Kitchen musings: our contribution to a Houzz kitchen article

Dec 4, 2012 by Hiromi Ogawa

Houzz approached us to help them with an article about kitchen design do's and don'ts.  It was an interesting exercise to verbalize what we as designers do with intuition and experience.

[houzz= w=380]

Topics: Press

Samaras/Sorensen Dining Room featured on Houzz

Nov 6, 2012 by Hiromi Ogawa

The Samaras/Sorensen Residence Dining Room (it is called the Stannage Avenue Residence on our Houzz page) has been featured on Houzz, in an article called "Extendable Tables Solve Dining Dilemmas".  The extendable table wasn't designed by us, but the article points out that the corner dining bench (our custom design) saves space while allowing a comfortable area to gather.  This bench design was our solution to provide efficient seating, open up the house layout, and maximize storage all at the same time.  The bench extends through the Living Room, where it becomes more seating and a media cabinet.

Entertaining solutions, just in time for Thanksgiving - I hope you get cozy and enjoy the Holidays!

Topics: Press, Projects

Success at Dress for Success: a campaign kick-off party

Oct 30, 2012 by Hiromi Ogawa

We have been working with Dress for Success Oregon on the design of their new Patricia Whiting Career Center, and the organization had its fundraising kick-off party last week.  The event was attended by donors, supporters, volunteers, and staff, and the space was brimming with excitement. Dress for Success has its origin in dressing low-income women who are re-entering the workforce, but during the recession, it became clear that the organization needed to support their clients in job search and retention.  The career services were originally provided in a single cubicle, but quickly outgrew its tiny footprint and is presently conducted in the back half of their clothing storage room.  They have been so successful through their workshops and programs, that this new Career Center space allows the organization to support more clients in a warm, inspiring, and supportive environment. The event took place in the future space of the Career Center, which was formerly a tattoo parlor.  We initially had a variety of design options, including some that kept the original tattoo booths in place, but in the end we landed on a much more open plan. We helped them with the event in the way we knew best: by providing graphic representations of the design.  Carson Howell crafted the design boards, while I prepared a slideshow presentation of the design progression and programmatic components.  Speeches by staff, the board president, a former client, and the CEO were also part of a dynamic program, designed to inspire everyone who attended the event. Our hope is that this is the beginning of a very successful fundraising campaign, one that will allow the design to come to fruition in early 2013.  To find out more about the event and how to donate, please also see the blog post by Dress for Success.  Thanks for your support!

Topics: Projects

Fisher/Bogart Residence - sneak peak!

Oct 24, 2012 by Lynn Fisher

Here is a sneak peak of Lynn's house in Palo Alto, which was completed this summer.  The rest of the house and the exterior are equally modern and simple; the best part is that it's a spacious and comfortable home that reflects Lynn's family's lifestyle.  Ann Marie Griffin of Lazy Suzan Designs provided the beautiful white and oak semi-custom cabinets, while fully custom oak cabinetry, integrated seamlessly with semi-custom components, were fabricated by The Source Fine Woodworking.  Owens Construction's expert craftsmanship and management brought everything together.

More photos soon!

Photographs by Scott DuBose Photography.

Topics: Projects

Forever Green and blushing

Oct 9, 2012 by Lynn Fisher

Last week, Lynn and I were honored by the Girl Scouts of Northern California as 2 of the top 100 women who have "made a significant impact to sustaining the environment, economy, or community".  We attended a beautiful reception at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, where we were amongst a dense crowd of very interesting men and women.  Best of all, the Space Cookies (a Girl Scouts robotics team) were demonstrating their basketball hoop-shooting robots, and helped answer some of my burning questions about robotics opportunities for children.  Awesome!

As to why we think we won this award.... we have very detailed green standards, both for our clients' projects and within our office.  Integrating low-cost and no-cost sustainability measures has been a standard practice in our office for several years, so we don't feel like it's really something we need to brag about.  But apparently, helping our clients navigate through their myriad of sustainable cost-value decisions, while still maintaining a standard of beauty and utility, is something this 100-year old organization wanted to celebrate.  We are so honored and humbled by this recognition, and we are inspired to keep serving our clients and the community with our integrated and holistic approach. 

Thank you Girl Scouts!

Topics: Office, Press

Fisher Residence kitchen - sneak peek

Oct 2, 2012 by Lynn Fisher

We just received some photos of the Fisher Residence kitchen from Scott DuBose Photography.  Here's a sneak peek!

Topics: Projects

A weekend without Architecture

Sep 10, 2012 by Hiromi Ogawa

A weekend of camping and exploring at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (plus some time floating along the sparkly John Day River), and I did not miss the built environment, not once.

Topics: Inspiration, Life

Why you should always listen to your mother

Sep 4, 2012 by Hiromi Ogawa

me and my mom, at the Nezu Museum

While I was in Japan this summer, we spent a day in Aoyama and visited the Nezu Museum.  The museum had been closed for several years, but re-opened in late 2009, after a major overhaul by Kengo Kuma.  I hadn't seen it since it re-opened, so I was excited to go, especially since Kuma had recently been selected to design the expansion of the Portland Japanese Garden (his first public North American project).

beauty... and glare

I was busy trying to learn from the building, soaking in the proportions and detail.  I admire Kuma's work and this was my chance to see one up close.  We were walking through the first gallery on the main floor, when my mom remarked, "you know, I love the architecture and all, but I can't see the Buddhist sculptures' beautiful and serene faces when there is glare from behind them."  And she was absolutely right; even though it was striking to see a framed view of the garden beyond, it was making it difficult to see the exhibit inside.  I realized that I was so enamored with the building, that I forgot what the building was for:  to house one of the most extensive and beautiful collections of Asian art and antiquities. My mom, as usual, was right.

Hot off the press - our Summer Newsletter!

Jun 12, 2012 by Lynn Fisher

Click on this link to see a sneak peek of Lynn's house, as well as some other projects in the works!

Oh, final reviews, how I have missed you.

Jun 8, 2012 by Hiromi Ogawa

It's the end of the school year, which means final reviews: architecture students are presenting their final projects. Professors and seasoned practitioners (the critics) huddle around your presentation drawings and models, listen to your presentation, then proceed to dissect your project.  By your final year, you know know not to take criticism personally, but rather to apply it constructively to your next design.  I think the biggest and best lesson we learn in architecture school is the ability to analyze, critique, and to take that criticism and do something with it.  It's a skill that can be applied to any discipline, and I have been thankful to have gone through that learning process myself.

Here is Carson, who is currently helping us with the Dress for Success Career Center design, and is also a fifth year student at the University of Oregon.  She is getting ready to present her thesis project (in the picture she is doing a practice run with just me), and this is her last final review.  She has been working on this project - a "sacred grove" healing facility and transitional housing for women and mothers - for almost 18 months, and she had a lot to show.  She looked a little tired, I suspect she had been pulling several all-nighters.  It's kind of a "rite of passage" for all architects, to push yourself to the very limit of your abilities.  I think she's going to do very well during her review.

When I say I have "missed" final reviews, I mean the tension and energy, the rigor of young designers, and the performance aspect of reviews.  Also, for critics like me (professors and practitioners who are reviewing the work), it's a window into the future: the students show us their design skills, their interests, and their tenacity.  At its best, participating in reviews can inspire us and keep us invigorated.

To all the architecture students out there, having final reviews - keep up the good work!