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?

As a lover of literature and an advocate for social equity, I can’t help but be enamored and deeply humbled by the efforts of Portland’s Street Librarians, Laura Moulton and Sue Zalokar, to address this question. Their library, Street Books, is a “bicycle-powered mobile library, serving people who live outside,” here in our fair city. Street Books is coming upon its two-year anniversary this spring, and has checked out hundreds of paperback books to many people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a simple pleasure that many of us take for granted – reading for enjoyment and/or self-improvement, maybe even a temporary escape from reality.

During the last (nearly) two years, Street Books has evolved from a hopeful and optimistic experiment to a well-used library whose collection has grown so much it now requires an additional storage space – generously donated by Ecotrust. And beyond physically lending books, the act of engaging in human contact – through conversation and literature – with a population often ignored, makes Street Books a perfect example of the “community space” we strive to create with our designs of library buildings.

The ultimate goal of our design work here at THA is to positively affect society, from the community level right down to the individual level. In that sense, I see Street Books as a great reminder for us to continue to deeply consider the humans our designs impact – even, perhaps, those they exclude.

I, for one, am grateful to Street Books for filling in the gaps that our library buildings sometimes leave.

This short film tells the story more aptly than any words can hope to:

Photo: Courtesy of Street Books

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Farewell, Balfour-Guthrie Building

by Jonah Cohen

After 16 years, Hacker has vacated the Balfour-Guthrie Building and moved to its next iteration, which in many ways is a perfect symbol for our successful leadership transition that has taken place over the last five years. This is an emotional milestone for a few of us, especially me.

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Cultivating a New Generation of Leaders

by Stefee Knudsen

How do we cultivate our future leaders? It’s a core question for educators and one that ultimately influences the design of schools. Two projects in Portland, the Oregon Episcopal School’s Lower School and the French American International School’s new Gilkey International Middle School, illustrate how new environments can help to advance institutional missions.

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Hackers = Makers

by Scott Barton-Smith

If you’ve been to Hacker’s office in the past year and a half, you probably noticed art on the walls of our building’s vestibule and reception area. This rotating Makers exhibit showcases the off-hours work of our multi-talented team. By day we are architects, interior designers, and talented support personnel; by night we are artists. What began as a desire to exhibit some of our creative endeavors outside of work has turned into an amazing get-to-know-you. Every couple of months, a new batch of artistic expression graces our walls and gives us insight into our colleagues’ broad talents, inspiration, and personalities. Twelve Hackers have already displayed their art since October 2015 and there is no sign of it stopping! Scroll through for a sampling…

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Hacker Builds!

by Garrett Martin

Our website typically shows you beautiful photos of our completed projects, or equally beautiful renderings of our projects “on the boards.” Have you ever wondered what happens in-between, or when those renderings will finally take actual form? Despite how it may appear sometimes, it all doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye or under cover of darkness.

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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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Nurturing Growth in Lents Town Center

by Garrett Martin

On Sunday October 23rd of last year, we joined Bremik Construction and the Portland Development Commission to strike golden shovels into the ground and begin construction on the 9101 SE Foster project, a mixed-use multi-family building in the heart of Lents Town Center.

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Why Hacker Started Paying for Parental Leave

by Sarah Bell

This year, Hacker implemented a new paid parental leave policy, covering six weeks at full salary for birth mothers and about four and ½ weeks full salary for a spouse of the parent who gives birth (adoptive parents get the same). This is in addition to the flexible paid time off granted to every Hacker employee.

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A Saturday with Lou

by Scott Barton-Smith

Nearly half of the Hacker team caravanned north to attend the final day of the Bellevue Arts Museum’s retrospective Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture on April 30th. Although the exhibit includes video interviews of notable architects enthusing Kahn’s work, we had a more interactive guide. Our firm founder Thom Hacker gave us a personalized tour of the exhibit, which includes several projects on which Thom collaborated with his mentor “Lou.” The exhibit features many models and drawings prepared by Kahn’s office spanning projects from the Esherick House to more well know works like The Salk Institute, The Kimbell Art Museum, and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka. The exhibit even includes a full scale reproduction of the famous window seat designed for the Fisher house. Much of this material has not seen the light of day since Kahn’s death and it is remarkable that the large yet delicate cardboard, clay, and wood models survived.

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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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From the Vaults: High Desert Museum

by Sarah Bell

When the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon’s New Home had its dedication last year, I drove to Bend for the day with my two youngest boys, who were both under 5 years old. I arrived several hours before the dedication with both boys needing to expend energy built up over the 3-hour car ride. Not having planned on it, I took them to the High Desert Museum – not because I wanted to show them a Hacker building, but because I knew it would wear them out.

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