Student Tour of Amazon Corner

Ken Hutchinson of Rowell Brokaw and Andy Driscoll of Essex Construction lead a tour of Amazon Corner for University of Oregon architecture students. Amazon Corner is a 120,000 sf mixed-use apartment building in South Eugene. This 4-over-1 building has four floors of wood framed construction above ground floor and second floor post-tensioned concrete slabs.

Tykeson Hall Featured in Register-Guard

Model by Office 52

Note: Rowell Brokaw is the executive architect for Tykeson Hall.

Article in the Register-Guard

By Saul Hubbard
The Register-Guard
October 13, 2017

The University of Oregon is preparing to build a major new student advising and career center at the heart of its campus.

The $39 million building, named after the late Eugene businessman Don Tykeson and his wife, Willie, who contributed $10 million, also will include six classrooms and house the College of Arts and Sciences administrative offices on its upper floors.

Tykeson Hall’s key ­purpose is to place a significant number of the UO’s existing ­academic and career advisers in a ­central location to make those services more ­accessible for ­undergraduates, said ­Andrew Marcus, dean of the College of Arts and ­Sciences.

Under the current, fragmented system, “students pretty quickly give up and just start talking to one other,” he said. “They don’t realize the services that are available to them.”

Construction on ­Tykeson Hall is expected to ­begin in December and last until the start of the 2019 academic year.

The building, designed by Portland firm Office 52, will feature “classic campus architecture” with “modern, spacious design,” according to UO officials.

It will total 64,000 square feet across five floors, including a below-ground level. The original plan was for a less expensive, 50,000-square-foot building, but it was expanded, at UO ­President Michael Schill’s direction, to provide more classroom and student advising space.

The new building will be wedged between Johnson Hall, the red brick home of the UO’s administration, and Chapman Hall, the hub of the school’s honors college, which is undergoing a $10.5 million renovation.

Tykeson Hall will replace a 42-spot parking lot now used by UO administrators. The university already has built a new, smaller replacement parking lot for administrators on the other side of Johnson Hall. “I don’t think students will even be aware the parking lot is gone,” Marcus said.

Noise during construction may prove disruptive; however, university officials warn, given the site’s central location near lots of classrooms and offices.

In addition to the Tykesons’ gift, the UO received $17 million in bonds from the Legislature in 2015 and other ­donations ­totaling $6.4 million. That leaves the ­university $5.6 million short of the ­project’s expected ­price tag, but Marcus said he doesn’t anticipate ­trouble plugging the gap.

The university hopes to use the building’s ­classrooms as a magnet for students and expose them to advisers available to them. The UO will schedule introductory composition and math classes, taken by about 9,000 students a year, for Tykeson Hall. “Just like in a grocery stores you put eggs and milk in the back of the store so that people have to walk through the aisles and look at the potato chips on the way there, we have classrooms to draw students into this building,” Marcus said.

Funnily enough, UO’s Tykeson Hall won’t be the only building with that name at an Oregon public university. The first academic building at Oregon State University’s Cascades Campus in Bend, which opened last year, also goes by Tykeson Hall. The Tykeson family has been a longtime supporter of OSU’s satellite campus project.

Andersen Construction Performs the Impossible

During a planned power outage for the Pacific Hall renovation to replace the rooftop electrical transformer this weekend, the Pacific team encountered a serious problem. When power was transferred to backup Friday evening around 6pm and the old transformer removed, it was discovered that the steel structure under the platform supporting the existing transformer was nothing like the as-builts the design team had been working from. The original plan to modify the existing structure to accommodate the new, 40% heavier transformer no longer made sense.

From 7pm to 2am that night, Austin Bailey, John Rowell, and Matt Travis of Rowell Brokaw and Ed Quesenberry of Equilibrium Engineers worked with Mike Wold, Dan Porovich, and Wendell Dietrich of Andersen Construction to modify the design on the fly. The solution ultimately required structural reinforcing/modification of some of the existing steel members and coordinating with Andersen Construction what could actually be built in and around the existing conditions. What should have taken roughly 6 hours of steel modification ended up requiring about 24 hours of continuous cutting, grinding, and welding. The Andersen crew put in a tremendous amount of effort and work with carpenters Brad Hellesto and Rob Hansen working through the night to complete the additional modifications.

Dozens of electricians from OEG were on-site throughout the weekend. Working on shifts 24/7 to complete multiple new equipment installations and to restore power by Monday morning. Because of the platform modifications, the new transformer reached the roof about 10 hours later than had been intended. However, because of the combined effort of Andersen Construction and OEG, they were able to gain back that time through Saturday night and Sunday.

Thanks to everyone involved in overcoming the challenges of this weekend! It’s wonderful to be a part of such a resourceful and committed team.

Grand Opening of the Arts & Technology Academy

Superintendent Gustavo Balderas, 4J board members, and Principal Larry Williams with the ceremonial ribbon

The grand opening of the Eugene 4J Arts & Technology Academy at the Jefferson Middle School featured a ribbon cutting, student performances, and architectural tours of the building. The design of the new building supports ATA’s innovative STEM program, which integrates science, technology, engineering, and math into the curriculum in hands-on, real-world ways. For a more in-depth explanation of the design, see the brochure we created for the event:

Construction Underway at Jefferson Library

After seven years of passionate fundraising, the Jefferson Library is under construction. Adjacent to the City Hall, the library will serve its growing population's needs, offering multi-media services and a civic meeting room. 

Mentoring the Future

John Rowell spent the last couple of weeks mentoring Phillip Bindeman, a senior at South Eugene High School. Phillip shadowed John, observing all that goes into his job as a Principal. He says of his experience, “I had an image of architecture as people drawing all the time. I realize now it’s a lot more social than I thought. There are lots of meetings, especially for John and Greg. Even though I didn’t understand half of what the architects said in those meetings, I enjoyed my time here. I look forward to understanding what they said in the future.” When asked if he still wants to be an architect after the experience, Phillip said, “It’s a lot of work, but, yes, definitely.” He has applied to several technical colleges, including University of Oregon and Oregon State University.

RB Summer Party in Dexter

RB celebrates another great year as a firm at the annual summer party. This year the party was in Dexter, OR.

The Saga of Sawdust: Creating a Wall of Sawdust for the Roseburg Forest Products Headquarters

Early in the design phase of the Roseburg Forest Products (RFP) project, Rowell Brokaw travelled with the RFP design team to the DIRTT headquarters in Calgary, Canada. Since 2003, DIRTT has been creating innovative modular wall systems. During their visit, the design team saw a glass wall full of lemons that DIRTT had created for Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Initially, they joked about making the equivalent for Roseburg Forest Products: a wall of sawdust to represent the company’s goal to have “sawdust in the veins.” But as the design for the new headquarters developed, the joke started to gain credence until the wall of sawdust became part of the design. “The more we talked about the idea,” Britni Jessup of RB recounted, “the more we realized that it represented more than an architectural feature—it represented who RFP is and a message to their employees and visitors about their history and their values.”

The design team selected DIRTT’s “Evil Twin” wall, in which one of the glass panels must mirror, despite its wishes, the other panel’s position. Everyone was worried about dust, moisture and living things becoming sealed in the wall. The wood chips came directly from the mill floor in Roseburg. “Imagine if there was a hatch within the wall,” Britni explained, “it would be hard to fix and would cause serious problems. Gordon Rea at McKenzie Commercial did a series of mock-ups to find a solution we were all comfortable with.” The following method turned out to work: dry Roseburg Forest Products’ wood chips and sawdust in an old clothes dryer, spread the dry and clean wood chips and sawdust on a plastic sheet, apply countless layers of lacquer, fill glass panels with wood chips and sawdust through a giant funnel of cardboard lined with slippery craft paper, and finally angle and ease panels up into their locking position within the wall.

The wall took days to install: it took three guys to take a panel off and mess with the sawdust height before locking it back in place. Britni created a line of blue tape to help with the heights. In the final design, the sawdust made a continuous, undulating line between six glass panels. The wall is now one of the signature features of the entry at the headquarters. Employees and visitors alike can actually see the sawdust in RFP's veins.

For more on the sawdust wall and the innovations of the DIRTT wall system, read the following article featured in officeinsight, an online magazine that focuses on workplace design and furnishings: 

Watching the eclipse from the RB rooftop

Peter Utsey and Nicola Fucigna climbed up on the office roof to experience the solar eclipse. Many other Eugenians had the same idea. Kesey square also had a small crowd of solar gazers. Note the streetlights coming on at 10:17 in the morning.

South Hills House Construction Underway

Project architect Frank Visconti and landscape architect Lorri Nelson go over details with Wilbur Burge, project manager for 2G Construction. The South Hills House is taking shape: concrete retaining walls and foundation have been poured, the wood formwork will come down soon, and the footprint is starting to be framed.

RB Staff visit their soon-to-be home at 1203 Willamette

RB staff envision their open office in Creative Midtown at 1203 Willamette. The plan includes new skylights, a gypcrete floor system, exposed wood roof framing and board formed concrete walls, and a REHAU window system on the second floor exterior.

Drone Pics of Midtown Creative

Renovation moving forward at Midtown Creative, a mixed-use office and retail building at 1203 Willamette Street.

This will be the third substantial remodel since the original building’s construction in 1942 and expansion in 1946. A goal of the current remodel is to expose the structure, including the existing wood columns, wood ceiling joists, and board formed concrete walls. Structural upgrades, such as glulam beams, have been added to the 36,000-square-foot building. The west elevation facing Willamette Street will be storefront, windows, and wood finishes.

Work on the roof has already begun. Essex General Construction is removing the existing roof and replacing it with a new single-ply membrane roof. They are removing the mechanical system and installing new HVAC units on the roof. Skylights will also be added.

The core and shell portion of the building is scheduled to be completed in the fall.

Soft Opening of Hot Mama’s Kitchen+Bar

RB Staff enjoyed some wings and drinks at the soft opening of Hot Mama’s Kitchen+Bar in Oakway Center. The new space has a 12-seat teak wood bar, a 90-seat dining room, a 40-seat mezzanine level, and a 20-seat outdoor area.

For more on Hot Mama’s new restaurant:

Interview with Frank Visconti, President Elect of the AIA Southwestern Oregon Chapter (AIA-SWO)


When were you elected and how long will you serve?
I was elected in January 2017 by the current president Katie Hall. I’ve been involved in the AIA since 1991. I served on the board of directors in Florida in 1991 and in New York in 2004. The position is really three years: the first year, you shadow the current president; then you are the president; then the next year, the next president shadows you.

What does the job entail?
Planning out all the events for the year at the local chapter and overseeing communications with the state and national AIA components. We’re voting members of the state AIA, so we have more exposure to the state and national organization. I went to Washington, DC, in April 2017 for a grassroots conference attended by hundreds of directors of all the different chapters in the country. We were there to see policy progress and meet with state legislatures to discuss important items of the year. This year there was a lot of attention on urban development, improving cities through codes and good design, and advocating for the architect’s role as part of the design of cities. We are also working to reorganize Oregon AIA into a single chapter for a more cohesive organization. Many states have successfully done this over the last five years.

What exciting things are you doing?
Locally, we have been working on the competition for parklets in downtown Eugene. It’s being installed this weekend; winning teams are finishing up their installations over the weekend. The opening is this Sunday during the Eugene Sunday Streets event. The mayor will be selecting a “mayor’s choice” design. The City of Eugene and the AIA have worked on this as a partnership. The City gave $10,000 to AIA-SWO to make this happen as an annual investment back into the city through art programs. The money was raised from Parking Services with additional sponsors from the downtown area.

How does practicing in Oregon compare to practicing in New York?
It’s a smaller community. You feel more connected to people. There is an unfathomable amount of members in the city and it’s a lot less grassroots!

Has being AIA president elect changed your relationship to Eugene and Springfield?
I feel more connected. I’m still in the process of meeting lots of people, networking, and understanding the community of design professionals and policy makers.

Any advice for upcoming professionals?
Join the AIA! It’s a really good organization. You can get as much or as little as you want out of it. It’s there for everybody. And they have a very impressive building in DC.

Eugene mourns the passing of philanthropist Don Tykeson

Don Tykeson, a communications pioneer, died July 12 in Eugene. He was a philanthropic leader in education, the arts, science, and health. As an alumnus of the University of Oregon, he has been a committed advocate for UO students and faculty. Most recently, he and his wife Willie donated $10 million toward student success in the liberal arts. The result is the Tykeson Hall College and Careers Building.

To learn more about Don Tykeson’s life:

Progress at Amazon Corner

Image from June 22, 2017

Construction is moving along at Amazon Corner, a mixed-use apartment building at 32nd Avenue and Hilyard Street in South Eugene. Construction has come a long way since the formwork and concrete placement in the basement level in late June. Enjoy these drone pics and close-ups, courtesy of Essex General Construction.

Welcome Nicola Fucigna!



Nicola recently joined Rowell Brokaw as both a Marketing Coordinator and Designer. She brings to the firm strong writing, communication, and design skills. Nicola has extensive experience in publishing and teaching. As an Editor-In-Chief of the online literary magazine Construction, she edits a column on architecture. Her appreciation of independent publishing led her to positions at Copper Canyon Press, Graywolf Press, Kore Press, and the Sonora Review. Her poetry has been published in several literary magazines, including Camas: The Nature of the WestCapitalism Nature Socialism, and The Nervous Breakdown. She enjoys the attention to detail and precision of copyediting. She particularly valued copyediting for Uncommon Union, a multimedia communications firm in NYC that focuses on international justice. She has taught poetry at the University of Oregon and the University of Arizona. While living in Chile, she taught EFL to students in a professional school.

After growing up between Washington, DC, and Colorado, Nicola graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College/Columbia University, with a B.A. in English and a minor in Art History. She has an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Arizona and recently received her M.Arch from the University of Oregon.

Ems Game

RB Staff enjoyed the Eugene Emeralds ball game with Andersen Construction. Sluggo came over to say hi.