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Behind the Lens: Photographing Discovery Hall

by JD Gutermuth

When done well, a photograph can tell the story of a place – and as architects, we rely on images to tell our stories, to show people what we do. The art of architectural photography lies in being able to compose the photograph in a way that captures the essence, atmosphere, and beauty of the building. This takes precision, an incredible eye for design, and loads of patience.

I recently had the opportunity to assist at an architectural shoot, and take a look behind the lens as THA’s just-completed Discovery Hall (at University of Washington Bothell) was being photographed by Lara Swimmer, a Seattle-based photographer.

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Construction Update: In a pure existential, experiential being kind of way.

by Nic Smith

As the air cools and winter approaches, our construction team – led by Kirby Nagelhout Construction Co. – is closing in on completion of the New Home for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon in Bend. With the building fully dried in, the exterior siding starting to fly, and stone site walls underway, a more complete picture of how the building coalesces with the site is emerging.

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Technology in Classrooms: In or Out?

by Becca Cavell

I just read this fascinating article thanks to a link that SCUP sent out to its members a few days ago. The piece, by NYU educator Clay Shirky, explains why a social media expert has banned the use of technology in his own classroom. As architects, much of our work in recent years has been trying to find effective ways to integrate technology into the classroom environment, so it is refreshing to pause for a moment and consider the relationship between effective learning and our human nature with technology. Shirky shows us that device designers and social media providers take advantage of our biological make-up to deliver “can’t ignore” messages – the sounds and visuals that emanate from our iPhones are a constant distraction from concentrated study. This probably isn’t a revelation to any of us, but when Shirky talks about the science that shows how students’ test scores diminish when they are simply within view of another person’s web browsing, we have to pay attention.

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The Great Debate of 2014: What’s next for the Portland Building?

by Audrey Alverson

When I heard Michael Graves would be in Portland to discuss the Portland Building, there was no question that I would be there. I was excited to gain perspective on this oft maligned and (most recently) hotly debated City building directly from its designer, and I knew this would be a quality production, with Randy Gragg (not one for shying away from the tough questions) as the facilitator.

After introductions, Graves started with a presentation of his body of work – immense as it is. Randy stated clearly he wanted to give some context to the audience’s perception of Graves and what he has done beyond the Portland Building. I appreciated this because knowing Randy, I assumed it was a little bit of a dig at the Portland public’s derision of Graves. Maybe we didn’t all have enough information to criticize so harshly?

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From the Vaults: Lewis & Clark Signature Project

by Sarah Bell

I recently ran across this article from SustainableBusiness.com – Which Universities Are the Greenest? – featuring Sierra Club’s annual “Cool Schools” ranking. I was surprised to see only one Pacific Northwest higher education institution on the list, but happy that Portland’s Lewis & Clark College ranked Number 5. As Lewis & Clark is one of THA’s earliest academic clients, reading this article inspired me to write about our early work there for our next From the Vaults post.

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Atriums: Bang or Bust?

by Laurie Canup

Last November, Dave Banks (CPP Wind), Mitch Dec (Glumac), and I had the great opportunity to do a presentation at Greenbuild about atrium designs, energy efficiency, and smoke control systems. Particularly in the Northwest region, atrium spaces can offer great energy saving benefits by bringing daylight into the building core and offering a pathway for natural and passive ventilation. However, fire and life safety issues present a design challenge. Throughout the design of the Lewis Integrated Science Building (LISB) at the University of Oregon, we learned a lot about how to design these spaces – both to save energy and to provide a safe environment in the event of a fire. For buildings that have a true atrium space, effective smoke control is an important part of ensuring life safety. After all, if it isn’t safe, it isn’t sustainable.

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From the Vaults: Arizona Historical Society Museum

by Sarah Bell

As THA turns 31 years-old this year, we want to honor our roots through a monthly post featuring past projects. Our first “From the Vaults” project is the Arizona Historical Society Museum, a winning entry in a national design competition that put THA Architecture (then Garfield Hacker Architects) on the map in the fall of 1985.

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The Perils of “Glitz” in Information Design

by Nic Smith

Last week Edward Tufte, a professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University, visited Portland to give one of his storied courses – Presenting Data and Information. I had the opportunity to take this six-hour course, absorbing all I could from this legend of information design.

The take home message, as old as time itself: Content is key.

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A Smattering of Sketches | For Fun

by Audrey Alverson

Yes, we do still draw by hand.

For all the hand sketches and diagrams we generate during the design process, most are rarely seen outside the office — have a peek!

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The Portland Building Debate Circuit Continues

by Becca Cavell

It’s time to follow up on my earlier piece about the Portland Building. Peter Meijer and I publically debated the fate of the building for the first time over a year ago, at the Docomomo Symposium in Florida. Since then we’ve reprised our face-off three times in front of live audiences – in Portland and Hood River – and we had the pleasure of sparring gently on the radio courtesy of KBOO’s ArtFocus show as part of a longer program that addressed a couple of other local landmarks too (listen here). We’ve made a point to engage the audience in the discussion whenever we can, and along this journey I’ve learned a lot of things about the building and people’s attitudes towards it.

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