I recently ran across this article from SustainableBusiness.com – Which Universities Are the Greenest? – featuring Sierra Club’s annual “Cool Schools” ranking. I was surprised to see only one Pacific Northwest higher education institution on the list, but happy that Portland’s Lewis & Clark College ranked Number 5. As Lewis & Clark is one of THA’s earliest academic clients, reading this article inspired me to write about our early work there for our next From the Vaults post.
In 1996, THA completed the three-building “Signature Project” on Lewis & Clark’s campus. As with our first From the Vaults post, the Signature Project came to THA as a result of a national design competition (1993). The project consists of three buildings – a humanities building, arts facility, and an addition to the College’s mid-century Paul Thiry library – grouped around a circular plaza.
Lewis & Clark College is located on the former Frank Estate, built in the 1920s. A study in simplicity, THA’s winning entry evokes the historic style of the original Manor House and landmark garden. The buildings and their relationship to each other grow out of the geometry and spirit of the original estate. In February of 1997, then Oregonian architecture critic Randy Gragg wrote, “In all of Portland it would be hard to find a better symbol for our architectural hopes than the newly christened Signature Project at Lewis & Clark College…as an ensemble it is a work of urban design from which the city as a whole might learn.”
I want to tie this back to Lewis & Clark being one of the nation’s greenest colleges. The Signature Project was a few years before the LEED® rating system was born, but in a post-occupancy evaluation of the project performed with the College, we calculated it would have easily been LEED certified. Even in the early 1990s, Lewis & Clark was way ahead of the curve with their approach to sustainable development. The next project we completed for them was Howard Hall for Social Sciences, which was the first LEED Gold academic building in Oregon. Of course, we take zero credit for Lewis & Clark’s “Cool Schools” ranking – that is a result of their superior academic environmental programs and their educational mission to cultivate global thinkers and leaders. But we are honored to have been a part of building their campus and housing these amazing programs and people.