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American Institute of Architecture presents upcoming award ceremony

The annual Portland Architecture Awards is coming up on Thursday, Nov. 17. Hosted by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, this year's event will take place at Revolution Hall for the second year in a row.

An upcoming event will recognize the hard creative work architects have been pouring into Portland.

The annual Portland Architecture Awards is coming up on Thursday, Nov. 17. Hosted by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, this year’s event will take place at Revolution Hall for the second year in a row.

Robert Hoffman, executive vice president and CEO of the Portland AIA chapter, said he’s excited about the venue even though it’s something of an investment.Hoffman

“But the payback is the technical folks there who help run production for Mississippi Studios and the Revolution Hall staff, they’re fantastic to work with,” Hoffman said. “Not only do we have a great show, we have a place that’s designed for them to network and celebrate together, and that’s what everyone looks forward to the most: it’s fun to be there.”

Hoffman said AIA is also figuring out ways to tempt companies to attend, especially firms that submitted projects to the awards.

“This year, the challenge will be that we created the time to do things,” Hoffman said. “The challenge this year is how to leverage that and as a design-led organization, really show what we can do to tailor that program to the full experience of the audience — figure out ways to recognize projects that are being discussed by the jury, win awards and integrate that into the flavor of the evening.”

Hoffman said there are two really big, interesting changes they made in planning the event this year.

SUBMITTED: AIA - Lakeside at Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon is a $11.5 million complex, designed by THA Architecture.

Early jury

The 2016 jury is made up of three members from Boston. The chapter is returning the favor because last year, the Portland AIA chapter provided the jury for the Boston chapter awards. Jennifer Mannhard, principal at Communicate Design, is the Portland Architecture Awards Chair for the first time, and helped select the jury and work with them.

“It’s probably a benefit that I’m not exactly sure how it’s been done in the past, so I have a fresh perspective and way of doing things,” Mannhard said. “From what I understand, in years past, awards were selected the day before the event, and it was hard.”

Traditionally, the jury has always been from other cities in the U.S., but have usually flown in to review the submissions the day before the awards, leaving the jury exhausted at the ceremony.

“They’re the main guests of honor on the stage for the program on the 17th,” Hoffman said. “They won’t be exhausted and burnt out, they will be rested and ready to be part of the program and ready to talk about the work. That’s a really big change for the chapter.”

Hoffman said Mannhard is popular right now in terms of her work, managing large international and local design companies. She went to Boston and worked with the jury.

“There’s a skillset about how you actually facilitate things like that, work with juries, work with committing project teams, she’s fantastic,” Hoffman said.

Mannhard has been in the Portland design community for 15 years, and has experience running design competitions.

“The jury was exceptionally thoughtful in their considerations. They are a fun group who will bring a lot of insight to the awards this year, and I’m really looking forward to having them there,” Mannhard said. “Every year, Portland firms do an amazing job from very small scale to really large buildings — at all scales there is really interesting work being done.”

The Boston jury will fly out ahead of time for an informal jury session on Nov. 16th. Those interested are also invited to attend jury critique night, to hear the jury members discuss their impressions of this year’s submissions and learn about their approaches to design.

The entertainment

The second big change is the entertainment: local soul music band Ural Thomas & the Pain will play as the house band the whole night.

“We’ve had bands as part of the post-awards celebration, but never integrated on the stage during the program, so that’s new,” Hoffman said. “Not only entertaining the audience before and after, but when queueing the award winners onto the stage.”SUBMITTED: AIA - Albina Yard, a creative office by Lever Architecture, is one of this years submissions.

Hoffman said the objective is to increase the celebratory level and create an environment more like the Academy Awards for architecture here in Oregon.

“We will still have a high level of commentary from the jury and work is fantastic again this year — we’re not changing that,” Hoffman said. “We’re adding more quality to the show in the presentation so people stay invigorated and are up and excited about projects they’re going to discuss, and the teams are going to be invited on the floor for more of a celebration.”

Attendees are also invited to nominate an individual for the Emerging Professional of the Year award. It is awarded to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to their firm, is a graduate of an accredited architecture degree program and has been out of school for fewer than four years. Nominate someone online at AIAPortland.org.

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