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.

Another motivation for my attendance was to practice talking more in the language of a building owner and less like an architect. Phrases like “blend and extend” and “You can’t manage if you’re not measuring” were uttered in almost every session. Also continually heard were terms like Net Present Value, 10 CAP, MSA, CAM, etc. I know every industry requires its own jargon – architecture included – but it seems more important now than ever to understand the language of our clients and their investors. And when they say, “Take everything from a development proforma pre-2008 and throw it out forever,” we should be paying close attention. When they talk about decreasing office space per person from 325 square feet to 100 or even 80, architects should be integral in the conversation about massive space transformation already underway. Much attention was given to claims that 50% of office workstations are only occupied 50% of the time of a normal work day.

“More with Less”

This mantra of “more with less” is many current building owners’ twist on an expression known very well to architects – one that we can really work with. I left the event with several questions about the economy of means and how it could be a positive for designers and the environment:

  • How can architects design the denser office environments that save both rent and construction costs, as well as resources, without workers feeling cramped or disturbed?
  • How can we balance collaborative work models and office serendipity with the need for some acoustic privacy for focused and effective work?
  • How can we ensure that sustainable design will actually result in decreased day-to-day operating costs as well as increased income and higher long-term building value for our clients?
  • Can architects leverage space- and energy-saving technology while also being sensitive to human nature?
  • Can architects become versed enough in current building finance to offer valuable services to clients beyond the scope of design documentation?

In short: Can we consider the cautious economic recovery as a positive design challenge to do More with Less?

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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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Designing for Design Schools: What type of collaboration space works?

by Becca Cavell

We’re excited to be working right now with UC Davis on the renovation of the north wing of Cruess Hall – a rather industrial 1950s building that will house screening rooms, labs, and maker spaces for the Cinema & Digital Media and Industrial Design programs. Some of these spaces will be quite industrial themselves, and seem a fitting use for the currently vacant building.  As we begin to look for case studies to inform our work, our client shared this video from Stanford’s D-School, showing 10 days in the life of the D’s central collaboration space. It’s time-lapse, and takes just four minutes to view – and it demonstrates how a very utilitarian space can be the beating heart of an institution if you plan it right, furnish it right, and relax a bit.

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Denny Hall Finally Gets Its Due

by Stephanie Shradar

At the University of Washington, Denny Hall has been awaiting revitalization for nearly a decade. During that time, Hacker has been working on and off again to get UW the final product. The project has gone through funding stalls and starts; the design firm has gone through two name changes; and the building has patiently awaited its new core.

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