Architecture

Functional Furniture

Jun 12, 2014 by Christina Kwiecienski

bench plantera bench that pairs as a planter - outside AIA Portland

I really like this idea of having a functional object, such as a bench, that can have multiple uses. Something that celebrates the relationship between the built and natural environment. Plus, I can always use a little more greenery in my life. 

Recessed Shower Niche

Mar 14, 2014 by Hiromi Ogawa

North Berkeley shower niche

Finishes are being installed at our North Berkeley project, and the linear recessed shower niche is looking quite nice.  The field tiles are glass subways, while the glass mosaic accent tiles are on one wall, spilling into the back side of the niche.  Both tiles are by Hakatai.

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!

Serene, modern, soft, timeless

Oct 20, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Thank you, Mt. Angel Abbey, for hiring Aalvar Aalto back in 1966.

Topics: Architecture

John Lautner at LACMA through July 24 2011

Jul 15, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

A must see for anyone who will lives in LA or will be visiting in the next month.

Topics: Architecture, Life

The city of Eindhoven as a music score for piano

Apr 21, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

It's a kind of player piano that reads the city like a score.  The music it creates is not "harmoious" per se, but then again, what city is?  The analogy of architecture as music and vice versa has always been a source of fascination.  Goethe was quoted as saying "Architecture is 'frozen music'… Really there is something in this; the tone of mind produced by architecture approaches the effect of music."

Device above: 'stadsmuziek' at Milan Design Week 2011 by Akko Golenbeld

Topics: Architecture, Art

Spatial Beauty Secrets

Mar 3, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

I follow quite a few blogs, and they can be roughly divided into these categories:

  • architecture
  • business
  • design/fashion
  • food/cooking/eating
  • parenting

I just wrote down those categories in order of professional importance, but in reality, the ones I read first are from the three bottom categories, and I make it back up to the top of the list when I have time.  (That's just between you and me.) In all of my readings, what gives me the most happiness is when these categories cross over, and fashion blogs talk about architecture, or parenting blogs talk about food.  The kitchen below is from one of those crossovers.

I liked that this kitchen photo was paired with a photo of the latest bag from American Apparel.  There's a sensibility that we can all appreciate, whether it's fashion or architecture. So, here are some things I have learned from this photo, which you can adapt to your kitchen (or any other room).  Just like you would take that bag and pair it with your favorite shoes.

  1. you can mix new architecture (clean lines, minimal details) with traditional elements (architectural details, vintage furnishings, salvaged pieces) if the architecture can act more as a backdrop or canvas.  The space should be light-filled, and clean, but neutral and flexible.
  2. identify the predominant colors in the room, and stick with 2-3 of them.  Use accent colors as needed, but the rest of the "field" should be a concept of 2-3 colors.  For the kitchen above, the predominant colors are black and white.  Notice that even the floor is white.  Wood/brown is the third color, but only used as a grouped accent color.
  3. even an open kitchen can look clean if you group similarly colored items together.  Pots, pans, furniture - keep them grouped and compact, as if they are one larger piece.

Try it on a room in your house, and let me know how it goes.

Topics: Architecture

Do you want a slide in your house?

Feb 25, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Stairs to go up, slide to go down.  (of course you can use the stairs to go down, too).  It's not the slide per se, but the idea of a little playfulness in the design.  Do you want a slide in your house?  Thank you Mike, for sharing this fun project with me.

by LEVEL Architects
Topics: Architecture

Pages