just outside of Bend, Oregon. Emblazoned in bold over the image, the word “STRONGHOLD” conjured the work-boot family and the attitude of the region from which it springs. In what could pass for a Green New Deal campaign lifted from only the most heroic of WPA posters, other images from the commercial shoot evoke the photovoltaic maintenance process—a delicate operation involving technical expertise, careful stewardship, the right boots “built for comfort and stability,” and a Dodge Ram with plates reading “1932,” Danner’s date of establishment prior to relocating to Portland, where it would supply loggers with caulked boots during the Depression. From those origins spring the current slate of boot categories: work, hike, lifestyle, hunt, military, and law enforcement, producing an uneasy space where aesthetic cohesion and mythologizing coagulate in an open wound of mixed messaging between bright green and militarized versions of the future. The Danner website declares: “The Future Is Strong.”

Scenes like the above are a renewable resource in the Pacific Northwest, underwritten by a low-key utopian sense that’s as much about a “way” of doing things as it is about place. Oregon is of the American West, but not exactly the center of its mythos. In the estimation of the 1940 Federal Writers’ Project guide to the state, Oregon’s position at the “end of the trail” leveraged terminus into an exceptional charge that “inspire[d] not provincial patriotism, but affection”: “The newcomer at first may smile at the attitude of Oregonians towards their scenery and their climate. But soon he will begin to refer to Mt. Hood as ‘our mountain.’” Here, the “dismal skies” and rains of winter were merely the “annual tax” one paid for the privilege of inhabiting a state of “eternal verdure”—a cozy picture that excludes the desert land east of the Cascades mountain range and a whole host of volcanic and seismic activity lying in wait and prone to violent outbursts.

For its part, the city of Bend has recently been deemed a commuter town for Silicon Valley and is an increasingly expensive playground where brewpubs, rec centers, inner tube flotillas on the Deschutes River, and extensive parkland make their own kind of lively stronghold at the base of the Three Sisters Mountains. As in Portland just on the other side of the Cascades, there’s a rolling collision between earlier imported and newly imported visions of an affluent good life in nature that are just complementary enough to exist in tenuous détente while other narratives vie for recognition.

Upon arriving in Portland by way of a westward drive through the Columbia River Gorge, it was hard for me to escape the impression that this working landscape had been staged as an advertisement for the achievement of a kind of augmented reality just removed from the usual roiling of time. The B Reactor at Hanford, Washington, and the still-toxic ghosts of the Manhattan Project were out there somewhere, as was a Lamb Weston facility that processes 600 million pounds of frozen potato products annually, but here in this gash through the Cascades was a vision of forward movement in balance. Flanked by wind turbines running along the hill crests and with Hood’s emblematic peak directly ahead, rail and moss-lined roadways delivered a parade of works and features, from dams, locks, and spillways to waterfalls and elevated viewpoints. Some of these projects, like the Bonneville Dam, have been held up as pivotal but imperfect New Deal–era models of public hydropower administration, while The Dalles Dam is known more for its erasure of Celilo Falls, once a critical center of indigenous cultural and economic life. Such erasure and fragmentation, however, are far from the exception, as white nationalists have also long found refuge in Cascadia’s crevices and realty boards since the state’s founding in black exclusion. Here, too, the American Redoubt and various Cascadian secession movements pick up where Ernest Callenbach’s more countercultural 1975 novel Ecotopia left off with utopian search/seeking, be it for an ecotopia or a white nationalist stronghold.

As a perverse addendum to the theme of exclusion, however, Oregon’s urban growth boundaries have made for a compelling regional planning model, containing sprawl to preserve the "natural" playground and its biodiversity. In all things a kind of balance. Runaway utopian-as-utilitarian dreaming was, after all, the villain of California-born author Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1971 novel, The Lathe of Heaven, a fable of Portland’s exceptionalist attitude and the relative wealth of its natural inheritance. In this corner of the country, there was the possibility, for some, of a more comfortable—or less uncomfortable—future. Still, the novel’s status as a critique of progress or a privileged and resigned version of the same remains difficult to discern.

Storied weirdness aside, Portland is one of several metropolitan centers with the self-designation, “the city that works.” And it does, though critiques of the “sustainable city” are rolling in from those willing to cast a more critical eye toward the externalities and displacements produced through progress of this sort. Persistent NIMBY-ism and the ongoing battle over a proposed I-5 expansion amid new reports that Portland’s carbon emissions reduction progress has flatlined since 2012 suggest that the city’s climate policies are still far from where they need to be. On a more positive note, Oregon HB 2001’s move to effectively dissolve single-family zoning was the kind of course correction one would come to expect in the wake of new evidence of housing need. As with other improvements over its history—UGBs, public ownership of the coast, mass timber innovation by firms like LEVER and Hacker, ecodistricts, hydropower, cycling culture, and transit-oriented development—in paving the way for a proliferation of duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, Oregon again models a quietly progressive version of a future.

Exemplary care-oriented building projects also come to mind, like the Seven Corners Collaborative in Southeast Portland, where Waterleaf designed a new, fully accessible colocation center for local nonprofits that provide support services for people with disabilities, along with an assistive technology lab for training, consultation, and public interface. Elsewhere, in the Lents neighborhood, a shelter in the repurposed shell of an old church forms the heart of a new “family village” campus by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, Carleton Hart Architecture, and Corlett Landscape Architecture that’s furthering the use of trauma-informed design and concentrated service delivery for families experiencing homelessness. Also in Lents, the new Asian Health & Service Center by Holst provides a venue not only for much-needed affordable healthcare services for the area, but also a well-appointed infrastructure for community social events, all granted a generous view of Mt. Hood from the top floor. SCOTT | EDWARDS ARCHITECTURE’s Portland Mercado fulfills a similar social function for Portland’s Latinx community through a modest adaptive reuse and landscape strategy that ties an existing structure together with a series of food carts, covered outdoor space, and copious seating. Led in part by the efforts of the latter two firms along with Ankrom Moisan and organizations such as Home Forward and Central City Concern, recent supportive housing projects in the city, such as Bud Clark Commons, the Beech Street Apartments, Garlington Place, and the Blackburn Center, are also demonstrating how architecture can operate and innovate through a lens of care and playfulness rather than singular virtuosity or brute force.

This ethos also comes out in Portland’s new and renovated green spaces, such as the collaboration by 2.ink Studio and Skylab on Luuwit View Park in East Portland. The park stands as a microcosm of the city’s celebrated urban landscape innovations, complete with community gardens, dog park, skate park, event shelter, public art, stormwater treatment area, and bilingual signage to acknowledge and accommodate the diversity of new residents in the neighborhood, as well as trails aligned with distant landmarks like Mt. St. Helens, or “Luuwit,” as named in the Cowlitz language. Likewise, with Cully Park in Northeast Portland, 2.ink explored similar design elements on the site of a former landfill in an underserved neighborhood, including significant habitat restoration, a fitness course, and the city’s first Native gathering garden. Developed by the community nonprofit Verde in partnership with the city, the project engaged neighborhood residents throughout the process with outreach, employment, and education programs. 

More broadly, a host of design and planning-based initiatives work to translate reparative sociopolitical agendas into spatial terms, such as the Portland African American Leadership Forum’s 2017 People’s Plan and the more recent Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability publication on the Historical Context of Racist Planning in the city. Blocking pipeline projects and filling streets in the name of climate action, Sunrise, XR, and 350PDX also stake active claims on the city and its future, while newly constructed works like FLOAT’s Portals in Southern Oregon stage direct action pipeline resistance, countering fossil fuel extraction logics with an expansive meditation on architecture’s capacity to support multispecies reciprocity. Further, initiatives and organizations throughout the region like Columbia Riverkeeper, Sightline, Wisdom of the Elders, the High Desert Partnership, and the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project engage in environmental care and land management through advocacy and cross-scalar collaborations, while efforts by the Friends of Trees and the city’s Green Street Steward Program involve volunteers in urban greening and bioswale maintenance. On the academic front, Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design was founded in 2013 to respond to the needs of underserved communities in the city and abroad and has since paired design-build work with robust community engagement processes, while the University of Oregon has launched a multidisciplinary fellowship initiative in Design for Spatial Justice, which mobilizes theory and practice in foregrounding narratives, experiences, and modes of design, political action, and biodiversity conservation long marginalized or excluded by fields responsible for the built environment.

How this expanding constellation of projects and practices might fare in an escalating climate struggle is a crucial question. With even cursory estimates of climate-induced in-migration to the region due to sea level rise alone projecting numbers in the hundreds of thousands over the next few decades, the challenge for utopia would initially seem to be one of scale. The war footing rhetoric of the GND, like that of the New Deal before it, anticipates such scales of action in the work of justice and infrastructural investment. A war footing for scaling care, however, is perhaps a more fraught and paradoxical charge, particularly as the goal would be to move beyond a narrow definition of relief as an improvised response toward the construction of more durable and equitable systems merging care with justice.

In a dysfunctional climate regime, what does it mean to position oneself as a stronghold or a refuge, or a model city? When PG&E issued its now-infamous directive to its California customers to “use your own resources to relocate” when the utility company unilaterally shut off power to nearly a million people back in October, it signaled that climate change survival would become a matter of self-reliance if left in the hands of those with no obligation for care. Against this backdrop, even a modicum of external accountability would come to appear as care and competency. As Holly Jean Buck writes, “There are plenty of scenarios where we deal with climate change in a middling way that preserves the existing unequal arrangements…[where] even muddling through looks like an amazing social feat, an orchestration so elaborate and requiring so much luck that people may find it a fantastic utopian dream.” In a global theater of sociopolitical and ecological degradation, it becomes difficult to assess the utopian potential of projects that work well within familiar registers, leading in some cases to a privileging of expediency and the reenactment of functioning models. 

But, even with the relative risk aversion, what bridges the perceived cultural gulf between the measured and occasionally errant strands of progressivism in the Pacific Northwest and the most fanciful Silicon Valley fever dreams is the recurring belief in some level of remove as a precondition for positive transformation and mastery. The right person in the right boots in the right geography, and a comfortable future is assured. The inclusion of photovoltaics in that picture is a welcome addition, but what is the future of an image like this in a present where what’s demanded is both a dissolution of the concept of human mastery over the environment and a dramatic mobilization, reorientation, and upscaling of progressive instruments closely aligned with the tools, attitudes, and systems that delivered the environment to the brink of collapse in the first place? Its violence veiled as much as romanticized, the story of a pioneer harnessing the productive power of a landscape was one promise of “the West.” As many of Oregon’s latest projects begin to suggest, there are and should be others, and the next steps are critical in defining the kind of refuge the region will become.

Placeholder Alt Text

Olson Kundig celebrates history and food at Oregon's Tillamook Creamery

  In the summer of 2018, Olson Kundig unveiled a sleek, 42,800-square-foot home for the Tillamook Creamery’s visitor center, an attraction in Tillamook, Oregon, that hosts up to 10,000 visitors per day. Part museum and part food hall, the new space celebrates the agricultural heritage of the area, along with the farmers and products of the dairy co-op. The building’s palette of pale wood and dark steel was an abstracted, contemporary interpretation of traditional barn architecture. “We designed the opportunity for visitors to make a connection between the food on their plates and the story behind it,” said Olson Kundig principal Alan Maskin.
Placeholder Alt Text

LEVER Architecture elevates regional materials to new levels of innovation

“People connect to wood differently than other materials,” said Thomas Robinson, founder and principal of Portland-based LEVER Architecture. While training in the offices of Allied Works and Herzog & de Meuron, Robinson initially became attracted to the natural material due to its deep phenomenological properties. As structural timber gained popularity in the Pacific Northwest thanks to its ease of acquisition and carbon-capturing capabilities, his firm dove further into its own use of regionally-sourced timber and progressive construction techniques. “Wood is important," explained Robinson, "but innovation is what drives our interest in wood.” LEVER has consistently been at the forefront of timber construction for the last several years and has demonstrated its skillset at varying scales and through a wide range of innovative building techniques. Below, AN rounds-up a variety of the studio's diverse, wood-centric projects:  Oregon Conservation Center Completed in 2019, the Oregon Conservation Center dramatically renovates The Nature Conservancy's original, 1970s office building, which had poorly lit interiors, inefficient office layouts, and an uninspiring facade. As one of the first buildings in the U.S. to be built with cross-laminated timber panels certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the project reflects the client's own progressive sustainability goals. The firm revamped the near-50-year-old structure by introducing materials and plantings that evoke three regional habitats: the Rowena Plateau, Cascade-Siskiyou, and western hemlock and cedar forests. The majority of the materials were sustainably harvested from the client's conservation sites, while the original building's exterior was completely redesigned with steel cladding that will gracefully patina over time. Hidden from plain sight are a number of energy-efficient initiatives, including rooftop photovoltaics that produce a quarter of the building's energy supply and a subsurface filtration system that manages and redistributes all stormwater on-site. L’Angolo Estate Standing as a beacon within a sprawling, 23-acre winery outside of Newberg, Oregon in Yamhill County, L'Angolo Estate was designed in response to the surrounding views and the area's unique climatic conditions while visually connecting to the native Oregon oak trees that populate the valley. A combination of Douglas Fir, exterior cedar siding, and dark anodized aluminum ties the building to the rustic material palette familiar to the Pacific Northwest. Two cantilevered roof structures made also of Douglas Fir interlock at the point of entry give the building a sense of grandeur despite its petite 2,200-square-foot perimeter. The ceiling of the tasting room is patterned with 86 glulam beams that lead the eye towards the rolling hills in the distance. The tasting room can also expand towards that view through the opening of two large, central sliding doors that double as an effective passive cooling system in the summer in addition to the clerestory windows above them. Mass Plywood Pavilion While CLT was developed in Europe in the 1990s to enable the construction of large-scale buildings, a domestic version to the Pacific Northwest was unveiled only in 2017 by Portland, Oregon-based company Freres Lumber. Shortly after it developed the product, dubbed "Mass Plywood" as a thin wood veneer alternative to CLT, LEVER was commissioned to design the very first structure in the country using it. Their Mass Plywood Pavilion, which debuted in Portland that same year, was built exclusively with timber sourced from forests within 100 miles of the Freres' manufacturing plant in Lyons, Oregon. The pavilion demonstrated the potential of the material by expressing its structural and aesthetic capabilities using the fewest cuts possible to produce just 15 panels. Four of the panels were cut in half to become its structural frames, while others were cantilevered and spread out across the small pavilion. Made with untreated materials, the project also showed off the product's ability to withstand the weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Redfox Commons Located in a quickly developing neighborhood in Northwest Portland, Redfox Commons is made of two former industrial structures from the 1940s that were combined to create a light-filled office campus offering over 60,000 square feet of usable space. LEVER stripped the original buildings down to their timber framing and exposed the wood within the interior while adding 80-foot-long clerestory windows that bring generous natural light down into the massive, open space. Ribbon windows on the buildings' steel-clad exterior further drawn in light. LEVER also designed and built a glassy, central entrance structure to connect the two older buildings. The firm used over 6,500 linear feet of salvaged wood from a preexisting mezzanine building on-site to make a timber tunnel walkway on its second floor.
Placeholder Alt Text

Nike to name Olson Kundig-designed Innovation Building after LeBron James

Oregon-based sportswear giant Nike announced that it will name its new Advanced Innovation Building after basketball legend LeBron James, who has been sponsored by the company since entering the NBA in 2003. The LeBron James Building will form part of the company’s newly expanded World Headquarters (WHQ) near Beaverton, just outside Portland, Oregon.

According to Nike, the LeBron James Building will play host to the company’s Advanced Innovation team, a group of scientists, designers, engineers, and other professionals whose work centers on sports science. The team is responsible for inventing products that will improve performance among athletes of all kinds, including professional players like James. Much of the team’s work will be completed in the Nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL), which will grow five-fold when the new building opens. Designed by Seattle-based architects Olson Kundig in collaboration with Mortenson Construction, the facility will also boast a full NBA regulation-sized basketball court, a 200-meter endurance track, an artificial turf field, and a 100-meter straightaway.

The most eye-catching architectural feature of the new structure is a massive overhang extending outward from the fourth floor, where the NSRL will be housed. The ceiling on the underside of the cantilever is composed of a waffle-patterned concrete slab—supposedly a nod to Nike’s history of material innovation. A 500-foot-long ramp stretches along one side of the building at a 15.63 percent incline, giving athletes a unique training environment on a largely hill-free campus. Portland-based landscape architecture firm PLACE is responsible for designing the grounds.

Slated to open in 2020, the LeBron James Building will join a number of facilities at Nike’s WHQ that are named after famous professionals from the sporting world. The sprawling Beaverton campus is home to a fitness center honoring basketball coach Michael Krzyzewski, an office building named after middle-distance runner Sebastian Coe, and a parking garage celebrating the sports teams of New York City. Nike will also debut the Skylab Architecture-designed Serena Williams Building next year.

Placeholder Alt Text

World's first mass plywood panel approved for 18-story buildings

Located in Lyons, Oregon, Freres Lumber has been in business for nearly a century. After starting out producing standard lumber projects, the company moved into wood veneers some 60 years ago and in 1998 purchased a plywood plant. Now, it's made another step: getting U.S. and Canadian patents on its mass plywood panel (MPP), the first veneer-based mass timber panel in the world, and fire approvals to build up to 18 stories high with the panel. The mass plywood panel has already been put to the test on a smaller scale—this past year Freres worked with design-build startup BuildHouse to construct an A-frame house with the panel in Snoqualmie, Washington. The company has also seen its product used in larger projects. Oregon State University’s new Peavy Hall, a forestry science center designed by Michael Green Architecture (a Katerra partner), featured Freres Lumber’s product on the roof, while the nearby A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory shows off the panels on its interior and exterior walls. Both buildings are part of OSU’s forestry complex, which is designed to display an array of new mass timber technologies. Freres also maintains a relationship with the TallWood Design Institute, a partnership between OSU and the University of Oregon, working with the institute to test its products. The company claims that MPPs have a number of benefits when compared to the cross-laminated timber products that have taken off in recent years—it was a CLT product that collapsed this past summer in the Peavy Hall Project, not Freres’s. Freres noted that MPPs offer better structural support and design flexibility. CLT can only be built out in orthogonal layers and is generally confined to standard lumber dimensions and shapes, whereas MPPs have greater flexibility in form and dimension (the panels and their thin veneer layers can be very small, but they can also scale up to as much as 48 feet long and 1 foot thick), giving designers and builders a greater range to work and experiment with. Prefab plywood panels are also an option, but they can easily be cut by a CNC machine to spec. Mass plywood panels also use less material; they take 20 percent less wood fiber to meet the same structural specifications as CLT. They're also more eco-friendly in terms of what trees they can use. MPP can be built with smaller diameter trees, as small as 5.5 inches, though normally trees with 9-inch diameters are used. Using small trees means relying on second-growth trees, like local Oregon Douglas fir, and ones that are likely to be “choked out” under the shadow of larger growth.  Things are getting easier, according to Freres, and while he pointed out that the “mass timber movement is so new,” many projects and possibilities are on the horizon for MPP, including tornado-resistant structures, highway barriers, as well as buildings both tall and small. “People are constantly coming up with new ideas and new ways to use this material,” said Freres, “[mass timber] is going to be an enormous benefit to the construction industry going forward.”
Placeholder Alt Text

West Coast sees big wins (and losses) in architecture and urbanism ballot initiatives

As Democratic voters moved to retake the House of Representatives and key gubernatorial seats, a series of local architecture-, urbanism-, and climate-related initiatives saw mixed results in western states. Aside from being a referendum on the divisive governance style of President Donald Trump, the midterm election brought with it fierce debates over contentious issues like expanding rent control and funding supportive housing in California, taxing carbon emissions in Washington State, and boosting renewable energy generation in Arizona and Nevada. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of some of the major initiatives and their outcomes.   Arizona: Proposition 127: An initiative to require electric utilities to use renewable energy for 50 percent of their power generation by 2035 failed in the state. The battle over Proposition 127 saw the highest amount of political spending in the state this year, with the state’s main electrical utility, Arizona Public Service, pouring over $30.3 million into a political action committee dedicated to fighting the measure.   California: Proposition C: San Francisco’s supportive housing ordinance was overwhelmingly supported by the city’s voters. The initiative will raise $300 million per year for supportive housing and services from a modest tax levied on companies in the city that gross over $50 million annually in revenue. The measure is similar to the so-called “head tax” in Seattle that was passed and quickly repealed earlier this year. Proposition 1: An initiative to approve $4 billion in “housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans” in the state gained wide approval. Proposition 2: An initiative to dedicate $2 billion from the state’s 2004 “millionaire’s tax” toward providing “homelessness prevention housing for persons in need of mental health services“ was approved. Proposition 4: An initiative authorizing $1.5 billion in bonds for the “construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of children's hospitals in California” was approved. Proposition 6: Voters in the state defeated a Republican-led effort to repeal a recently-passed gas tax increase. The recent increase is helping to fund bridge and road repairs while also providing new—and much-needed—mass transit funding for the state’s growing public transportation systems. Proposition 10: A state-wide effort to repeal the controversial Costa-Hawkins law that limits how municipalities can institute rent control was soundly defeated. Rather than instituting rent control statewide, the measure would have allowed municipalities the flexibility to set their own policies. Tenants’ rights and anti-displacement advocates saw the effort as providing a lifeline for their constituencies; ultimately, the $76 million raised by real estate and Wall Street interests against the measure was too much for grassroots voters to overcome.   Colorado: Proposition 112: Voters in the Centennial State chose to reject a ballot initiative that would have increased oil and gas drilling setbacks from homes, businesses, and waterways. Resistance to the measure was no match for heavy spending by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the proposition’s main opponent. With controversial hydraulic fracturing rising to new highs in the state and an increasingly bleak outlook for climate change-related disasters around the world, Colorado’s pro-environment movement has been dealt a powerful rebuke.   Nevada: State Question No. 6: Voters in Nevada approved a measure that would require state utilities to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In order for the measure to become law, however, it will need to survive a second vote in 2020.   Washington State: Measure 1631: Washington state residents largely rejected a measure that would have imposed a first-in-the-nation tax on carbon emissions. The initiative performed well in liberal King County—home to Seattle—but lost pretty much everywhere else in the state. Measure 940: Washington state residents approved a measure that would require law enforcement officials to receive “de-escalation” and mental health training as well as provide first aid under certain circumstances. The initiative would also require authorities to conduct an investigation after a deadly use of force by a member of law enforcement in order to verify that such force meets a “good faith” test.
Placeholder Alt Text

Oregon becomes first state to legalize mass timber high rises

Thanks to a recent addendum to Oregon’s building code, the state is the first in the country to allow timber buildings to rise higher than six stories without special consideration. Portland has become something of a hotbed for timber innovation as of late. Carbon12, PATH Architecture’s eight-story glulam and cross-laminated timber (CLT) tower with a steel core, recently became the country’s tallest timber building and was set to be surpassed by LEVER Architecture’s 12-story Framework. Alas, that project was put on hold due to mounting financial difficulties last month, but it seems the precedent that the project achieved in securing a building permit from the State of Oregon and City of Portland will live on. The timber allowance comes courtesy of Oregon’s statewide alternate method (SAM), a state-specific program that allows for alternate building techniques to be used after an advisory council has approved the “technical and scientific facts of the proposed alternate method.” The allowance comes after the International Code Council (ICC)–the nonprofit group that Oregon models its building codes after–established the ICC Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings in 2015 to explore the benefits and challenges of using timber in tall buildings. A Committee Action Hearing was held in April of this year, where the Ad Hoc Committee, made up of code experts, stakeholders, and industry members presented their findings. All 14 of the committee’s suggestions were adopted, introducing standards and best practices for fireproofing, the load-bearing potential of CLT and heavy timber, water resistance, sealing, seismic ratings, and more. Three new building classifications were introduced as a result: Type IV A, timber buildings permitted up to 18 stories and 270 feet tall, Type IV B, timber buildings with a maximum height of 12 stories and 180 feet, and Type IV C, which is permitted to rise nine stories and 85 feet tall at maximum. The shortest of the timber typologies is allowed to use exposed structural timber as an interior finish, whereas the tallest, type A, must enclose all exposed surfaces and include a three-hour fire-resistance rating for the structural elements. “We congratulate the State of Oregon on becoming the first state to provide building code recognition for construction of tall, mass timber buildings,” said American Wood Council President & CEO Robert Glowinski in a statement. “Mass timber is a new category of wood products that will revolutionize how America builds and we’ve seen interest in it continue to grow over the last several years. This action by the Codes Division Administrator helps code officials in Oregon by making provisions consistent throughout the state. In adopting this new method, Oregon has also recognized the significant environmental benefits that accrue from greater wood product use.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Portland Art Museum presents Minor White's evocative Oregon photographs

In the Beginning: Minor White’s Oregon Photographs Portland Art Museum 1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland, Oregon On view through October 21 The Portland Art Museum (PAM) is currently presenting In the Beginning: Minor White’s Oregon Photographs, a two-part photography exhibition highlighting the evocative works of the famed 20th-century modernist photographer. The twin showcases focus on White’s early work documenting historic architecture and landscapes in Oregon. In 1938, White was hired to record changes along the city’s Front Avenue for the Oregon Art Project, part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Employed as a “creative photographer,” White documented the iron-front and industrial buildings in the district that were to be demolished in order to make way for Harbor Drive, a new highway on-ramp. The project was followed in 1942 by a commission from PAM to document a pair of historic Portland homes.
Placeholder Alt Text

Oregon bill would encourage new affordable housing but has preservationists up in arms

A controversial bill under consideration that seeks to impose a 100-day limit on reviews for housing developments containing affordable units is currently up for debate in Oregon.

The far-reaching bill, known as HB 2007, would require cities and counties in the state to not only “review and decide on applications for certain housing developments containing affordable housing units within 100 days,” but would also limit local municipalities’ abilities to preclude these housing developments via future national historic district designations. Furthermore, the bill would also limit municipalities’ abilities to require lower development densities in some zoning areas, declare a housing emergency in the state, allow houses of worship to develop affordable housing on their properties, and prohibit municipalities from prohibiting accessory dwelling units or duplexes on lots zoned for single-family use. The measure, which is endorsed by the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Portland and 1000 Friends of Oregon, has been condemned as a handout to real estate and development interests by preservationists. Because the bill would impose limits on the influence of local historic districts, many in the preservation community see the bill as a wide-ranging and existential threat to the state’s historic fabric. The pro-preservation group Restore Oregon contends the bill is based on “false premises” and has offered a set of amendments to the bill, including adding language to the measure to increase incentives aimed at curbing market-rate development, adding disincentives to the bill that would limit the demolition of modestly-priced existing units, and enabling existing homes to be subdivided into as many as four units without prompting commercial zoning regulations as is currently the case in the state. The group also seeks to retain baseline protections for new historic districts. A hearing on the bill will be held June 22nd. See the Restore Oregon site for more details.
Placeholder Alt Text

Snøhetta to restore access to Pacific Northwest's largest waterfall

Snøhetta has released new renderings for the firm’s ambitious reimagining of the Willamette Falls near Portland, Oregon. The project aims to restore public access to the waterfalls by stringing a long, sinuous path through the formerly industrial site. (The Architect's Newspaper first covered the development when it was unveiled in 2015.) The Willamette Falls is the second-largest waterfall by volume in the United States and has been cut off from nearby downtown Oregon City for over a century. The falls are currently flanked by a collection of decrepit industrial buildings and a hydroelectric dam; some of those industrial buildings will be removed and replaced with native riparian landscapes while others will be redeveloped to accommodate new uses. The new renderings for the project depict a simply-articulated path connecting the various elements along the long, narrow, and linear site leading up to the falls. The proposed pathway—which has been designed to accommodate cyclical and historic flood levels and is seismically resilient—starts at the northern end of the site, where several old industrial buildings will be cleared away and a flour mill from the 1890s will be restored. The path here will connect to an old fuel dock that is being repurposed as a public vantage point and dock. After wrapping around the mill, the path transforms into a wide boardwalk overlooking the river that spills out onto a large public plaza framed by historic and new structures. A portion of the plaza wraps over the boardwalk to create a vantage point over the river. At the eastern end of the plaza, the elevated path picks back up, crossing over a creek in order to reach the a complex made up of more restored mill structures. Here, the mill structures—including antique boilers and other original machinery—will be preserved and opened for public use. The path splinters at the mill complex in order to provide elevated vangates and access to public terraces and groves of coniferous trees. The path ends at a broad promenade at the falls, where visitors can peer out over the dynamic landscape. Here, visitors can observe 360-degree views of the waterfalls and experience the cliffsides from pathways engineered to be supported by existing structures. The Willamette Falls proposal is scheduled to be unveiled June 3 at a public ceremony, and construction is expected to begin June 2018.
Placeholder Alt Text

Works by John Yeon, the godfather of Pacific Northwest modernism, go on view at the Portland Art Museum

John Yeon (1910-1994) was a godfather of Pacific Northwest architecture. His 1937 Watzek House garnered international attention when the Museum of Modern Art included it in the 1939 book Art of Our Time and the 1944 traveling exhibition Built in USA. The modern house, which now serves as the John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape, was built with local woods and references historical styles. Providing a counterpoint to the International Style lauded by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Yeon’s work was prescient of the regional influences that would soon disrupt modernism's taut white boxes. Running through September 23 at the Portland Art Museum (PAM), Quest for Beauty: The Architecture, Landscapes, and Collections of John Yeon, exhibits sketches, working drawings, models, and photos, as well as a video wall replaying a time-lapse of Yeon's landscape masterpiece The Shire, a 75-acre, 25-year project along the Columbia River Gorge. Randy Gragg, guest curator of the exhibition and director of the John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape, dotted the exhibition with vases, paintings, and various sculptures from Yeon's own collection, providing an artistic accompaniment to the architect's own works. The diversity of representation ensures that the material can reach a wider audience than his buildings. Barry Bergdoll, a Museum of Modern Art curator and Columbia University professor, presented the lecture “John Yeon and High Stakes of Regionalism in the 1930s” at the PAM on Mother's Day, a kind of inaugural lecture. A contributor to the exhibition catalog, John Yeon Architecture: Building in the Pacific Northwest, Bergdoll placed Yeon in a socio-political context that straddled the taut, industrial modernism and traditional, regional styles. Yeon was a prototypical critical regionalist who used passive techniques, architectural manipulations, and materials of the region to design what Bergdoll described as a "temple to timber and the Oregon landscape." In 1941 Yeon was included in MoMA's The Wooden House in America exhibit, as his plywood houses from the 1930s exploited the Pacific Northwest's pioneering material in designing affordable homes, much like Frank Lloyd Wright's contemporary Usonian houses. And it was within this canon of architects that Bergdoll placed Yeon—amongst Aalto, Breuer, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Wright. He was perhaps most closely aligned in spirit with the material and regional sensibilities of Antonin Raymond. While the work of the self-taught architect was not nearly as extensive as many other architects of the period—Yeon realized 18 homes and one public work (Portland Information Center of 1941)—his impact resonates in the region. For more on Quest for Beauty: The Architecture, Landscapes, and Collections of John Yeon, see the PAM's website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Snøhetta's first full-scale U.S. exhibition will open in Portland

Starting April 17, the nonprofit Center for Architecture in Portland will host the first full-scale exhibit on Snøhetta (see AN’s interview with founding partner, Craig Dykers) in the United States. The Norwegian and American firm is known for their international institutional projects: public and academic libraries, museums, opera houses, and more. In the U.S. they are working on projects like the Times Square reconstruction to the upcoming James Beard Public Market in Portland, a concept for the Willamette Falls River Walk in Oregon, the SFMOMA expansion opening this May, and an extension to the French Laundry Kitchen in Yountville, CA. The exhibit, Snøhetta: People, Process, Projects, features sketches, renderings, and models that provide a peek into the firm's process. The firm's architects and designers produced and curated the exhibit, too: “Join us at the lunch table or inside the workshop, where 3D prototyping and traditional craftsmanship drive conversations and exploration of new forms,” they said in a release. It’s a traveling exhibit of sorts—the exhibit made its first appearance at the Copenhagen Danish Architecture Centre last summer. The exhibit starts the first day of Design Week Portland, a spring design-oriented festival in The City of Roses that ends April 23. There are events on restorative design, data storytelling, restaurant design, and more, as well as design studio open houses throughout the city. (Seattle, by the way, has an equivalent event in September, hosted by Design in Public. The theme this year is Design Change.) The exhibit runs through June 30.