Tokyo Heat

Jul 21, 2009 by Hiromi Ogawa

June and July are the rainy months in Japan.  The heavy humidity and stagnant heat are downright oppressive. Combine that with sweaty people in crowded places and you have Tokyo.

I just got back from spending three weeks there, seeing family and drinking cold beverages.  That's one thing that really made an impression during this trip: the cultural desire for food and drinks to be cold, or just to seem colder, than the weather outside.  During the rainy season, and all throughout summer, Japanese cuisine is focused on cooling.  Cold noodles, ice cold beer.  Fragrant herbs, spices, and vinegars are used in abundance, because it's believed that it clears your senses and makes you feel cooler.

udon lunch set with ice cold beer
udon lunch set with ice cold beer

Ice cream is sold absolutely everywhere, with a large, 3D soft-service ice cream sign outside the stores.  Nico (our two year old) fully took advantage of this visual reminder to consume as many ice cream cones as possible.

mmm ice cream
mmm ice cream
mmm more ice cream
mmm more ice cream
Topics: Food, Life

Hi Sam!

Apr 27, 2009 by Lynn Fisher

Lynn Fisher in our San Francisco office has been on maternity leave, and is returning to work on 5/4/09. We wanted to share photos of little Sam since he's part of the hoa family!

sam 5 weeks

Samuel Paul Bogart was born January 29, 2009 at 9:33pm.  7lb 14oz.  20 3/4" long.

sam and tess

Here is Sam with Tess, who turned 2 in March.  Can you believe how big and mobile they get in just 2 years?

fisher bogart family

The whole family in Sea Ranch.  How they managed to get a smiling toddler to sit still, and a gurgling baby to look toward the camera, is beyond me.

We've missed Lynn at work and look forward to having her back.  Congratulations, Lynn!

Topics: Life

breathe in…

Apr 27, 2009 by Hiromi Ogawa

I've been getting into meditation lately, and the core of our focus is on breathing.  Breathing alcohol takes it to a whole new level.... and calling it Alcoholic Architecture elevates it to the realm of design and experience.


Topics: Food, Inspiration

Portland office photos

Apr 24, 2009 by Hiromi Ogawa

After the newsletter went out on 4/22/09, from which we got a great wave of responses, we also had many requests to share what our office looks like.  All photos were taken by our lovely office mate, Kristin Beadle of Beadle Design.


This is our entry alcove, right inside the glass entry.  Our architectural resource and sample library lines the red shelving on casters, designed by our very own Zack Gillum.  All of our custom casework (which includes our desks and wall-hung shelves made of apple ply) was fabricated by MADE in Portland, who does beautiful work locally and nationally.



entry display shelf

To the right of the resource library, we have translucent white shelving by Cubitec.  We have a few pieces and magazines living in some of the cubbies right now, and hope to fill it up with more toys and objects that strike our fancy.




Here you see the built-in wood desks lining the left side of the office.  The right side of the office consists of the entry alcove, the conference table, and a future lounge area by the glass garage door.  The three spaces are softly defined by the red boxes with our library in them.  Finding furniture for the lounge is taking us longer than we had expected - we're looking and waiting for just the right pieces - a sofa that's long enough to lie on, two side chairs, and an coffee table that doubles as an extra meeting surface. A few table and floor lamps will also help make that area feel warm and cozy, like a little vacation spot from the office.



office center

In the background you see the office "hub", which is a raised tabletop (user-friendly counter-height design) with a print/mail area on one side, and a little kitchenette on the other.  When we have Friday cocktails with friends, this is where we inevitably end up standing around and talking - it's the hearth of our office.

So there you have it.  If you want to see more, you'll just have to come over.



Topics: Inspiration

A study in contrasts – Vader House on Archinect

Feb 20, 2009 by Hiromi Ogawa


Beautiful in so many ways. Check out:

- the sunken pool in the courtyard

- the way the new, light structure meets the old, heavy one

- contrast between light and dark, color and no color, plain and detailed

- the tubular kitchen hood (hoods are usually ugly, so this is refreshing)


Our office is currently designing a modern tansu-like storage area under a stair for a client in California, and I see that Andrew Maynard has a similar treatment under his scissor stair.

Topics: Inspiration

Bird’s Nest – The Movie

Feb 20, 2009 by Hiromi Ogawa


Herzog and De Meuron make a por... I mean a movie.  It's playing on 3/8/09 at the Whitsell Auditorium in Portland.  For more information, you can find it here.

Topics: Inspiration, Life

Portland bridges

Dec 29, 2008 by Hiromi Ogawa

Every Portland bridge is unique and beautiful in their own way.  The Morrison Bridge, which is located near our office, is a metal grate draw bridge and is transparent when vertical.  You can see the sky through the bridge: a lightness that defies this heavy structure, connecting two sides of the riverbank.

Morrison Bridge

Topics: Inspiration

Top 7 list for designing your perfect home

Oct 29, 2008 by Hiromi Ogawa

This is an outline to a talk I have given in the past.  I think it's important for everyone to be well-informed, so I hope you find this list to be useful when approaching your next wonderfully dreamy idea.

Living the Dream: an insider’s guide to designing and building your perfect home.

1.    Philosophy.  Most importantly, you’re trying to make your surroundings into a reflection of who you are.  Consider forming a “mission statement” of sorts, aside from the wish list, which explains who you are, what you enjoy, and how you want that to be reflected in your environment.

2.    Wishlist.  Here’s where you list everything you’ve ever wanted to do, even if you don’t think it applies to design or to your immediate future.  The more comprehensive the list, the better the design.

  • a.     Scope of work – divide the list between needs and wants
  • b.    Budget – include a 15% buffer for contingency
  • c.    Schedule – when do you want to start or finish construction?

3.    Your team.  Mainly, you need an architect and a contractor.  If you have a particular architect or contractor in mind, have them help you find the other.  You want to make sure that everyone on your team works well together.

4.    Logistics – your architect can help you determine the parameters for your project.

  • a.    Property information
  • b.    Planning code
  • c.    Building code

5.    Design.  This is the fun part.  It’s also very intense.  Your architect will help you navigate through each phase of design, while keeping everything on schedule and on budget.  The goal is to get exactly what you want!

6.    Execution.  Your architect and contractor will be working with you through all phases.

  • a.    Design
  • b.    Building permit(s)
  • c.    Bidding/negotiation
  • d.    Construction

7.    Maintenance.  With a new environment comes a commitment to a new lifestyle.
It’s a long process of design and construction, so make sure you have fun during the process.  With the right support (this includes your architect, contractor, colleagues, and family members) it will be smooth and enjoyable.

We’ve moved!

Sep 18, 2008 by Hiromi Ogawa

We have moved our Portland office into the historic Olympic Mills Commerce Center, a former cereal mill located in the industrial district in inner Southeast.

Our new contact information is as follows:

hiromi ogawa architects

107 SE Washington Street Suite 150

Portland, OR 97215

tel: 503-477-7075

fax: 503-477-7327

Our San Francisco information remains the same, and now has a toll free general office number:

hiromi ogawa architects

115 Moffitt Street

San Francisco, CA 94131

tel: 800-409-7327

fax: 888-887-9956

Stay tuned!


old shadows

Sep 17, 2008 by Hiromi Ogawa

I love demolition.  You see layers of the past right before your eyes.

Demolition has started in a kitchen in Portland, OR and the space, devoid of cabinets and color, is just gorgeous.

p91712331Here's an old built-in ironing board nook (which was buried beneath sheet rock and layers of wall paper and paint), and you can even see where the ironing board used to be.

And the back side of old lath and plaster looks like icing layers on a cake.