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What Pro Bono Work Has Taught Us

by Audrey Alverson

Pro bono architecture: Why do we do it?

Hacker has long been a signatory of the 1+ Program, which challenges designers to dedicate 1% or more of their time to pro bono service – but through trial and error over the years, we often found it challenging to bring this work to fruition. After a few fits and starts, and some mostly small-scale projects and studies, last year we decided to put some teeth to our commitment to pro bono service. Through this process, we’ve learned that the problem was never a lack of desire or good intentions, but more so a lack of planning.

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UW Bothell Science Building – Revealed!

by Audrey Alverson

Check out this great time-lapse video of the scaffolding coming down from our University of Washington Bothell Science & Academic Building. The project is expected to be complete in the spring, and open for classes Fall of 2014.

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University of Wyoming Visual Arts Facility Wins COTE Award

by Nic Smith

Hacker is a proud recipient of a 2016 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects award for University of Wyoming’s Visual Arts Facility (VAF), a pioneering LEED Platinum facility that has shaped a new approach to health, safety, and sustainability in arts education. The 80,000-SF building consolidates the University’s fine arts program from its scattered locations, establishing a central component of the campus’s new arts district. It also marks a turning point in the campus’s thinking about environmental responsibility. Read more

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Today’s Library: Flexibility Required

by Laura Klinger

Library services are changing quickly. Advances in technology are affecting the ways people want to connect to information and culture. The shift of emphasis to online resources over hardcopies, the growth of mobile technologies and changing models of studying and learning are pushing libraries to provide a memorable patron experience. In order to stay relevant, libraries must embrace technology, be future thinking and excite and inspire their visitors.

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They’re Not Buildings, They’re “Assets”

by Scott Mannhard

In the spirit of our continual pursuit of authentic sustainability, I headed to the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International conference in Seattle recently to hear directly from owners, operators and managers about what is important to them. These people must deal with their buildings – I mean “assets” – long after their architects have moved on to other projects. The owners and managers know what energy efficiency measures actually work to save both money and resources. They know if LEED certification was an important factor or not in reducing vacancy in their building. They hear first-hand what prospective tenants expect and require when leasing or renewing space. Given this abundance of information about how buildings are actually performing for people, it was remarkable to see so few other architects there to participate in the discussion.

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The Portland Building Debate Circuit Continues

by Becca Cavell

It’s time to follow up on my earlier piece about the Portland Building. Peter Meijer and I publically debated the fate of the building for the first time over a year ago, at the Docomomo Symposium in Florida. Since then we’ve reprised our face-off three times in front of live audiences – in Portland and Hood River – and we had the pleasure of sparring gently on the radio courtesy of KBOO’s ArtFocus show as part of a longer program that addressed a couple of other local landmarks too (listen here). We’ve made a point to engage the audience in the discussion whenever we can, and along this journey I’ve learned a lot of things about the building and people’s attitudes towards it.

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The Perils of “Glitz” in Information Design

by Nic Smith

Last week Edward Tufte, a professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University, visited Portland to give one of his storied courses – Presenting Data and Information. I had the opportunity to take this six-hour course, absorbing all I could from this legend of information design.

The take home message, as old as time itself: Content is key.

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The Library You Haven’t Heard About

by Audrey Alverson

An obvious first step in the process of designing any building is to first define what it is at its core: How will it be used by the people who will spend time in it? As designers of libraries, this is a question THA staff grapple with frequently. Library programs and needs are in a state of flux right now, largely due to ever-evolving technology. The old adage of a library simply being a place to check out books no longer paints the complete picture.

And yet sometimes maybe it’s worth taking a step back – perhaps way back – to the origins of an idea or place, a library in this instance. Regardless of technological changes, libraries are still about information and education – which can and do (at least in part) still come from books.

But what about the homeless population – many of whom don’t have identification and proof of address and therefore can’t use public library services? How can a library serve these people who are pushed to the margins in more ways than we often realize?

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The Great Debate of 2014: What’s next for the Portland Building?

by Audrey Alverson

When I heard Michael Graves would be in Portland to discuss the Portland Building, there was no question that I would be there. I was excited to gain perspective on this oft maligned and (most recently) hotly debated City building directly from its designer, and I knew this would be a quality production, with Randy Gragg (not one for shying away from the tough questions) as the facilitator.

After introductions, Graves started with a presentation of his body of work – immense as it is. Randy stated clearly he wanted to give some context to the audience’s perception of Graves and what he has done beyond the Portland Building. I appreciated this because knowing Randy, I assumed it was a little bit of a dig at the Portland public’s derision of Graves. Maybe we didn’t all have enough information to criticize so harshly?

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THA Field Trip!

by Daniel Childs

Last week, our entire office got to step away from our desks, hop on a bus, and take an all-day field trip to see some of THA’s finished projects. We were fortunate to have most of our Principals on board, including THA’s founding principal, Thom Hacker (and his wife, Margaret). Without email, Revit, or ringing phones, it was nice to spend time with co-workers outside of our project teams and daily office rituals.

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