The Palomino Blackwing 602

Architects are passionate about pens and pencils: their heft, smoothness, mark. For many, they hold a talismanic power. After heated debate in the office, the Palomino Blackwing 602 has emerged as a staff favorite.

Invented in 1934 by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, the Blackwing 602 has gained a kind of cult status. With its catchy slogan “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed” and its, according to Wikipedia, “unique softness and smoothness of a 3B/4B lead but with the rate-of-wear of an HB,” the Blackwing 602 became the pencil of choice for many artists. To name a few: animators Chuck Jones (think Bugs Bunny) and Don Bluth (of Disney fame); writers John Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, and E.B. White; and composers Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, and Aaron Copland. Even John Lennon was rumored to use a Blackwing 602. In the late 1990s after the machine that made the metal clip for the ferrule and eraser broke, the Blackwing 602 was discontinued. Prices surged. On eBay originals went for over $50. Luckily, in 2011 the Blackwing 602 was brought back on the market. Palamino, a division of the California Cedar Products Company, bought the brand.

Ever wonder how a pencil is made? Here’s an article from the New York Times with vivid pictures and a video from the General Pencil Company on the History Channel.

Live Web Cam of UO Tykeson Hall

Over winter break at the University of Oregon, Fortis Construction began to excavate the site for Tykeson Hall. They jump-started this process in order to minimize disruptions on campus. Now excavation has been completed and work on the foundation will begin. For live updates on construction, see the College of Arts and Sciences' website. Their menu also has a link for construction time-lapses.

Shadow Mentor Day 2018

As part of UO’s shadow mentor day, Mark Young hosted Paul Turner, a first-year undergraduate in the architecture department. The mentor day pairs students with professionals throughout Eugene, Portland, and Seattle. Students experience a “day in the life” or an actual work day in an actual work setting. At Rowell Brokaw, Mark walked Paul through some of his current projects, including Tykeson Hall. After sitting in on an engineering meeting with PAE, Paul circulated around the office to understand the range of work and experience other roles and perspectives. He also donned a headset and walked through RB's future office at 1203 Willamette. We hope Paul will come visit us again when we are in an intentional office rather than an inherited one. We also hope he got a sense of our office culture, which we think of as informal and passionate. At the end of his visit, Paul asked Mark some provocative questions:

P: What would you say to your younger self?

M: It’s a badge of honor for architecture students to say how much they’ve stayed up and worked, but when you’re in the profession and you have families, you learn to be more efficient while doing better quality work. You get more experience and you learn how to manage your time and thoughts more constructively. It makes sense when you’re starting out that you don’t know what you need to have and more always seems better. And there still is this weird architecture culture, this rite of passage, that permeates through school and some offices. You do have to be hardworking to be an architect; it’s not always 9-5. If there’s a thing to do, you do it. And you're willing to do it because you like your work. But the sweatshop mentality of "the more the better" is often a result of just not being smart with your time. It takes experience. It’s perfectly excusable until you’ve done projects and you know what it takes to deliver a project.

P: What does it take to be an architect?

M: Stay curious and interested. Be open to new ideas and learning.

Storm Damage Repair Projects at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology

A harsh winter storm in 2016 damaged parts of the The Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB), a marine station owned by the University of Oregon and located on 100-acres in Charleston, at the mouth of Coos Bay. RB has been performing roof replacements, road repair, and dock repair. The OIMB offers undergraduate and graduate students an array of courses in marine biology, including marine birds and mammals, the biology of fishes, deep-sea and subtidal ecology, and marine environmental issues. The institute is comprised of teaching laboratories, research facilities, dormitories, the Loyd and Dorothy Rippey Library, and the Charleston Marine Life Center, an aquarium and museum.

Annual UO AIAS Reverse Crit

From left to right: Frank Visconti, Patrick A. McKechnie, Kurt Albrecht, Chuck Bailey, and Nir Pearlson.

Rowell Brokaw participated in this year's Reverse Crit. The event took place at the Hayden Gallery in the University of Oregon's College of Design and was hosted by the UO chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) in partnership with AIA-SWO. Students had the opportunity to turn the tables and weigh in on architects' current, real-world projects. Frank Visconti presented the Eureka Veterans and Homeless Housing project and garnered an award for Spatial Composition.

UO President Michael H. Schill Eloquently Discusses the Importance of Tykeson Hall

President discusses the foundations being laid for the future

Jan. 12, 2018

UO President Michael H. Schill sent the following 'Open Mike' message to the campus community:

Dear colleagues and friends,

As I write this Open Mike, I feel the earth move under my feet. Before you get concerned that I am singing Carole King songs (she is one of my favorites) or having a nightmare about the Cascadia Subduction Zone, you should understand that just outside my office massive trucks and bulldozers are busy breaking ground for the new Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, the college and careers building. Since the start of the term, construction crews have been diligently digging, hammering, and preparing the site for a stunning new building that will open in fall 2019. It is noisy; it is loud; and sometimes it feels like the earth really is moving, but it is all for a great and important cause.

The Tykeson building will not only be placed at a central location on our beautiful campus; in many ways it will serve as a new center of gravity for our efforts connected to the single most important objective we all share—helping our students succeed. It will provide us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to refocus and rethink how we deliver academic and career advising to our students, all under one roof. In addition to adding much-needed office and classroom space to campus, the new building will house College of Arts and Sciences advising services and the UO Career Center. It will provide an integrated approach to advising that will help students consider their career options and then work to devise an academic plan for getting there.

The construction of Tykeson Hall is the latest chapter of the conversation we started three months after I took office about the importance of doing everything we can to enable our students to succeed. So much has happened since I stood in front of campus at the EMU and made the case that on-time graduation promotes a student’s likelihood of earning a diploma and substantially reduces the cost of college. We have already seen modest increases in carrying loads, retention, and graduation rates. While I am pleased that we have made progress, there is much, much more to accomplish.

Over the next year we will work with academic advisors in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence, PathwayOregon, and all the schools and colleges to improve and enhance coordination through creation of a unified academic advising action plan. The important work of improving our student success efforts is being led by Provost Jayanth Banavar and Dennis Galvan, the interim vice provost and dean for undergraduate studies. You can expect to see changes throughout the university to support these efforts in the coming year. We cannot let our decentralized administrative structure stand in the way of our students’ success—and we won’t.

Today’s students need more than just a degree: they need assistance and guidance in landing jobs that meet their needs and aspirations. We owe it to future generations of students and to those who gave to this endeavor to get this right. We must break down silos between administrative divisions and schools to devise the sort of comprehensive resources and advising that will prepare our students for fulfilling careers in a fast-moving and increasingly global economy. In addition, we must create more high-impact opportunities for students to work with the faculty and more avenues for them to gain experiential education, such as internships and study abroad.

While the construction crews are building a strong foundation for the Tykeson building, we must start now to lay the programmatic foundation for long-term success. This is one of my top priorities for 2018....

 I hope you’ll join me in the effort to stay focused on the things that matter most—moving heaven and earth to help our students succeed and building an academic program of distinction.


Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Amazon Corner Construction Update

Construction is moving along at Amazon Corner in South Eugene. Having completed the post-tensioned slabs of the basement and first floor, Essex Construction is installing the wood wall framing for the housing units. Before the weather turned, walls were being pre-fabricated on-site through a makeshift assembly line. Once completed, a stack of walls was lifted by a crane onto the building floor plate and then each wall was tilted into place. Currently, workers are constructing more traditional stud walls. In the installation of the floors, workers are hanging floor joists from the wall framing—a technique that has become standard in Portland. Many structural engineers prefer this method for a host of reasons: it eliminates rim boards, uses less wood product overall, may reduce building height shrinkage, and offers better insulative performance.

Sculpture of Meteorite Installed in Straub Hall Atrium

Artist Garrick Imatani has completed the second phase of his permanent exhibit in the atrium of Straub Hall at the University of Oregon. For phase one, Imatani painted a mural of the Willamette River Basin. For phase two, he installed a sculpture of the Willamette Meteorite. In the development of this project, Imatani was compelled by the meteorite's geologic and human history: “Despite not even being from this planet, this extraterrestrial rock still manages to be a container for the complicated and often fraught politics of this region….”

Roughly 14,000 years ago, the indigenous peoples of the Willamette Valley discovered the meteorite, which had landed in Canada or Montana before, as part of the Missoula Floods, floating down and settling in the Willamette Valley. Tomanowos, or "the visitor from the sky," became a sacred object in tribes' ceremonies. At the turn of the century, the meteorite was rediscovered near West Linn, Oregon, by a settler. After some controversy in ownership, the meteorite was sold to a socialite who ultimately donated it to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City, where it resides today.

Every year members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde travel to the AMNH to conduct private ceremonies with the meteorite. Imatani accompanied members of the tribes to, with their permission, 3D scan the meteorite. The completed sculpture based on these scans now hangs in the center of the atrium at Straub Hall “with,” in the artist’s words, “a harness of ropes to imply a sense of suspended motion or time, as well as its own history of travel.” The third and final part of the exhibit will be photographic diptychs that combine archival images with modern reenactments. Imatani is currently arranging a blessing ceremony of the sculpture by members of the Grand Ronde. 

Happy Holidays!


This year the Rowell Brokaw annual holiday party was cruise themed. Throughout the afternoon, there were shuffleboard, ping pong, Nerf gun, and Jenga battles.

Rowell Brokaw wins Interiors Award and a Mayor's Choice Award in 2017 AIA/SWO People's Choice Awards

The AIA-SWO annual People's Choice Awards results are in! This year there was a record 52 entries. Rowell Brokaw entered 5 boards and was pleased to win the Interiors Award and a Mayor's Choice Award. Check out the video of Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis sharing her reasons for selecting 1203 Willamette among her award choices. Below is a list of the award winners in all 11 categories. To view all 52 boards, visit the AIA website.

2017 People's Choice Award Winners

Mayor's Choice Winners
- Lone Rock Resources, Robertson Sherwood Architects
- 1203 Willamette, Rowell Brokaw Architects
- Eve Micro Housing, Michael Fifield Architect

Colleagues’ Choice Winners
- Roosevelt Middle School, Robertson Sherwood Architects

People’s Choice Winners
- Commercial: Timbers Inn Lounge - Nir Pearlson Architect
- Interiors: Hot Mama's Kitchen and Bar - Rowell Brokaw Architects
- General Landscape Private: - From Forgotten to Fantastic - Stangeland & Associates
- Multi-Family Landscape: Siuslaw Interetive Park, Dougherty Landscape Architects
- Multi-Family Housing: The Oaks at 14th - Bergsund Delaney Architecture & Planning Architects
- Master Planning:  Plan Clayton - The Urban Collaborative
- Parklet Design: IM.A.BENCH - PIVOT Architecture
- Public/Institutional - Valley Football Center - HNTB Architecture
- Single Family Residential - Christianson Passive House - Studio-E Architecture
- Student/Emerging Professional: Taylor Street Food Hall - Nicholas Paino
- Unbuilt: Eugene Civlc Park - Robertson Sherwood Architects, Skylab Architecture

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis shared with the AIA-SWO audience her reasons for selecting 1203 Willamette.

Virtual Reality as a Design Tool

Rowell Brokaw has been using Virtual Reality (VR) to understand their new office space in 1203 Willamette. Project Architect Paul Harman helps explain the benefits of this new medium: “Even though we have robust digital tools and the ability to see things on screen in perspective, we are still limited by our renderings: they are not always convincing and navigation with a mouse can be clumsy. Putting on a headset allows you to be immersed. It’s convincing to the point where you are concerned about bumping into things that don’t exist. VR is the next level in proof of concept. Now you can move from hand sketches to 2D views to perspectives that can be swiveled around on flat screens to immersion in an environment.... There are many buildings that had attractive drawings but are a lackluster experience. VR helps close the gap between what is drawn and what is built.”

RB visits Mid Valley Metals

Dustin Locke, the Marketing Director and Architecture Design Lead of Mid Valley Metals in West Eugene, gave RB a tour of their facilities. RB is developing a custom desk for our new offices on 1203 Willamette. Though still a design in progress, the sit-stand desk will have a 1 ¼” oak plywood top with a marmoleum surface and a perforated stainless steel back panel. After the tour of Mid Valley Metals, RB headed over to Altech Finishes to view their powder coating options.

New Tenants Coming to Crescent Village

There is a buzz of activity at Crescent Village East and the Inkwell Building with tenant improvements and upgrades to leasable spaces underway. NorthFork, a new restaurant serving rustic comfort food and craft beer, as well as a veterinarian office are joining the ground-floor mix of retail, restaurants, and offices at Crescent Village. Built in 2006 and 2007, Crescent Village has two mixed-use buildings at its center, both with 51 apartment units over 18,000 sf of retail space. In 2009, Crescent Village expanded to include the Inkwell Building, a LEED-certified 36,000 sf mixed-use office and retail building. 

Paul Harman at the Intersection of Hand and Digital

When not being an architect, Paul likes to make things, particularly furniture and architectural ornament. One of his pieces, the Owl Wall Sconce, was exhibited this summer at a juried show of local furniture makers at the Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene. The following is from an interview with Paul on his development as an artisan/artist:

I first became interested in craft and making things in my early twenties. I had just graduated from college, and while I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I knew that I wanted to work with my hands. A former professor recommended I visit Arcosanti, a pedestrian-oriented community conceived by architect Paolo Soleri as an alternative to urban sprawl, which is under construction in the Arizona high desert north of Phoenix. After completing the introductory workshop, I went to work at the community foundry where I learned a traditional method of making sandcast bronze wind bells. I thought of Arcosanti as being like a self-guided trade school. I would work at the foundry from 6am to 2pm and then would be free the rest of the day to use the other facilities, which included a wood shop, metal shop, and ceramics studio. It’s here where I first began exploring sculpting in clay.

Where I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania there is a rich history of timber frame barns and covered bridges. I had always admired this way of building, and so after leaving Arcosanti I attended a summer-long apprenticeship at the Heartwood School in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Heartwood specializes in teaching traditional timber frame carpentry using hand tools. Timber frame structures are in many ways like large pieces of furniture, and the joinery skills we were taught inspired my interest in furniture making.  

My late twenties and early thirties were spent working for small architectural firms in Philadelphia, while I continued to explore my own creative work in my free time. Without a formal degree, my career prospects in architecture were limited, and so I decided to return to graduate school at the University of Oregon to pursue a Master’s degree. It was here that I was first exposed to the creative potential of digital fabrication through using the school’s CNC router. Learning to use this technology has completely transformed my approach to craft. Not only has it generally extended my capabilities by allowing me to do things that would be very difficult to execute using conventional techniques, but also it has allowed me to translate ideas I have been previously only able to explore in ceramics into a variety of other materials, such as wood, solid surface (for example, Corian), concrete, and glass.

I periodically encounter people who are “purists” in their thinking about craft. To them, utilizing digital tools is somehow “cheating.” One of my heroes is Wharton Esherick, an artist and craftsman, who famously declared, “I use any damn machinery I can get hold of…. Handcrafted has nothing to do with it. I’ll use my teeth if I have to.” Like Esherick, for me the design idea is most important, and I’ll use whatever tools are at my disposal to realize the idea in physical form.

On the opposite extreme, I have taught classes at the University of Oregon in digital modeling and fabrication where I have encountered students who insist that only work that is purely digitally derived from parametric processes devoid of the human hand are valid uses of digital fabrication technologies. This kind of absolutist thinking is equally puzzling to me. I believe there is an innate intelligence in the human hand when it comes to generating pleasing and meaningful forms. Why wouldn’t you want to marry the two capabilities? That is how I approach much of my work now. It is an intersection between the hand and the digital. While much of the work I do is executed digitally, I think and design tactilely. When I am working on an ornamental design, I often need to first model the design in clay by hand before I jump to the computer so that I can understand the form in a visceral way that I can only get through touch.

I know this is going to sound cliché, but what inspires me most, particularly my work in ornamental designs, is the patterns and forms I find in nature. The swirling grain of wood burls, the pattern on a spider’s thorax, ripples and undulations in water—that sort of thing. While there is a trend in contemporary ornament that seeks to replicate many patterns in nature using parametric techniques (think of Voronoi diagrams and soap bubbles), this really doesn’t interest me. I like to observe and internalize the things that inspire me. Then through a process of hand sketching and modeling, ideas begin to emerge; inevitably a certain degree of abstraction occurs. Sometimes the idea comes pretty quickly, but usually it’s a long, iterative process until I am satisfied that I have something worth the effort of actually making.

For more of Paul’s work, visit his website.

Panoramas of Pacific Hall

Panorama 1.JPG
Panorama 2.JPG

Pacific Hall is being transformed into a new research hub for the Human Physiology, Geography, and Anthropology departments at the UO. A typical lab has four open bays, each 10’8” by 22’0”, and a fifth, enclosed bay that serves as flex space for a clean room, biopsy room, data analysis area, and/or office. Each entry will be storefront and have a seating bench for socializing in the corridor. Alignment of entry zones across corridors creates sight lines between labs and to the outdoors.

Crescent Village Featured in Community Design Handbook

As part of the Envision Eugene Comprehensive Plan, the Community Design Handbook (CDH) establishes "a broad set of non-regulatory design principles and guidelines that express the community's vision for the built environment." Crescent Village appears in a subsection of the chapter "Evoke a Sense of Place." Please Note: Though the publication specifies "draft," this document is in its final form.

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.