Role of The Architect Constantly Evolving


In 2011 President Barack Obama, at the Pritzker ceremony speech, defined architecture, “It is about creating buildings and spaces that inspire us, that help us do our jobs, that bring us together, and that become, at their best, works of art that we can move through and live in. And in the end, that is why architecture can be considered the most democratic of art forms.” (The Pritzker Architecture Prize honors a living architect or architects who have produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.)

Look around our various communities. Through the decades architects have designed structures, entire neighborhoods and commercial spaces that define our environment…the design can be both functional and aesthetic, make a statement or sit quietly and unnoticed serving the users. Like art, architecture has its critics who can praise the work or find it uninspiring and even dreadful.

The famous American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, said this about architecture:
“What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying taste of the various lords of mankind? I think not.

“No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived. So architecture I know to be a Great Spirit….

“Architecture is that great living creative spirit which from generation to generation, from age to age, proceeds, persists, creates, according to the nature of man, and his circumstances as they change. That is really architecture.”

Wright held architecture in the highest regard claiming the mother art is architecture and without it we have no soul of our own civilization.

Architecture schooling is considered to be one of the most rigorous known in academia. Architects must complete a professional bachelors or masters degree in architecture that has been accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board and qualify for a state licensure. In order to be licensed, they must complete a three-year paid internship. In Central Oregon, to the best of our knowledge, there are 71 licensed architects. Local firms employ approximately 130 people.

The role of the architect is constantly evolving particularly in the areas energy, sustainability and environmental design. They are helping our communities rethink how we plan neighborhoods, public facilities and commercial spaces and the kind of home we live in. More frequently new structures are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified as green buildings. LEED-certified buildings are resource efficient, designed to use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As an added bonus, they save money.

In this issue Seth Anderson, AIA of Ascent Architecture & Interiors points out that even old buildings can incorporate energy efficiency measures. He says: “From a sustainability perspective, the embodied energy of an existing building makes remodeling an earth-friendly option, and building renovation can encourage additional redevelopment of neighboring buildings, or even an entire business district. When evaluating an existing building for a new use, we focus on enhancing the underlying character of the building, while looking for ways to incorporate energy efficiency measures to improve both the aesthetics and usefulness of a structure.”

The Year Ahead
We asked local architects to give us a quick take on the year ahead as the architecture world unveils new projects including the Bethlehem Inn Family expansion, Best Care Detox/Respite Care, OSU Innovation Center, Barnes Butte Plaza, Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center, Warm Springs Travel Center, Tetherow Adventure Cabins, Cook Crossing Affordable Housing, Juniper Springs ALF/Memory Care/Cottages, Brentwood Manor Rehab/Housing Works, Riverside Apartments Rehab/Housing Works, 18th Recreational Facility, Third St. Market Place, Shevlin Wellness Bldg. 11 and Humm Kombucha.

Mike Gorman AIA, LEED AP of BLRB Architects offers that this upcoming year will be substantial and …he has seen a rise in mixed-use projects in Central Oregon, as even first-time developers look to invest in a region with so much growth and opportunity.

Peter Baer president of Pinnacle Architecture, Inc. says this year started with a vengeance. “From the elections to the weather, it is quite a whirlwind. But, with a New Year comes renewed vigor and opportunities. Our markets — housing, healthcare, senior living, education and public facilities — are predicted to remain strong. The State is continuing to invest in these important human services.”

Seth Anderson notes Ascent is bullish on the opportunities that Bend’s approved UGB expansion offers. “I predict we will start seeing a strong interest in new development within the city’s core and in newly annexed areas as more developers and property owners become aware of these opportunities.”

Scott T. Steele AIA, NCARB, LEED AP of Steele Associates Architects LLC and his firm are very excited about 2017 and how robust the design and construction industries are in Central Oregon. “The incredible amount of work and activity should bode well for the entire economy. Many market segments are flourishing including education, senior, hospitality, medical, recreation, industrial and manufacturing.”

Scott also lauded the City of Bend and all their staff and other citizens and groups who worked so hard on the UGB Expansion. “This is critical to how our community can grow in a thoughtful planned way, and as architects we know we have responsibility to do our part, along with our clients, to design excellent and sustainable master plans and buildings to enhance our communities and the built environment.”

RJ Johnson principal LEED AP of Ultra Architecture says his firm is consistently seeking improvement in the design and built environment we live in and to execute with collaboration, innovation and sustainably as core values. “In the near future, conceptual projects will emerge which will showcase possible designs and development outcomes for our community, and yes, challenges and solutions exist within each one of them. I ask your support in these pivotal ideals. Get involved, provide important feedback and champion them, as their importance is immeasurable to the livelihood and livability of our emerging city and connected region. Ultimately, you will be creating an experience for our rich community and helping to create a legacy for our future generations.”


About Author

Thanks to getting fired 20 years ago by a previous publication, Pamela Hulse Andrews became the founder and publisher of Cascade Publications Inc. which publishes both the print and online versions of Cascade Business News and Cascade Arts & Entertainment. Pamela’s diverse business background gives her a broad perspective on the arts and business community. She has championed the growth of the arts in the high desert region and played a leadership role in connecting the dots between arts and economic vitality. She writes an assortment of monthly and weekly columns on local arts, politics, business and the economy, creativity and developing entrepreneurship.


  1. Varina Wooster on

    In almost every state, architectural statutes have exemptions for single family homes or duplexes, and for some light commercial buildings. In fact, the vast majority of houses in the United States were not designed by architects. Many, if not most, people are unaware of the profession of building designer, whose practitioners specialize in residential and light commercial buildings. The national association for the profession is the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD). Much like our architect colleagues, Certified Professional Building Designers (CPBD) have passed a rigorous examination, submitted samples of their work for evaluation, and must earn continuing education credits every year to maintain their certification. I am a CPBD, and also a past national president of the AIBD.

    Here is a link to a short, cute video explaining what a CPBD is and does.

  2. A certification and a license are very different things.

    Building designers *might* be certified, but they definitely not licensed.

    ALL architects, by definition, are licensed.

    To imply that building designers and Architects are on equal footing in regard to education, examination, etc., is to grossly overlook more than a few things.

    This article is about the role of the Architect. Not the building designer. If past history is any indication, designers will be showcased in a future issue of the Cascade Business Journal.

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