Repacking Portlandia

Carl Alviani’s Medium article provides a fascinating analysis of the direction of Portland’s urbanization.  According to him the transition of the housing vista is inevitable, yet in many ways delightfully in line with many of Portland-community values, albeit with a decidedly more urban lean.

I was surprised, myself, to find that Alviani’s proposed 5-year track is fairly appealing to me.  Particularly because he suggests the infill we could not have anticipated by looking back on our city’s landscape ten years ago - a year ago! - is developing in a decidedly walkable/bike-friendly way.  The development, also, appeals specifically to renters.  

Hopefully, then, unlike in the case of San Francisco’s astronomical housing crisis resulting from a lack of supply, Portland will produce enough housing to meet the demand of an increasing population of young professionals.  

The difficulty lies in maintaining a balance of a new urbanized lifestyle with the approachable, affordable backdrop of Portland’s upbringing.  Simultaneous to all of this, then, too, is the question of how well contractors and developers will be held accountable for providing the percentage of below-market housing options they are supposed to provide with any large scale project.  History has not painted a pleasing picture in that regard; gentrification would be a sad continuation of dated urban planning, and, frankly, human rights.  

I’m also curious how organizations that are interested in sustainable urban environments will participate in this discussion and process.  These types of organizations and firms are already asking questions about how to inspire and perpetuate a ground-level, community driven culture of sustainability on a wide scale.  Now one must ask how this can be achieved in a swiftly evolving, complex landscape.

A friend just shared this video with me showcasing the outrageous illustration talent of a Mr. Marcello Barenghi (cough*marryme*cough).

The realism he achieves on paper is so impressive to me.  While watching I kept imagining whole rooms rendered at this level.  It’s outstanding enough to come across a good photorealistic digital rendering, but to see one of this level done by hand feels practically impossible.

Green Garden Grow - Indoor Edition

I’ve been doing a little research on plant life, both for my thesis and for my own (half-lit) home.

I came across these two guides by Going Home to Roost.  They’re both really easy to read, informative, and pretty nice to look at.  Ahhhh, when function and beauty collide.  

First, for those of you looking to purify your indoor air - say, if you have, oh I don’t know, a potty-training toddler in the house, or someone prone to burning the dinner.  Perhaps you’re just concerned about your city’s air quality come open-window season, or the extent of off-gassing coming from that varnish you used to update an old sideboard you scored at a garage sale.  Whatever the source of the air toxins, these plants can help to mitigate their presence and thus their effect on your health and quality of life.

Did you know that any one of these plants can remove all but 90% of formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene in no less than 24 hours?!  I didn’t either until I read the rest of her post (click the link above, or the image below to do the same!).


Second, many of us dream of living in a treehouse - up in the leaves, sunlight filtering in, and the sound of birds waking us up like in some movie from our childhood.  Unless building a treehouse is actually in your future (doooo it!), the second best option is to bring the trees to you!  This makes me really excited, and I scoped out the couple of spots in our home where one of these could fit within about ten seconds of reading this post.  Click the link above or image below to go to Going Home to Roost’s full post.  Note the different light required by each one.  Here they are:


I’m a huge fan of the Mother-In-Law Tongue - or what I’ve also heard called a Snake Plant - for up on a shelf in my son’s room, and out in our living room or dining room.  I REALLY want a fiddle leaf fig tree (who doesn’t these days?!) or a rubber tree in my living room, too.  The trick will be whether or not a have a spot with enough light.  It’s worth a try, eh?!

Which tree would you bring into your own space?

To save for later, you can find these images on my new "Green Garden Grow" board on Pinterest.  

"Learning" Architecture

Finland is well known for its impressive educational system.  One that does not teach to standardized testing, but repeatedly ranks among the very highest globally on the PISA test, an international standardized test. 

Last year, educational professionals and architects collaborated to study seven examples of Finnish schools and how the architectural environment itself lends to a successful learning space.  

The exhibition which took place in New York is long gone, but there remains a book, available digitally, which marks the lessons learned from that exploration.




The torture of making something great.

After weeks and weeks of work, I’m getting somewhere.  This last fall semester consisted of work on my concept and the space planning for the actual building.

I made some great strides on my concept, though much of that happened after the term ended!  It turns out getting walking pneumonia, then pneumonia, during the last half of the semester and feeling worst during finals is NOT a great idea.  Take your vitamin-C folks!!!  

For weeks I did not feel that my concept was solid, deep, or coherent enough.  I think you know when your concept is ready when other subsequent design choices start to get pretty easy, and really fun.  If not, head back to that metaphorical - or actual - drawing board, my friend.  

However, spending some relaxed, meditative time during winter break in a delightful coffee shop with The Civil Wars playing on repeat through your headphones can be quite a productive way to spend one’s time!  


Beyond securing a work-worthy environment, for me it took recognizing what was working in the very impressive work of one of my classmates.  Her concept had become so solid, deep, and coherent that it had essentially taken on a life of its own within their space.  I really, really wanted that.  I wanted for my building to speak my concept fluently.  


Once I realized that the reason my peer’s concept was so effective was because it had a dynamic to it - it was an actual life, not simply a set of spots in a building where some ideas could take shape - I got something to click for my own concept.  Ideas that I had repeatedly scratched over and over again onto paper as I tried to machete-chop my way through to clarity, like a traveler hacking her way through blackberry brambles to reach the restful oasis just beyond, suddenly congealed and took a form that stood with conviction, energy, and vitality.  


Ultimately, my greenhouse concept is fueled by this quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

And the work on my building looks a little something like this:







I am eager to share and get feedback on these newer decisions from my professors, and particularly in the ways I am currently envisioning the concept taking shape within my space.  I want to push my design more and more.  I really want the thesis itself to be excellent, and I really want to learn as much as I can about how to do this while I still get to be in school.  To manipulate spaces with everything available in order to create a genuinely new world that accomplishes what it sets out to do for those who will use it. 

In this same sense I have also been reflecting a lot this week about how Interior Architecture & Design has been an amazing starting point for my direct involvement with this industry.  But the more I learn, the more I want to understand as much as I can about architecture and even urban planning, too.  The making of uplifting, relevant, ideally functional spaces and places, at all scales, is just the best, isn’t it?!

Frank Lloyd Wright: Density vs. Dispersal

In about six weeks I’m going to be visiting one of my best friends in the great city of New York.  It’s a trip several years in the making.  The stars finally aligned, and about as soon as I told her I was coming, she asked me, “What’s in your NY bucket list?!”  I did all the requisite, touristy NY attractions when visiting the first and last time nearly 15 years ago (15 years?!).  That was great, but now I’m ready for a new perspective of this city to rival all others.  Also, between my friend and I, we’ll have three toddlers in tow.  I imagine that will influence things somewhat, no?

Well, those babies of ours had best prepare to be educated in the language of modern art. This morning whilst fiddling around on Instagram as I munched on a quick bite at Starbucks, post drop-off-hubby-at-the-airport, and pre mission-find-that-hole-in-the-wall-tailor-from-that-one-time, I found my first NY Bucket list item.  

Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal!

Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959). Broadacre City. Project, 1934–35. Model: painted wood, 152 x 152” (386.1 x 386.1 cm). The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)

Image courtesy of MOMA.

I’m pretty excited.  I’m freaking out.  Yup.  As I move farther and farther into my studies the architecture bug is finding an increasingly stronger hold.  Later, as I walked around downtown Portland trying to find the aforementioned tailor, I felt as though even those few modest city blocks were rippling with eager questions and mesmerizing answers made of brick, mortar, glass and the talents of those who, too, got a tickle when they had the chance to learn more about the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and his influence on the way our modern world looks.