Construction Specifications, Certifications & the In-House Spec Writer

An experienced, well-rounded architect knows that good architecture goes beyond design itself. Successful buildings – those that serve their occupants well and are constructed of high-quality materials able to stand the test of time – incorporate the specialized expertise of a specifications writer. An often overlooked and increasingly outsourced position, the spec writer is an invaluable member of the in-house design team. In this post, Associate Principal Alexander Lungershausen, AIA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, LEED BD+C, explains the role of the construction specifications writer, the benefits of having in-house expertise, and yes, what all the letters after his name actually mean.

 

How/why did you become involved in CSI Portland?

As an architect, I’ve always had an inherent interest in the technical aspects of the profession and how they influence design. I was originally educated in Germany, where the technical side of this industry is as highly regarded and taught as the artistic side. In 2001, a colleague in the office where I was working invited everyone to attend technical presentations put on by CSI Portland. I began to attend these presentations regularly, and eventually became the specifications writer at that firm. I also became more and more involved with CSI, becoming a committee leader and then a board member. While drawings tell you where elements are in a building’s design, specifications tell you what  those elements are. Specifications control the quality and the workmanship in the execution of a project.  A building that is assembled well performs well, which leads to return commissions.

In-house specifications writer at Hennebery Eddy Architects examining architectural drawings at a desk.

 

What led to you pursue certification as a CCS and CCCA?

Initially I became a Certified Document Technologist (CDT). That certification demonstrates an understanding of the documents and the relationships between all the parties who are involved in the construction of a project. Passing the CDT exam is a prerequisite for CSI’s advanced certifications.

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Restoring Community, Livability and Equity: Albina Vision

Throughout Portland’s history, the area now known as the Rose Quarter has seen significant transformation. These drastic changes, while beneficial to specific uses and groups, have often carried significant consequences, including decades of displacement – the uprooting of thousands of residents and small business owners, many of them Black or other minorities. Today, the Rose Quarter serves as an efficient events district, absorbing and releasing large surges of visitors. However, during non-event days and times, the district is vacant — an uninhabitable island within the city.

When Hennebery Eddy was invited to help develop a physical and economic vision for the district, we recognized the opportunity to use design to reflect the needs, goals and aspirations of a community, convey possibilities for integrating the district into the city, and incorporate the relationships and connections to nearby sites, prompting community conversation and input.

Rendering of plaza concept for Albina Vision urban planning effort in Portland, Oregon. Couple walking along open space with building on horizon.

 

A group of engaged citizens and community leaders collaborated over six months, conducted five in depth work sessions to review the history of the district, its current configuration and status, the range of prior proposals and current studies under way, articulate values and develop a physical framework for the future. Supported by project leader Zari Santner and Hennebery Eddy Architects, and with economic analysis by Abe Farkas, the work sessions brought together people with a depth of knowledge about Portland, urban planning and development, finance, and community interest. These advocates of the city were given no specific development agendas, free to establish their own standard of a successful outcome.

The resulting Albina Vision is not prescriptive, but rather is a framework to foster the growth of a diverse, sustainable, urban district – on par with great neighborhoods of the world. It includes short, mid- and long-term goals, considerations and aspirations that address transportation infrastructure, the built environment, and what it means to foster a diverse, sustainable community.

For more site plans and conceptual renderings, visit the Albina Vision project page. Press coverage includes articles in The Skanner and DJC Oregon (login required).

Yellowstone National Park Youth Campus receives Architecture 2030 Award from AIA Portland

Hennebery Eddy is pleased to share that it has received an Architecture 2030 Award from AIA Portland for the design of Yellowstone National Park Youth Campus.

The project is pursuing both the Living Building Challenge Certification and Passive House Certification. These complementary certifications are based on actual performance and provide an organizational framework for tracking and ensuring the highest standard of design, detailing, construction, and operations. Upon completion, the project would be the first in a national park to achieve both certifications. The new Yellowstone Youth Campus is aspirational in seeking to set a new standard for design and sustainability within our national parks.

Yellowstone National Park Youth Campus daytime rendering of back of commons by Hennebery Eddy Architects
Rendering of the back of the commons building, one of 10 buildings on the campus of the Yellowstone National Park Youth Campus. Image copyright Hennebery Eddy Architects.

Beyond achieving the programmatic goals of growing youth programs, the campus will serve as both a teaching tool and a gateway to Yellowstone National Park for youth nationwide. The campus – comprising 10 buildings – will serve as the future home for multiple youth programs currently operating in Yellowstone. Inspired by the dramatic landscape and rich cultural history of the region, campus buildings reflect a contemporary expression of vernacular architecture of the West.

This award is one of a series of accolades Hennebery Eddy has received for its sustainable design work; it has received a AIA COTE Top Ten Award and three other 2030 Challenge design awards.

The 2017 AIA Portland Architecture Award is sponsored by BetterBricks.

Hennebery Eddy helps TriMet update Blue Line MAX facilities, starting with Gresham City Hall station

Hennebery Eddy is working with CH2M to upgrade facilities along the TriMet MAX Blue Line, Portland’s light rail line system that has been in operation for more than 30 years. Along with conducting studies to incorporate a new faregate system, we also developed a “menu” of improvement options for the platform components, including shelter roofs, platform buildings, art glass wind screens, stairways, railings, paving, signage, and lighting.

TriMet Blue MAX Line Gresham City Hall Station

photo courtesy of TriMet

The Gresham City Hall station was the first on the Blue Line to be completed and opened this summer. It includes a clear fare zone, improves safety and visibility, and reflects standardization in components, signs, amenities, and finishes that are also low-maintenance and durable. For a closer look at the new station, hop over to the TriMet blog, How We Roll, for a video and more details.

Hennebery Eddy has a history of successful transportation architecture and transit design projects, ranging from the award-winning South Terminus to a dramatic expansion at Portland International Airport.

PDX Green Loop Competition

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Last spring, Hennebery Eddy participated in the PDX Green Loop Competition, an opportunity presented by the University of Oregon John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape in collaboration with Design Week Portland and the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Described as “a 21st century public works project for Portland,” the call for designs asked for six-mile “linear park” solutions connecting the east and west sides of the Willamette River. In collaboration with DHM Design, CH2M and Tad Savinar, our fascination with the concept of reconnecting with the land to explore the interconnectedness of circulation and recreation, and sustainability and sustenance into one byway serving the entire city propelled us to finalist status in the competition.

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Preservation Education: University of Oregon Pacific Northwest Preservation Field School

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In late August, associate Carin Carlson, AIA, and Tim Mitchell, AIA, of Hennebery Eddy’s Historic Resources Group participated in the Pacific Northwest Preservation Field School at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. The summer field school is part of the University of Oregon’s Historic Preservation Program and is held annually at locations rotating around Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California in conjunction with the National Park Service, state parks, and other regional stakeholders. Incoming students to the University’s Historic Preservation Program are required to attend, and the field school is open to professionals and individuals interested in experiencing hands-on preservation work. Carin and Tim are both graduates of the University of Oregon; Carin is a graduate of the Historic Preservation Program.

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Hennebery Eddy Architects and Fortis Construction Recognized for Design-Build Excellence by DBIA

Architects and construction firms are often lauded for the beauty, creativity, and engineering of their projects, while the project delivery process itself is overlooked. Hennebery Eddy Architects and Fortis Construction are bucking that trend. The firms, both based in Portland, were recognized with a national merit award by the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) for their design-build delivery of an office renovation for the Oregon Department of State Lands.

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Autodesk A360 highlights PDX Terminal Balancing Project Team

The Port of Portland’s PDX Terminal Balancing project is being delivered as a collaborative design partnership between Hennebery Eddy Architects in Portland and Fentress Architects, headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Fentress and Hennebery Eddy work together as a single design team — enabled by A360 Team — to best utilize the strengths of both firms to deliver a complex public infrastructure project for the Portland International Airport.

 Read the full article on the Autodesk A360 Blog

From LEED to Living

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Can Certifications make Better Buildings?

Over the last decade LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has become perhaps the most widely known environmental third-party certification for buildings, helping to bridge the technical barrier of sustainable design between owners and architects. While LEED promotes many positive things within the built environment, it is limited to a prescriptive manner of certification, which can result in theoretically “better” buildings that may not actually perform better than a typical baseline building.

A little less than a decade ago, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) unveiled a new building certification – The Living Building Challenge (LBC) which focuses on a standard of performance.  Branded as “a philosophy, advocacy platform and certification tool” it has established itself as perhaps the most advanced and inspirational environmental third-party certification for buildings. Organized around seven petals – Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty – the LBC pushes projects towards regenerative solutions. These efforts are then proven through a 12-month post occupancy verification period required for certification. Less than 10 projects worldwide have achieved full Living Building certification while dozens of others are in various stages, perhaps most notably the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington (which hasn’t yet completed its 12-month verification). As a firm we have not yet completed a Living Building, however, we recently proposed LBC certification for the early concept of a project. Time will tell if the project ends up pursuing and achieving the LBC, but we thought we’d share a bit of what we learned in the initial process.

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PDX Carpet Redux

Amid the PDX carpet craze on social media, Hennebery Eddy Architects and Emerick Construction are hard at work removing the old carpet and installing the new carpet at the Portland International Airport. See for yourself, and watch the a timelapse of the PDX carpet replacement: