Tag: awards

Thomas "Gunny" Harboe Keynote Speaker at 2012 McMath Symposium

The Rookery | Image Harboe Architects, PC

Chicago architect and award-winning preservationist, Thomas “Gunny” Harboe, FAIA , was the inaugural keynote speaker for the George McMath Symposium on May 30, 2012 at the University of Oregon in Portland at the White Stag Block.  The lecture was held in conjunction with the presentation of the George McMath Historic Preservation Award.  This year’s 2012 award was presented to Portland architect, Hal Ayotte.

Harboe works with the firm of Harboe Architects in Chicago.  Harboe’s lecture, “Restoring Chicago’s Icons:  A Public/Private Partnership,” focused on describing Harboe’s fascination with the past, respect and passion for historic objects, and his work with some of Chicago’s most historically and architecturally relevant restoration projects. For over 20 years Harboe has played key roles in working to restore iconic structures of the Chicago cityscape, including the Rookery, the Mies van der Rohe apartments on Lake Shore Drive, and the Reliance and Marquette buildings.  “Preserving our collective cultural heritage is important to society,” commented Harboe, “we need to give it a life that will extend it beyond us.”

With a lifelong interest in conservation and preservation, Harboe credits his childhood experience of living in a New Jersey Revolutionary War-era home as fostering an early affection for history and objects.  It was in this historically relevant family residence that the young Harboe discovered an interest in found objects and gained an appreciation for antiques.  Harboe soon turned to an education steeped in historical study, spending a year in Denmark at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen; and later earning a bachelor’s degree in history from Brown University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from Columbia.  His hands-on and practical skills were cultivated further with his work as a carpenter eventually leading to a job on the team that would restore the Frank Lloyd Wright Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  Harboe has credited that MoMa experience as being “where the epiphany happened.  I realized that the key decisions about what got done had already been made by somebody else: the architect.”  Hence, he turned his focus to pursue a master’s in architecture from MIT.

The Rookery | Image http://therookerybuilding.com/

Harboe, equipped with load-bearing quantities of academic, visionary and practical experience was soon working with the Preservation Group at McClier, the architects who would be commissioned by the Baldwin Development Company to restore The Rookery.  Considered the jewel in the crown of Chicago’s  architectural and commercial built environment, The Rookery is a 1888 Burnham & Root building that included a lobby by FLW.   As luck would have it, Harboe was the intern-architect-in-training at the firm, and he amusingly recalls “I was the guy who knew something about preservation.”  The rest, as they say, is history.  And so, began Harboe’s presentation to the UO audience.

Harboe initially presented his work with the Rookery, completed in 1992.  Revealing intriguing details such as how each window had to be removed, all original sashes put back in place, and having to cope with  4000 corners of fenestration where water had ample opportunity to leak in (and it had), Harboe walked us through the trials and tribulations of  careful, accurate and painstakingly detailed historic restoration and preservation.    Removing approximately 20 layers of black paint from the oriel staircase (removed and cleaned by crushed walnut shells under pressure), and having to rely on a creative interpretation of replicating single piece teardrop elements as two pieces glued together, the architect-preservationist confided aspects of the process to reconstruct the original LaSalle Street and Adams Street lobbies to the original [circa 1910] appearance.  Harboe spoke of the importance of finding sources to help recreate or restore elements to an historically appropriate form.  This might include the use of historic photographs, finding a small but original fragment of wall or flooring, or simply cleaning a surface down to a semblance of its historic original.  Graciously offering credit to the workers and craftspeople who joined him on the project, Harboe firmly advocated for the importance of hiring “the right people for the job,” saying “craftsman make a difference.”

The Reliance Building | Image Harboe Architects, PC

Harboe’s preservation, restoration and rehabilitation of  The Rookery was praised by both the architectural and historical preservation professional fields as well as the city of Chicago.  Having completed this very successful project, Harboe moved on to his involvement with the Reliance Building, also by Burnham and Company  (1891) and completed by Charles Atwood (DH Burnham and Company, 1896).  The Reliance Building is one of the most important early skyscrapers in America.  At this point, Harboe paused to address the importance of the Federal Tax Credit to his historic preservation work.  Harboe explained the effectiveness of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax incentive program as contributing to positive and cost effective public/private revitalization programs and, hence, directly influencing his projects.

The Reliance Building (renamed and converted to the Hotel Burnham in 1999) has been termed “proto-modern” by architectural historians. Its expansive and elegant fenestration and strip-like sections of white glazed terra cotta are distinctive and highly relevant to its design. Like all of Harboe’s projects he addressed during his lecture, the building is listed both as a National Historic Landmark and a City of Chicago Landmark.  Harboe noted the remarkable steel curtain wall that is made up of an internal steel two story-high column and provides all structural support for the building.  He also spoke of the importance of being creative and flexible when needing to find substitute materials. For instance, the windows in this building were beyond repair, they were replaced.  The original cornice that had been removed in 1948 was reconstructed in cast aluminum.  Even with these alterations, Harboe stayed persistently true to the original patterns. Harboe further emphasized his use of historic photographs, drawings and remaining fragments in the detective-like job to authentically replicate a structure.  Harboe also brought up another important issue in his historic preservation projects, that of the importance of place and infusing a place with renewed vitality.  The primary focus of this historic preservation project, he commented was to “give life to [the street] and that [was] the intention of the project, to revitalize.”

Sullivan Center | Image Harboe Architects, PC

Harboe’s work on the Sullivan Center (built 1898-1904) involved all exterior restoration, Federal Tax Credit Program consulting, and City of Chicago façade examinations.  A building best known for the elaborate cast iron storefronts and a curved rotunda, the project truly relied on the Tax Credit incentive; Harboe briefly discussed how his focus had to fixedly remain “not doing anything that would jeopardize the Tax Credit.”  In order to create the necessary elements for this building, Harboe turned to a sculptor to recreate the details characteristic of the original designer, Louis Sullivan.  Working with a craftsperson familiar with the techniques available to create ornamental work was of great importance.   With exceptional workers, Harboe maintained his team was able to place remarkable attention to exact detail and towards the investigation of existing parts to restore this building.  Speaking of the reconstruction of the ribbon windows, the matching of the colors for the glass elements, and the color matching for the terra cotta (working from found fragments buried deep within the walls), Harboe stressed the challenging aspects of his work.  Turning to an amusing anecdote of good fortune on-site, Harboe recounted the team finding a large fragment of paint that had been trapped under a canopy.  The fragment would consequently be used to attain a correct color match and be the most formative piece leading to an accurate hue.  Using and having a knowledge of forensic investigative-like techniques is very helpful in the restoration field, commented Harboe, noting that he relies on such investigative strategies for each project.

Much of the cast iron work for the Sullivan Center was done off-site. Harboe recalled how this turned the project into a gargantuan job with disassembly of parts that “in many cases were held in place by the friction of the corrosion.”    Harboe added that this campaign of difficult structural situations made each stage arduous especially with the added logistical difficulty of having to remove each piece to an off-site location.

Chicago Board of Trade | Image Harboe Architects PC

Harboe’s work on the Chicago Board of Trade Building (1929, Holabird and Root), one of the finest Art Deco style buildings in Chicago, began in 2004 with renovation efforts to restore the Art Deco aesthetic of the lobbies, improve elevator operations for 24 elevators, and modernize building systems.  The building was of particular importance to Chicago as it is viewed as a symbol of the city.  Harboe began this project by cleaning the exterior limestone surface of the structure simply with water.  He advocated for using “environmentally friendly substances whenever possible.”  Important features of this project included the interior lobbies with six varieties of marble, nickel silver metal trim and ornamental plaster as well as a luminous ceiling featuring a panel of light.  All of the lobbies were illuminated by stylized fixtures using nickel silver frames and glass, the challenge here was to recreate missing fixtures, and nickel silver features.  On this project, Harboe related finding some original treated elements that became key pieces to the restoration.  Harboe’s keen attention to detail and his willingness to really look, explore, observe and delve into the hidden pockets of a structure and find minute details of ornamentation, color, and materials has lead to many of his discoveries that end up being the pieces that put the puzzle of historic restoration together.  The necessity of being able to look and investigate, research and uncover is one of the most important aspects to any restoration project and cannot be underestimated.

Commenting on his experience with all these projects, Harboe again emphasized the importance of the workers who help realize the projects.  “The tradesman make the difference,” he asserted.  Concluding his lecture with this advice, Harboe took questions from the audience.



"More Relevant Than A Segway:" UO's Oregon Manifest Entry Takes Shape


Led by intrepid designers, Christian Freissler, Senior Industrial Designer at Ziba Design, and James Molyneux of Nike Innovation Kitchen, both center.

Oregon Manifest, September 23-24, 2011 | The Constructor’s Design Challenge

What is it?

A competition to design and build the ultimate modern utility bike…

“A diverse range of individual frame builders and collaborative teams from across the nation will test their mettle against Oregon Manifest’s rigorous design criteria, in pursuit of the ultimate modern utility bike.”

When is it?

Friday, September 23:  See the bikes. Meet the builders.  View the field test route.

7pm to 10pm | Pacific Northwest College of Art | 1241 Northwest Johnson Street Portland

Saturday, September 24:  Constructor’s Design Challenge Field Test |  Start 50 miles outside Portland City limits | Finish Chris King Precision Components 2801 NW Nela Street  Portland

For more information and a complete schedule, go to the Oregon Manifest website.

Meet the constructors:  34 entrants from 11 states | 6 student teams.


[On an early-August evening, University of Oregon’s Product Design program’s Oregon Manifest design team invited the observation and documentation of their work.   As the group of designers, students and bike builders forged ahead in the crafting of the “ultimate utility bike,” their work was filmed and photographed.  What follows is a brief progress report of their creativity and vision….]


[9 August 2011.]  Dividing their time between a secluded bike-building workshop deep in the greenery of a lush Portland forest and a bay of daylight-infused studios on the fifth floor of the White Stag Block, a group of seven University of Oregon Product Design students have been busy this summer imagining, designing, creating, and fabricating the ultimate utility bicycle. Part of the Oregon Manifest Challenge 2011 and UO’s Summer in the City special course offerings, the project is the second part of two terms that focused on the framing, design, refinement, and building of the University of Oregon’s final entry.

It still remains a mystery...what will the material of UO's Oregon Manifest bike be?

Led by designers, Christian Freissler, Senior Industrial Designer at Ziba Design, and James Molyneux of Nike Innovation Kitchen, and a working collaboration with Portland-based bike builder, Dave Levy of Ti Cycles (owner of the forest-based workshop), the bike will be crafted to be “something new, and functional.”

Freissler comments that in Portland:

“Bikes are more than a lifestyle…they are a way of life! Being used for everything from delivering soup to hungry local neighborhood offices, commuting through town to bombing down the mountain. Cyclists have a way of finding a DIY fix to every problem! But then that just highlights the opportunity to create something different.”

And, indeed, something different is what they plan on presenting at the September 23, 2011 unveiling event.

University of Oregon was among a select group of schools invited to participate in the Oregon Manifest student design competition. Together with the concepts of professional bike builders and renowned design consultancies, the UO Product Design bike will be judged and exhibited at the final challenge in September. Freissler and Molyneux together with technical expertise of master bike-builder, Levy, cooperated to challenge UO students to go back and look at the true meaning behind the bicycle and theorize how that can be re-interpreted for a modern and connected city like Portland.

Forest road leading to Dave Levy's Ti Cycles workshop where UO students are fabricating their Oregon Manifest bike.

Last week, I was invited to tag along with the group to get a sneak peek of the students at work in the Ti Cycles workshop. The experience of getting to see the group at work, discussing confidential drawings, analyzing ideas and mulling over the highly complex notions of their original concepts was nothing short of inspiring. This was the final phase —the building of the entry bike, and consequently, very exciting for both students and instructors.

The night I attended the workshop, students and professors were getting the first glimpse of the final design becoming real, parts fitting together, materials being joined, machinery being used to craft the ultimate design, talk and plans and ideas were running high and the level of enthusiasm was captivating. Freissler and Molyneux carefully and thoughtfully guided the students to lead the discussion and to make the formative decisions themselves, stepping in only to mindfully guide a decision or encouraging students to recognize time constraints and the goals of the competition.

Freissler notes:

“It is not always easy to carry forward a design made by seven people! You need to choose your battles and sometimes this means letting go of your own idea for something the group believes in. But it also means that you sometimes have to stand up and fight for a detail if you really believe it is relevant for the project. The students are definitely doing that and they are learning to make timely decisions and to coordinate with available shop time and deadlines. The instructors and students are also quick to point out the positive working relationship they have with Dave Levy saying that his guidance and insight has kept them “grounded and [gets them] connected with the craft. Levy’s love of bikes and details reflects on [us] and we’ve learned a lot from him over the past few months.”

And, while I can’t divulge the details of their design nor the particulars of the materials, you can see this first glimpse of the work behind the University of Oregon’s entry for Oregon Manifest 2011. The project has a life of its own—a complete and seamless merging of the craft of custom bike building and industrial product design that, as Freissler asserts, “makes the magic of this project.”   When asked to comment on the emerging design called in some promotional materials “The Work Duck”, Freissler and Molyneux agreed, “We are looking for more than quirky and a bit of hipster style.  We’re going to step up and do something that’s more than an aesthetic makeover, and more relevant than a Segway….”  We wish them well….and will keep you posted.

post | photos   sabina samiee  uo portland

2011 Commencement Celebration | Portland | School of Architecture and Allied Arts

On June 4, 2011, students from the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts in Portland

Department of Architecture |     Digital Arts Program |     Product Design Program

celebrated commencement.   The event was held at the YU, a contemporary arts center in Portland located in the landmark Yale Union Laundry Building.  The School of Architecture and Allied Arts expresses our sincere appreciation to the YU for hosting our 2011 Commencement Celebration.  Director of the YU, Sandra Percival, herself UO alumna, was asked to comment on the UO | YU collaboration.  She offered the following reflection:

“As a UO alum, I was pleased to have the UO Architecture and Allied Arts’ studio projects, professional open house, and graduation ceremony at YU. As YU embarks on its vision to bring challenging national and international contemporary art to Portland to empower the artistic imagination and cultural life of the Northwest and repurpose its historical landmark building, hosting UO was synergistic with our vision and the spirit the great space on the second floor beckons.”

The following is a pictorial essay of images from the day.  In addition to faculty members from each department who presented a certificate to the students as they walked across the commencement stage, all departments were represented by a student speaker:  Dustin Foster (Department of Architecture), Brad Saiki (Digital Arts), and Andrew Lindley (Product Design).  The student speakers were chosen to represent their peers and remark on their overall experience in the program.  All three student speakers were invited to submit their speeches for inclusion in this blog post.  Dustin Foster, who had already moved to San Francisco just days within commencement was kind enough to quickly email his remarks (despite the fact that during his speech he had tossed into the air each one of his cue cards…much to the amusement of his audience).  Foster’s speech is here included in its entirety, as numerous comments from students in all disciplines indicated that his presentation eloquently and delightfully shed light upon their past years of work and time spent at the University of Oregon’s Portland program. [If | when transcripts of Saiki’s and Lindley’s presentations become available, they will be added to this post…]


Last fall a group of 67 enthusiastic young adults set out to complete the final year their architectural education. Armed with zeal, vigor and vitamin D soaked-skin, this attractive, youthful group marched forward. Today a group of pale, malnourished, sleep deprived beings sit amongst you. But what you’ll notice is that the numbers have not dwindled. We did not lose a soul to attrition or the grand rapture.

Marching to the summit as a group unified by a common cause, we learned a great deal about ourselves and the world we occupy. We met many wise and noble leaders with grand and minute lessons of great significance. We learned from Brook Muller that the key to communication is to envision people with little tiny heads. David Gabriel bestowed upon us the importance of bonding. Just moments before my final presentation he attempted to dislodge a portion of my model.

Many lessons we learned were from within the group. Three of our more adventurous members set out to develop a barrier able to withstand the onslaught of God’s wrath. In doing so they gave us the R98 2000 Bio-Dome, able to protect against the raining fires of Armageddon. In spite of their valiant efforts, the group discovered a vulnerability in the barrier. Unable to withstand the onslaughts of Pauly Shore and Rick Astley, the team accepted their defeat and proceeded humbly.

Without the support group accompanying us on our journey we would not have completed our task. There are many who deserve credit, but I will mention a few who sacrifice a great deal to see us succeed. John Leahy works with a bunch of tools…in a windowless room below the earth. And yet he is willing and eager to offer his many skills and talents to all. Perched atop the White Stag, Chris Costler is incapable of being knocked off course. Chris offers several resolutions to any technical quandary without ever stirring from his post. Gerry Gast, our seasoned sage, offers a continuous stream of warm, inspirational support. The first time Gerry found me in studio past 9pm he said, “Dustin, what are you doing here. I didn’t know you worked hard.” Thanks Gerry. You cannot mention Gerry without immediately thinking of Nancy Cheng. The two are like peanut butter and chocolate, coffee and toilet paper. Nancy introduced us to many great practitioners and innovators along the way. Although I don’t know how she made the introductions as thought I was Craig Race up until a month ago. For those who don’t know Craig Race, imagine a taller, better looking, more talented version of me with a deeper, sexier voice. So I got that going for me, which is nice. Jeff, Jeff, Geoff, Jeff, Jeff. I lost count. Is that how many Jeff’s we had? There was a Jeff on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Together, all the Jeff’s made for a resource of all imaginable information. Thanks to PSAC for providing provisions and distractions to get us through. One of the highlights of the PSAC Beaux Arts Ball was seeing Hajo dance.

To our friends and families, thank you for putting up with our absence. We probably have not called enough and for those that were around, we probably have been ignoring you. We will try our best to make our way back into your lives.

Finally, Kirsten. On my cue card I have two things written, ”finally” and “Kirsten”. Without you we would be not be here graduating today, and that’s no joke. Without you we would be lost.

I have some bad news as we celebrate our graduation. In spite of our great sacrifice some of you will not become architects. The good news is that you have been provided with a holistic set of tools to take on some of the great civic, national and global problems that plague our world from the number one university for sustainable design in the nation.

So with great pride I encourage you to march forward and remember on your journey why you chose this path. But before you pack up and depart, you have earned the privilege to sleep for days.

–Dustin Foster, June 4, 2011, Commencement Speech, YU for the UO A&AA Portland



Faculty and staff, 2011 Commencement Celebration, Portland AAA.




Kate Wagle, Administrative Director, addressing the crowd.



Kirsten Poulsen-House, program assistant.



Corey Smitke, Assistant to the Administrative Director.



Michael Salter addresses the crowd.


Commencement speaker, Brad Saiki, Digital Arts.




Michael Salter.



Commencement speaker, Andrew Lindley, Product Design.


Kiersten Muenchinger.


Commencement speaker, Dustin Foster, Department of Architecture.


Nancy Cheng.

A selection of images as students accepted their congratulations from faculty…..



Dustin Foster makes his way to the stage.


post & photos | sabina samiee | uo pdx