“7 Houses” at The Center for Architecture

7 Houses
April 23 – 29, 10am-5pm Sun-Sat
May 1 – August 30, 10am-5pm Mon-Thurs
The Center for Architecture
403 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

The Center for Architecture is pleased to announce 7 HOUSES, an exhibition that explores the state of Pacific Northwest contemporary architecture through the lens of seven houses by seven Portland architects.

The exhibition will feature projects by the award winning firms, Allied Works, Architecture Building Culture, Architecture W, Holst, Hennebery Eddy Architects, Waechter Architecture and Works Progress Architecture.

7 Houses Opening Party will take place Friday, April 21, 6-8pm as part of Design Week Portland.


The Houses:

Karuna House
Holst Architecture
Karuna House is an ambitious sustainable design project that was designed to meet a combination of the world’s most demanding green building certifications; it is the first building in the world to earn the Passive House (PHIUS+), MINERGIE -P-ECO, and LEED for Homes Platinum certifications together.

Located on the southern slope of a mountain overlooking the Willamette Valley’s rich wine region, Karuna House provides spectacular views of Mt. Hood and the Cascade Range to the east. Two towers anchor Karuna House to the earth, marking the location of double-height spaces and vertical circulation.

Karuna House boasts superior thermal comfort, solidity, and quiet created by the structure’s super-insulated construction, yet it maintains an indoor-outdoor connection through a continuous supply of fresh air, natural daylighting, and views to the surrounding landscape via high performance windows.


Tower House
Waechter Architecture
Our clients came to us with a narrow and steep city lot that previously had been considered “unbuildable.” The challenge was to build a cost effective house on a narrow, steeply sloping site that took advantage of the views while maintaining privacy within. We designed a tower house that touches the ground lightly to reduce foundation costs, fits within the narrow lot constraints and minimizes the environmental impact to the remaining site. Picture windows and loggias frame dramatic views of the city while maintaining privacy within the house.

The Tower House is conceived as 3 main rooms (Living, Dining and Bedroom) floating loosely in a tubular shaped building skin or “sleeve.” These are the dominant rooms of the house. They are tall, generous volumes of space finished with oil rubbed quarter sawn white oak.

The cladding of the house is seen as a sleeve, as if it were a stretchable garment pulled down tight over the structure. It is made of black vertical corrugated steel with rounded corners eliminating the need for corner trim. It is a continuous, uninterrupted surface punctuated only by the window openings and loggias.

Between the 3 main rooms and the exterior sleeve of the house, the spaces take on a cellular structure, adjusting to fit functional requirements while keeping within the space provided. Stairs, bathrooms and closets are the building blocks of this interstitial space. These rooms have an intimate scale with a sense of being tucked away, hidden and private.


Bowstring Truss House
Works Progress Architecture
This private residence and studio was adapted from a 5,000 sf former warehouse and awning fabricator’s shop. The space is clear-spanned by a series of four bowstring trusses and exposed roof framing. The intent of the design was to maintain the vast trussed ceiling and the open floor plane, while inserting a flexible residential program where the clients could live and work. The result manages both scales simultaneously: a sense of the expanse of the entire structure as well as scaled discrete living areas.

A strategy was adopted for inserting the program into the shell in a loose arrangement of programmed “boxes“. We felt that the five trusses provided more than enough meter for the space. In order to allow a sense of the “whole”, a pixelated subset of elements could create a broad spectrum of both public and private spaces while never competing with the recognizable order of the roof.

A new environment was created; the resident couple occupy a space among the elements that support the home and studio, interior and exterior, a simplified terrain between earth and sky. A free pattern of new skylights create a constellation of light and discrete pools of sun.

At the center of the house, the groundscape and the roofscape align to form a central courtyard—a vitrine of nature, and a vessel to capture the elusive Pacific Northwest light. The program begins as a whole then breaks apart; elements find their place like tectonic plates settling into stationary position. The gaps between the masses become discreet spaces residing in the absence. Rather than a cellular plan of defined function, the residents live among the elements.


Hennebery Eddy Architects
Ash+Ash is a single-family residence constructed on an infill lot in an established urban neighborhood on the flank of Mt. Tabor in Portland, Oregon. The location offers quick access to bus transit, light rail, bike routes, and car sharing. The neighborhood is an eclectic mix of structures from the early 1900s to present day. The owners wished to create a serene place to live in the City, engage the landscape, and provide a range of outdoor porches and terraces that could be used at different times of day and respond to Portland’s dynamic weather.

Ash+Ash is a visually striking building that has become a landmark in the community and an ambassador for high performance contemporary architecture. The choice of both exterior and interior materials, including white stucco, with a nod to the 1930s Portland, and extensive use of natural cedar, reinforces Ash+Ash’s place in Oregon.

Portland, while lauded as an environmental leader, is burdened with periodic water shortages, large amounts of electric power sourced from non-renewable combustion, storms that still occasionally overwhelm the combined sewers and overflow into the Willamette River, and crippling traffic congestion. Key ecological responses for Ash+Ash were to reduce reliance on urban systems, achieve energy self-sufficiency through conservation and renewable sources, aspire to water self-sufficiency, establish habitat, and to support a lifestyle crafted around walking and cycling, and driving less. Innovation was found through intentional design at every level, synergy between systems, and embracing the ideals of modern architecture, sustainable design, and craft with the same finesse.

Prior to completion, the owner hosted the AIA Portland COTE Chapter and shortly after completion the 2014 Portland Modern Home Tour, opening the residence to over 400 visitors. It has been a meeting site for the boards of the Northwest Earth Institute and the Architecture Foundation of Oregon.


M House
Architecture W
Located in one of Nagoya’s (Japan) more attractive residential neighborhoods, but with only 2.5 meters of dead end street access and set on a difficult site that steps down from this access level a total of 7 meters, m house is designed to both address the site conditions that rendered the site “unbuildable” by the local real estate community and provide for a simple, modern act of architecture that at once confronted the landscape and at the same time became liberated from it.

In addition to the challenge provided by the site itself, the house also addresses the conceptual challenges of planning for a multi generational/multi national family, as well the even bigger challenge of securing precious views, sunlight, and breezes in the context of a cramped traditional Japanese neighborhood. Despite the difficulty in accessing and actually building on the site, it was the property’s one redeeming feature – its location at the edge of a cliff that hovers over the northern part of Nagoya – that inspired the design of the house.


Lander Cabin
Architecture Building Culture
The Lander Cabin is located on the eastern shore of Indian Arm, a deep salt water glacial fjord near the city of Vancouver in British Columbia. The steep-sided fjord was formed during the last Ice Age and extends north from Burrard Inlet, between the communities of Belcarra and North Vancouver on into mountainous wilderness. There are no crossings and road access is limited north of the southern communities where the shoreline is primarily accessed from the water as the steep mountain slopes are impassable. Development is very limited despite the areas proximity to a major city.


Dutchess County Guest House
Allied Works Architecture
The Dutchess County Estate is a suite of buildings and landscapes completed for a prominent New York family on their 400-acre estate in the Hudson River Valley. The estate contains diverse terrain, including rolling hills, open meadows and dense hardwood forest. Each project was designed to explore, respond to and amplify the beauty of its surroundings and specific context.

The Dutchess County Guest House was the first of these to be built, on a site chosen by Allied Works to test ideas and set the tone for future works, and provide accommodation for notable guests from the art world.

Balanced on the slopes above Ryder Creek, the Guest House is located in a mature forest of oak, hickory, and birch. It is a place of silence, reflection and intimacy, reached by a long path from the main clearing. The house itself is defined by a continuous, blackened steel frame that weaves through the woods and understory, blurring the boundaries between forest and dwelling. Panels of mahogany and floor-to-ceiling glass slip between, over, and through the frame as it meanders among the trees, leaving terraces and voids as spaces of transition and connection. The house is an ideal place to escape the pressures of the city, and a platform for experiencing nature and the dramatic change of seasons.

About the Center for Architecture

The Center for Architecture is committed to the transformative power of design. Through collaboration with communities, thought leaders, and professionals, the Center for Architecture works to catalyze action to address the most challenging issues of the 21st century.

The Center for Architecture is an Oregon non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to advancing public understanding and appreciation of architecture, design, urban planning and the role of the built environment in our quality of life. It was founded in 2008 by the Portland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects [AIA Portland], and is located in the heart of Portland’s internationally celebrated Pearl District.

The CFA serves as a cultural venue and resource for everyone interested in the built environment – offering an extensive calendar of special events, exhibitions, presentations, architectural walking tours, and films. The original structure, built in 1880, has been transformed into a highly sustainable facility that both inspires and sustains an on-going dialogue about architecture and design!


This exhibit is made possible with support from Precision Images, Hoffman Construction, and AIA Portland.


Cover and collage images courtesy The Center for Architecture.  Ash+Ash image courtesy Josh Partee Photography.