100 years of Architecture in Oregon

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 27 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the American Institute of Architects in the State of Oregon.  In the Fall issue of Oregon Architect magazine, the AIA of Oregon celebrates Oregon’s architecture by looking ahead to what the next 100 years might hold given today’s economic and environmental hurdles.  More than ever, architects, engineers, planners and universities are collaborating with local communities in an effort to improve environments as a whole, not just individual structures.


The magazine takes a look at Oregon’s most influential architects, including Pietro Belluschi who designed the Portland Art Museum in 1931, Ellis Fuller Lawrence who founded the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts in 1914, and Margaret  Goodin Fritsch – the first woman to graduate from the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture in 1923 and the first woman in Oregon to be licensed as an architect, and  discusses how Oregon has “become a national model in smart urban planning.  States around the country look to us for how to manage growth through long-range community planning, thoughtful urban design, and the careful use of resources.”  This includes all areas of Oregon, not just Portland: 

“Long renowned for its plentiful natural resources, Bend experienced a population boom during the 1990s and 2000s.  Local planners and developers had to play catch-up to meet the demand, leaving little time for creative, long-range planning, according to Don Stevens, AIA, owner of BBT Architects.  But developments such as Bend’s mixed-use NorthWest Crossing show that growth can be accommodated  while incorporating parks, trails and other amenities that foster livability and retain  the region’s natural character.  And while the recession has dampened residential construction in Central Oregon, institutional projects such as schools and medical facilities continue to rise, Stevens said.”

With many cities still in need of revitalization, the University of Oregon recently began a Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI), which “is a cross-disciplinary organization that seeks to promote education, service, public outreach and research on the design and development of sustainable cities.”  Each year, the University partners with a city in Oregon (Sustainable City Year or SCY), and outlines courses in architecture, landscape architecture, product design, interior architecture, planning and public policy, journalism, law, arts administration, civil engineering, business, historic preservation and economics to focus on assisting the chosen city with goals and projects.   Examples include ways to make the city more energy efficient, reuse industrial byproducts, connect parks with bicycle paths, and design energy-efficient municipal buildings.  The reception of this program has been overwhelming, with the New York Times calling it “perhaps the most comprehensive effort by a U.S. university to infuse sustainability into its curricula and community outreach.”  The Sustainable Cities Initiative is currently entering its third year, and has chosen Springfield as the SCY partner city.  

While a struggling government continues to search for answers on how to reduce unemployment, the ongoing efforts within Oregon including those by the AIA, architecture firms, the Oregon University System and numerous other organizations looking to improve the state, city by city, prove that Oregonians are committed to creating healthy, active environments that are energy efficient and conducive to growth.  Behind these efforts, we can only imagine there stands a hope that sustainable cities will more effectively produce and retain jobs at a steady rate, lead citizens to become more involved, and so much more.

AIA Oregon's Top 10:

1.)    Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood

2.)    Mount Angel Library, Mount Angel Abby

3.)    Commonwealth Building, Portland

4.)    Portland Art Museum, Portland

5.)    US Bancorp Tower, Portland

6.)    Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland

7.)    Portland Central Library, Portland

8.)    Gordon House, Silverton

9.)    Memorial Coliseum, Portland

10.) The Watzek House, Portland

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