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Architecture and design

Summer 2004

Students to build a complete solar home

A group of students from the School of Architecture and Construction Management at Washington State University will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. Over the next two years, the students will design and construct a small, energy-independent home as their entry.

Sponsored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the competition gives students two years to plan and build a 500- to 800-square-foot house that receives all of its energy needs from the sun. The competition aims to increase public awareness of solar energy and inspire innovative solutions in ecological design. As part of the competition, students have to provide a home with … » More …

Summer 2004

Wave of the Future

Hands-on training doesn’t get better than this. After six months of construction, Washington State University assistant professor of architecture Robert Barnstone and 10 architectural design students recently completed what is essentially the world’s first wood-plastic building.

The project is a demonstration for the U.S Navy to show that wood-plastic products can be used wherever wood comes into contact with the ground, Barnstone says. The result is a structure at WSU’s Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory (WMEL) that represents the ultimate in “reuse and recycle,” built entirely by undergraduate students from the architecture and engineering programs. The overall project engaged students, professionals, and professors, who guided … » More …

Summer 2005

A Building Full of Answers

Maybe it’s their nondescript building, one of a row of identical structures just off of Plum Street on the way into Olympia. Or maybe it’s their curious history, once a government entity, then oddly tossed to the budget dogs by an otherwise environmentalist governor. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s with Washington State University Extension, but doesn’t really cost us anything. Or maybe it’s all those 800 numbers connecting it to the outside world. And then again, maybe it was just me.

I’ve got to admit, I just didn’t understand the WSU Energy Program until I stopped in for a visit late last summer. Not … » More …

Fall 2009

Greenscapes: Olmsted’s Pacific Northwest

Greenscapes: Olmsted’s Pacific Northwest book cover

Joan Hockaday
WSU Press, 2009

John Charles Olmsted, nephew and stepson of world-famous park designer Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and half brother of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., spent much of his life in the shadows of his more famous relatives. Even so, on the West Coast he has had the greatest and most lasting influence of any single landscape architect.

Because of an invitation made to the Olmsted … » More …

Winter 2007

The Cougar wears Prada

FLORENCE, ITALY—She’d perused the vintage vendors on London’s Portobello Road and seen the Chanel logo stamped onto the most prestigious silk in the world in Como, Italy.

By her first morning in Florence, with its supple leather, luxury textiles, and elegant, well-heeled locals, Katy Daly’s fingers were getting restless.

“I really need a needle, thread, and some fabric right now,” said Daly, of Kent, Washington. By afternoon, she was winding through the narrow cobblestone alleys in the shadow of Giotto’s bell tower with a small scrap of paper on which she had penciled the word merceria in hopes of finding an Italian haberdashery shop with … » More …

Spring 2008

New Urbanism: Resources for further reading

If you’ve read David Wang’s essay “Meditations on a Strip Mall,” you’re already aware that, while it may not be controversial, New Urbanism enjoys less than universal favor among architects and/or urban planners.  So we offer three sources for information on the subject-one neutral, one that strongly advocates NU, and one that offers a trenchant criticism of NU’s ability-or lack thereof-to create community.

We don’t know how you feel about Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, but it’s the best place we’ve found for getting an overview of the new urbanism-what it is, where it comes from, its main advocates, and some of the things … » More …

Summer 2009

Harley Cowan—Chicken sedan

There’s an old knee-slapper that goes something like this: Why does a chicken coop have two doors? Because if it had four doors (drumroll, please) it would be a sedan!

“It’s a really lousy joke,” says architect Harley Cowan ‘96, who can’t help chuckling often these days after the “Chicken Sedan” he built for his backyard flock snared two of Portland’s top architectural honors, earning billing alongside designs for major condominium projects, university buildings, and medical facilities.

Spurred by wife Carrie’s interest in raising chickens  and armed with a bit of research, Cowan designed his combination coop and sheltered run with a classic A-frame, … » More …

Spring 2009

Building Green

Jeff Feinstein ’85 finds green investment a hedge against a down economy

Our gas-guzzling, carbon-spewing automobiles draw a lot of the blame for the build-up of greenhouse gases most scientists say is making the world warmer. That’s led to a worldwide flurry of investment in biofuels research and more fuel-efficient vehicles–even hybrid diesel Kenworth semis, built by Paccar in Kirkland.

But amid all that traffic, a quiet community of builders and designers is starting to speak up, saying that if we want to make real reductions in energy use, we just have to look closer to home–to our houses, offices, and high-rise condos.

“The … » More …