The 2018 Portland Architecture Awards: The Design Show for Everyone!
AIA Portland, a 1,200-member chapter of the American Institute of Architects has been hosting an annual design awards program for many years. Like most professional industry recognition events – these programs have focused, appropriately, on the achievements of the architect members and have traditionally been perceived as “member events.”
When I became the Executive Vice President / CEO of AIA Portland in 2014, one of my very first charges in working with our elected leaders was the consideration of the next steps in developing our design awards program to better align with our goals of engaging the public. Architecture awards programs can be a lot of fun for all the obvious reasons. There remains, however, the concern that discussion about architecture can become a bit dry...and somewhat cerebral. You simply can’t ignore this any more than you can ignore the nature of a post-operative evaluation for surgeons or the review of a legal brief for attorneys. These professional deep-dives can limit the enjoyment of non-professional attendees including the families, clients and friends of those being recognized.
AIA Portland directors wanted to begin shaping our main annual event to be more inclusive, more celebratory and fun for a broader audience while maintaining the AIA’s high standards for architectural discourse and criticism. The idea of creating an event that others in our expanded community would actually want to attend became our primary objective. This would help people to discover, for themselves, that architecture can be exciting and wonderful and that everyone is part of it... every day!
When I met in 2016 with then AIA Portland President Leroy Landers we concluded that to convey the excitement and wonder of architecture to all attendees, we needed to design an event that was truly entertaining, engaging and high energy. We thought of the academy awards, as a model...but instead of celebrating movies...we’d be celebrating excellent architecture and the people behind it!
The most influential program change was to add live music to the event and have it be integral to the program itself. Since many of us grew up watching Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and the Tonight Show...it was easy to envision an improved format that was part high-level jury commentary (talk show style), part house band entertainment and a part academy awards with live music played on cue as winning firms and individuals are announced and invited to the stage. I can’t thank our amazing musical guest from 2016/17 - Ural Thomas and the Pain and its director Scott Magee enough for helping to establish in the moment of our 2016 event, that this idea can work!
All of this is choreographed, timed and moderated with all the winners and special guests on stage during the finale – like the cast call we all remember as the SNL credits roll on NBC. As far as I know...there is no other AIA design awards event like this...and AIA Portland remains the pioneer of a format that elevates the importance of architecture while raising the celebration of its deep impact to the extent that all of our guests can really enjoy themselves. Add a great reception prior to the “show,” a post-event party at the corner bar at Revolution Hall, a few special guests and more focus on the people making...and behind...these great designs - and you have one entertaining and inclusive evening!
We are very excited that the 2018 Portland Architecture Awards is returning to Revolution Hall for the fourth consecutive year! It’s a great venue, of course, designed for well-produced music concerts...and for our part...well supported (via the excellent stage, sound and lighting crew) a captivating architecture awards program!
Our esteemed 2018 PAA jury – three very talented architects from Philadelphia - Karen Blanchard, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal at SITIO; Jeff Goldstein, AIA, Principal at DIGSAU and Jason Smith, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Partner at Kieran Timberlake will join us to provide a compelling overview of the outstanding design work executed by AIA Portland member firms.
Rounding out the show, of course, is this year’s musical guest - Portland’s very own Soul Vaccination, one of the tightest funk and soul bands anywhere! If you haven’t heard them live...or any of their tracks on Spotify...you are in for a treat. We are more than confident they’ll bring enough energy to blow the house down!
I hope you will join us this year for Portland’s premiere architecture event and experience, for yourself, the wonderful designs that will make a positive impact on so many lives!
2018 Portland Architecture Awards
Friday, November 2nd, 2018
Revolution Hall 1300 Stark Street, Portland
6:00 PM Reception, 7:30 PM Show
www.aiaportland.org/2018paa for more information
www.revolutionhall.com for tickets