Nau's Rugged, Sustainable A-Frame Pavilion

Portland firm William Kaven gives the sustainable clothing brand a brawny and beautiful trade-show home.

By Peter Holmstrom February 17, 2014

For last month's Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, one of the premier showcases for outdoorsy companies and products, the Portland-based sustainable clothing company Nau exported some local architectural flair. North Portland-headquartered firm William Kaven designed a spare, steel-boned A-frame—an airy lattice that both displayed and subtly echoed the Earth-friendly, practical bent of Nau's product lines.

“The initial concept we came up with was for a mountain retreat-type structure,” says William Kaven co-founder Daniel Kaven. “The entire structure needs to be able to break down and ship, which really goes with the ethos of NAU, as steel is really easily recyclable.”

Some designers might turn this brief into an aesthetically cold and Spartan building. Kaven and Trevor William Lewis seized an opportunity to embellish those elements that make the Pacific Northwest great. By letting in large amounts of outside light, and utilizing some of the world's most sustainable building materials—the recycling rate of steel bests any other building material, at 98 percent—the NAU structure offers a warm and surprisingly natural look to go with its conceptual and physical brawn.

William Kaven’s portfolio ranges from hotels to business offices, homes to outdoor sporting goods stores. The work is united by a focus on lightweight materials and sustainable practices. “By virtue of being involved in building things," Kaven says, "we look at anything we can do along the process to reduce the use of chemicals and extra materials, during and after a project is completed."

The NAU installation will be on display in Salt Lake City for two years, which co-founder Daniel Kaven hopes to be the first of an ongoing tour after that. William Kaven Architecture also has projects currently in development in Soho for Diamond Supply, a private house near Lake Michigan, and a micro-hotel currently being built in Laos.

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