Brion Tomb; architect Carlo Scarpa
How we learn and grow while consulting...
We aim to produce the highest quality documentation, with written documents and cost estimates fully coordinated to your designs. Taking our commitment to the next level involves consistently doing more: Ensuring reference back to appropriate standards, maintaining consistency with code requirements, engaging in on-going product and material exploration and research, and all to be able to make educated recommendations to our clients.
ACCESSIBILITY & DIVERSITY
We believe that accessibility is about more than accessing a building; it is a factor driving diversity. We must meet our desire to achieve a richer and more diverse world, where people of all types and abilities mutually contribute to strength-ening and further developing our culture by providing the means for all people to participate in our places of commerce, work, education, entertainment and habitation.
We have developed a Division 01 specification section to provide a single point of reference for Accessibility requirements for your project. While all appropriate sections include their own unique requirements, the requirements of this Division 01 section provides a clearinghouse of dimensional and other coordination requirements to ensure that the subcontractors coordinate with the work of other trades, and provide the General Contractor a means to ensure all trades understand and work toward the standards.
For more information about ADA standards for accessible design, visit U.S. Department of Justice [website].
We also keep our finger on the pulse of further developments toward awareness of the needs of others and inclusivity in our collaborative designs. One example of this is 'neurodiversity' or the designing of spaces that anticipate the needs of people who aren't neurotypical and function under conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit syndrome, dyslexia, and Tourette syndrome. For more information about designing for neurodiversity, see HOK's recently published document "Designing a Neuro-diverse Workplace" [website].
Our office is committed to being on the leading edge of materials transparency and clarity in materials reporting and building products accountability. We were early members of the local group Portland Materials Transparency Collaborative (PTMC), and helped out by building the PMTC's website. We were also one of the first signatories to the national Materials Pledge letter, now with more than 85 firms nationwide having signed-on. Here is a link to review signatories to the Materials Pledge letter, and to become one yourself.
In 2018 we worked jointly with our client Hacker Architects and a graduate student team from Portland State University's Graduate Studies in Architecture program to develop our first "Declare-label intensive" project, for a gymnasium addition to Oregon Episcopal School we specified for Hacker (now under construction). Then, as a follow-up within the office, we hired one of those PSU grad-students to work for us during the winter of 2018, summer 2019 and again this summer, to incorporate Declare, EPD and HPD compliant products and manufacturers to our baseline specifications.
Logos below provide links to program resources for product transparency:
We love great design, and we listen to what you want to do! With all of our staff being architects and architect-interns, we want to be involved in your project and explore the myriad ways that your vision can be realized and your design constructed.
We meet with your project team on a weekly basis, and then remain in your office for a period of time after that weekly meeting as necessary to continue to consider options and explore materials with individual team members as needed. Additionally, we have developed a web-based Coordination Matrix in Google Sheets which becomes the clearinghouse for products, materials and systems the design team selects for inclusion in the project, organized by section, and providing real-time awareness of the specifications status. This is how we can be your "in-house" out-of-house specifier. Invite us over to explain more how we collaborate. View this document that explains our process:
We are driven to support and augment the efforts our clients are making on a daily basis, on every project, to use less energy and water, to include products and materials with higher recycled and non-virgin content, to select finishes and materials that do not include harmful ingredients, and ultimately, to support those manufacturers who provide resources toward these same efforts.
Logos above provide links to various program resources we engage with with our clients' on projects, created by groups that are doing the right thing.
Our firm has provided architect-ural specifications for over 20 mass timber projects since 2015, including a broad variety of types, from residential and office buildings, to community and higher education, trans-portation and municipal, and using a range of structural sys-tems from pure mass timber to various hybrids.
DELEGATED DESIGN &
Selecting and designing around specific products as basis-of-design and the use of delegated design for complex systems are important aspects of your design process.
We have carefully developed specification language to accom-modate these important aspects of your design and documentation while helping ensure that building code requirements are respected. We also help the design team determine when engineered design with deferred submittal will be required, or can be avoided - Something that will be important to your project's GC!
The content of our baseline specifications continues to be developed from the Master Specs provided via our license with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Avitru (formerly Arcom). For the translation of our baseline specifications to software tools like SpecLink and e-Specs, we brought MasterSpec's structure and content in, and then enriched that with our proprietary experience-directed articles and lessons-learned content. We then augment that with content to align with your firm's specific concerns, your own lessons-learned, and directed toward features important to your design intent.
CM/GC & DESIGN-BUILD
Many of the larger projects our firm participates on to provide specifications are contracted through collaborative methods, with co-located staff, integral constructability reviews, cost assessment throughout design, with mutual risk and reward driving to the project's success. Our Construction Manager-as-General Contractor (CM/GC) experience includes:
Providence Park/ Timbers Stadium Expansion (for Allied Works Architecture, with Turner as CM/GC)
Adidas East Village Expansion (for Lever Architecture, with Turner as CM/GC)
OSU Marine Science Initiative (for YGH Architecture, with Anderson as CM/GC)
OSU College of Forestry (for Michael Green Architecture, with Anderson as CM/GC)
PSU Stott Center (for Woofter Architecture, with Forts as CM/GC)
Additionally, we have worked on several Design-Build teams, including:
Portland International Airport's new Parking Additions and Consolidated Rental Car Facility (for YGH and JE Dunn)
OHSU's Knight Cancer Research Center (for SRG Partnership and the McCarthy Anderson JV)
Evergreen Chapel (for Woofter Architecture and Hoffman)
Our staff are constantly on the look-out for new products, improved materials, unique finishes and updated processes. We bring these to the table whenever we meet with you, incorporating lessons-learned from past projects, ideas for materials and finishes from our other collaborations, and resources and contacts we maintain with manufacturers and product representatives.
Architects are sociologists at heart, intrigued by human behavior, and always interested in how those beliefs and actions can manifest their importance through design changes that support them.
Our staff is ever-attuned to changing standards and behaviors, as well as our clients' evolving designs which embrace developing behavioral patterns. Whether that is helping find the right acoustic materials to support the open-office work environment, providing updated specification requirements that support the shift toward more ecological and low-energy materials, or suggesting new systems to better operate in communal, gender-less restroom facilities, we are intrigued and excited about helping you.
For more information about gender-neutral design, see this Metropolis article.
(Image above: Mahlum Architecture’s gender-neutral restroom design Grant High School, Portland Public Schools)
We are often asked how we produce and maintain our library of specifications and carry them forward for editing for individual projects. After much review and testing of various specifications writing software and systems, our specification writing process has settled on the continued use of standard word processing to maintain our baseline specifications files. Meanwhile, we have incorporated our baseline specifications into two specifications software tools, allowing us to flexibly work with your design team to allow take-over of the specification editing process following delivery, if desired: Building System Design's SpecLink software and InterSpec's e-Specs program. We would be happy to explain our conclusion, as well as how your office might collaboratively manage your own specifications with our oversight.
Architectural photographs are the primary means we have to experience the spatial and tectonic qualities of the projects that captivate us. Michael started taking photos of buildings from his earliest recollection, and still likes to capture the texture and richness of materials wherever he goes (most of the images on our website). An architectural photographer worth knowing is Sebastian Weiss, whose ability to capture light's play on building forms is remarkable.
We would love to show you some photos...
(Boathouse on Konigsee, Germany)
EDUCATION & MENTORING
Michael has regularly presented "Specifications: The Other Construction Document", to the Portland AIA's Small Firm Round table, and as a lunch-n-learn to several of our clients to better convince their staff of the beauty of the written word in conveying architectural intent. Invite us over to your firm, and we'll order the pizza!
A link to a similar presentation is at 'Teaching' in the column to the far right.
Many of our clients ask that we utilize the tools that they and their owner/ clients and consultants use to better manage information and share documents for review. We are experienced and ready to work with you on a variety of platforms with which we are already familiar, including the following:
Furthering our understanding is very important to us - It's our passion! One aspect of the work that gets us excited is going to the project sites to see first-hand how our efforts have an impact. If you see us in our PPE on your site, say hello!
We also host "lunch-and-learn" activities and attend training seminars, code update reviews, conferences and we invite our clients and other collaborators to join us: At local AIA events and seminars, at regional design conferences and through lunch-n-learns we help organize in your office. Here are some events we've attended or participated with in recent years:
Greenbuild, Living Future Unconference, Construct, AIA Committee on the Environment, AIA Building Envelope Council, local CSI learning events and tours, and the biennial Oregon Design Conference and biennial Monterey Design Conference.
We look forward to seeing you at one of these, or inviting you along - Please ask to join us!
BEAUTY IN THE DETAILS
We enjoy the buildings you anticipate, and we would like to help you make them real. We are not scribes in a corner, picking-up revisions from your red-marked spec's, slaving away on a cost estimate (though we have to sometimes).
(40 Bond Street, Herzog & de Meuron)
We are designers too, and we love details. Share with us the imagery you've developed, the sections and sketches, and allow us to recommend products and possibilities to improve your design. We'll integrate this design process, help find that metal finish you've envisioned, come up with some better ways to align those surfaces or transition the materials at that corner ...and we'll all have more fun!
We learn more when we teach. Michael maintains inspiration for project documentation once a year by presenting to the Professional Practice class for Graduate Architecture students at PSU, under Prof. Ned Vaivoda. The connection and appreciation the students have each time is really invigorating. Michael has also made similar presenta-tions, "Specifications: The other construction document" to the Portland AIA's Small Firm Round table, and as lunch-and-learn sessions to our clients to better inform and integrate their staff with into the specifications process. Please invite us to your office to provide a similar presentation.
Here's a link to our presentation:
...and architects love to travel, right? Well we believe it's so important we insist on it! Our staff to take their paid vacation time to travel and expose themselves to new places.
Here are some places we've recently seen and want to share with you:
Museum of Art of the Twenty-First Century (MAXXI), Rome by Zaha Hadid
Kolumba Museum, Cologne by Peter Zumthor
WHY WHAT WE DO MATTERS ...or "I wish I had a specifier on my design team".