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Would you donate blood here? by Michelle Linden







Can you imagine signing up to donate blood, and finding yourself in a place like this?!?
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The project, The O'Porto Blood Bank by ARX is a very interesting building... not only aesthetically, but conceptually. Unlike many building types, a blood bank is a very new kind of building, with a wide variety of programmatic restrictions. Firstly, the various research stations need to be located separately in order to maintain the necessary scientific protocol. Furthermore, because this is new building typology, and the technology is advancing so fast, this highly technical interior also needs to be highly flexible in order to adapt to changes in the medical research field. To be honest, I'm impressed that ARX managed to provide such an aesthetically pleasing project for such a complex program.
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This is certainly not something I would expect to see in the US. In fact, this project reminds me of something the speakers at the Seattle AIA awards had to say while discussing jewel box architecture... so often we are all struggling to create the next Bilbao, a spectacular museum or other high budget structure that redefines a city.. the ideal project. But, wouldn't it be wonderful if we all put that same energy into creating a school or hospital or civic structure as the next Bilbao?... why couldn't the next city defining project be a commercial or institutional building that supports the local citizens?
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I'd argue that ARX has tried to do just that. They have worked within the significant constraints of a seemingly dull building type, and still they have provided a spectacular projects. The architecture, daily inhabitants, and local community are all affected and improved upon by each other. I'd love to see something similar in my neighborhood.
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architecture w by Michelle Linden

When discussing modern architecture in the United States, a great deal of focus is put on the design happening in Chicago, LA, and New York. While these cities are obviously deserving of the attention they receive, there are many other parts of the country that are also creating and developing modern architecture.

When we first moved to Seattle, I have to admit that I wasn't very informed about the Pacific Northwest aesthetic. But after living here for a few years, I'm learning more and more about the local modern movement. One of the firms that is pushing the modernist aesthetic is architecture w. This firm is currently working on a diverse range of projects -both in scope and scale- throughout the Pacific Northwest and Japan. With 3 locations in Nagoya, Tokyo, and Portland Oregon, their designs resonate both here and abroad.

Below are a few photos of a home remodel in Portland. Although architecture w has many great projects, I wanted to feature this house because its a local project that clearly illustrates the modernist pac-nw style, as well as the firm's own Japanese influence.



Remodels can be extremely difficult, especially when you want to keep a part of the original shell. This project succeeds in retaining a glimmer of the existing home, but provides an addition that is both current and connected to the original home. It reminds me of the re-modeled homes we saw in Tokyo, where homeowners are forced to build up rather than out, due to the high density of the city's development.

I love the fact that the architects kept the original footprint and siding, and extruded the form skyward in order to create more space. The dark vertical siding creates a spectacular dialogue with the existing horizontal lighter siding. In my opinion, the contrast in materials is so successful, in part because the form of the addition is so simple. And of course, we all know that its much harder to successfully design a simple structure, than to create an ornate design.

I will certainly continue to follow architecture w's projects, and am excited to see their influence on the local design here in the northwest.