GRAY Award winners were revealed live during the Awards Party on November 20, 2019, at The National Nordic Museum in Seattle, and published in GRAY magazine No. 49.
Located in Dundee, the heart of Oregon’s wine country,
Furioso Vineyards spent its first years as a series of disconnected utilitarian structures scattered across a 10-acre site dominated by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapevines. The assemblage included a steel shed that held the winery, several storage facilities, an outdoor crush pad, and a residence, each built in different styles of disparate materials. When its owners called on Portland’s Waechter Architecture to help them reimagine the property, their goal was to create a unified identity that would celebrate the surrounding countryside. “Our approach was to reimagine the elements of the estate, giving each a distinct and focused identity while expanding their relationships, to heighten the viewer’s experience of the landscape and the wine-making process,” reads the firm’s GRAY Awards submission. “In the new design, these elements elegantly work together to create distinct complementary atmospheres of their own.”
Waechter Architecture first expanded the existing winery and cladded it with a vertical 2-by-2-inch blackened cedar screen. During the day, the building appears dense and solid, but at night,
an interior illumination system backlights the slats, imbuing the building with an ethereal glow. Just feet from the winery, a new glass-encased tasting room is positioned at the edge of the grape rows, giving guests the feeling of hovering above and within the vines. A loggia between the tasting room and winery doubles as a crush pad during harvest season, which puts the winemaking processes on full display. Uniting the two sections is a bold roof made of 6-inch-thick corrugated metal that cantilevers over the building and shades the glass tasting room in the hot summer months. As the firm writes, “Like each new piece of the winery, the floating roof seamlessly integrates functional challenges into a simple yet iconic design.”
Richmond So Engineers
Date of completion:
High Desert Residence
The Hacker–designed High Desert Residence is not for the faint of heart. Located outside Bend, Oregon, where jagged mountains and cinder cones tower over the desolate landscape and the sky sometimes rains golf ball-sized hail or drops enough snow to collapse roofs, the four-bedroom home is an adventurous weekend getaway for one Oregon couple and their extended family. “There is a freshness to the landscape and an aroma in the air that cannot be found anywhere else in the world,” the Portland-based firm writes in its submission.
High Desert Residence’s angular cedar, steel, and glass exterior is a dramatic contrast to its chaparral-covered site. Large floor-to-ceiling windows interspersed with cedar planks compose the home’s façade and grant residents wide views of land and sky from each room, a design that “brings focus to the immediacy of the desert flora and fauna in the entry courtyard and the garden,” the firm explains. “It captures the sprawling texture of distant hills and offers anchoring views upward to the seemingly endless desert sky.”
Inside, the home’s airy private and communal areas provide unobstructed views of the property. The décor revolves around monochromatic pieces that respond to the muted tones of the outdoor landscape and spotlights the couple’s collection of midcentury furniture. The cedar of the exterior is also used indoors to reinforce the indoor-outdoor connection. “The form of the house is a simple one, designed to edit the relationship between landscape and sky,” writes Hacker, “and to cultivate a unique experience of both from each room.”
Kirby Nagelhout Construction
Madden & Baughman
Date of completion:
INTERIOR DESIGN: COMMERCIAL
Bucking the trend of blond wood and candy-hued pastels, the restaurant Samara embraces the dark tones and melancholy air of a Dutch still-life painting. Located in the Sunset Hill area of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, the 38-seat eatery opened in January 2019 with a sustainability-focused menu and a multilevel wood-fueled grill and oven that serves as a focal point for both the cuisine and the décor. The space was designed by Mutuus Studio, an interdisciplinary firm consisting of architect Jim Friesz, designer Kristen Becker, and artist Saul Becker, as its first foray into restaurant design.
“Samara is rich and moody, with an elemental simplicity,” Mutuus writes in its submission. “The simple copper pot was an inspiration to us: something utilitarian that only gets better with age.” Copper is seen in details throughout the restaurant, including lighting, cookware, and the wood-fueled oven and hearth. Dark-stained oak paneling and wainscoting wrap part of the bar front and dining room, which is open to the brick oven and allows guests to watch their meals’ preparation. Soft dove-gray paint balances the abundance of wood, keeping the atmosphere cozy rather than oppressive. An eight-seat soapstone chef’s counter permits diners a front-row view of the action in the kitchen, the pots hanging overhead coupled with the crackle and pop of the oven’s burning wood giving guests the sense of being in someone’s home on a winter evening. Dotting the space are elegant industrial Mallet lights designed by Mutuus specifically for the space.
“The amber glow of the fire inspired the design of the lights, [which feature] a torched copper exterior patina with a polished copper interior,” the firm writes. “Rich earth tones dominate [the space], bringing to mind a tranquil wooded understory.” Dishware sourced from both Paris and local potter Akiko Graham adds a textural element to the space, bringing it still closer to a Vermeer mood.
Date of completion:
INTERIOR DESIGN: RESIDENTIAL
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
Some neighborhoods are just too good to give up. Such was the case for this client, who had lived in a spacious industrial loft in Portland’s Pearl District for years, becoming very attached to the area in the process. But while she loved living downtown, she was no longer in love with her apartment. Contemplating a move, the client saw another unit in her building that had been remodeled by local firm Jessica Helgerson Interior Design. Inspired by the transformation, she called the designer in hopes of achieving similar results in her own apartment.
“At the beginning of the design process, we received a short list of adjectives from our client describing the kind of home she’d like to live in,” notes the firm in its project entry. “In the end, we designed an environment that aims to be both serene and energizing.” No major structural changes were needed because “the plan, as it was originally laid out, was simple [and] logical and worked well for our client,” the firm continues. “It really came down to a few strategic shifts: moving the kitchen sink from an interior wall to a window, lowering a lofted area, and adding a maximum amount of storage for a minimum amount of clutter.”
Opting for a restrained material palette (the space’s rough sawn-wood ceiling, existing brick walls, and concrete flooring were all kept intact), Helgerson swathed the walls in white to bring in warmth. Subtle hints of feminine glamour include a pearly porcelain tile backsplash in the kitchen and upholstered felt wall panels in the bedroom (bonus: the panels hide storage space). The furnishings, a combination of vintage, custom, and new pieces, balance the scale, material, and tone of the industrial shell. And a special find, a three-paneled mobile aptly titled Balance, designed by Danish architect Stine Gam and Italian architect Enrico Fratesi of the firm GamFratesi, toes the “delicate line between serene and energizing.”
Paul Hegarty Construction
Date of completion:
Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park
Site Workshop Landscape Architecture
In 1993, the 571-foot-tall ASARCO smelter smokestack on Tacoma’s Point Defiance was demolished, marking a turning point in the area’s environmental progress. During ASARCO’s more than 70-year-long tenure, the smelter had formed a manmade peninsula by dumping lead and arsenic slag into Puget Sound, polluting 1,000 square miles of soil across the sound’s main basin. This past August, Seattle’s Site Workshop Landscape Architecture completed a decades-long project with Metro Parks Tacoma and the local community to transform the slag peninsula into a park. “The project highlights the tension between the site’s productive industrial past and its rich natural surroundings,” writes Site in its awards submission, reflecting, “the complex identity of Tacoma and its aspirations for the future.”
Sprawling across 11 of the park’s 46 acres, the project includes three sail mounds (or artificial hills) composed of contaminated landfill capped with clean soil and stone terraces. On the north end of the peninsula, one mound’s slope forms an amphitheater, and a concrete stage was added to host outdoor events. The top layer of the site is covered with naturally sourced native-prairie flora of the type once seen throughout Pierce County but now found in only 3 percent of the Puget Sound area.
Site commissioned Portland-based artist Adam Kuby to commemorate Dune Peninsula’s checkered past with interactive art installations. He installed a series of increasingly smaller steel pipes to represent the dismantling of the notorious smokestack—once the world’s tallest—that once dominated the plot. Site also designed a slender 550-foot-long pedestrian bridge to connect the park to the redeveloped waterfront and a trail to downtown
Tacoma, providing urbanites with immediate access to nature. From the bridge, park-goers can take in unobstructed views of Commencement Bay and the Puget Sound mountain ranges. “The park connects visitors to this story with engaging forms, details, and art,” Site writes, “while creating a diverse array of recreational spaces for discovery, play, and enjoying the natural beauty of the region.”
Center for Natural Lands Management
Jacobs Engineering Group
Michael Courtney Design
Project Delivery Analysts
Rozewood Environmental Services
Date of completion:
Finite, Autumn/Winter 2019
Time perplexes physicists, philosophers, and existentialists alike. Yet Deborah Roberts, the designer behind Seattle-based fashion brand SILVAE, sees time as a muse, especially in her creation of Finite, the label’s autumn/winter ’19 collection, which was inspired by the life of her 101-year-old grandfather. Through contemporary details merged with traditional silhouettes—think sheer blouses paired with prairie-style dresses—the line honors both fashion’s history and its present. Finite “is a reflection of the past century, the changes my grandfather has witnessed, and our relationship with time and this planet,” writes Roberts in her submission. It’s also “a reminder to be wise with our limited resources and hold our loved ones close.”
The collection’s ruched organza blouses, wine-washed corduroy trousers, and midlength plaid dresses balance tradition with modernity, while textured chunky knits and woolens sourced from Italy and Japan serve as weighty contrasts to a silver laminated-cotton jacket. Triangular collarbone cutouts and circular peek-a-boos along the sides of a sheer plaid frock contemporize modest pieces, while maintaining the sophistication that’s marked SILVAE’s collections since its launch in 2014.
Designed and constructed in Seattle, Finite is also an ode to sustainability. Roberts repurposed scrap fabric from her collection in collaboration with the Seattle rug company What Because to make one-of-a-kind mats. Recently, she started hosting sewing and alteration classes to teach others how to make and preserve their own garments, saying, “I hope to expand these initiatives in the coming years to reconnect people with their clothing and equip them with skills to extend its lifetime.”
Date of completion:
PRODUCT DESIGN: LIGHTING, FURNITURE
New Format Studio
The experiences that lead creatives to choose their career paths are varied, but for self-taught designer Henry Norris, the road to the future ran through an especially curious source: the trash. The Vancouver, BC–based practitioner got his start in design by welding dumpsters, but then began metalworking and went on to found the design and manufacturing firm New Format Studio in 2016. Just two years later, he won the British Columbia Achievement Foundation’s distinguished Carter Wosk Award in Applied Art + Design, which honors the best makers and designers in the province, and New Format Studio’s deft, quietly brilliant work—ranging from furniture to full interiors—was being shown throughout the United States and Canada.
At New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair in May, New Format presented its Plano cabinet as the centerpiece of its burnt orange–backdropped vignette. It was an instant hit: the stately vitrine’s spare, hand-shaped bronze frame holds curved frosted-glass panels, abstracting its contents into an interplay of shadow and light. Inside, steel-and-leather bottle slings, glass racks, shelving, storage, and custom hardware showcase New Format Studio’s skillful craftsmanship. “It represents a movement to the next level of our studio practice, [an] alignment with the artists we admire, and [the] creation of the truest expression of the work we want to make,” the studio writes in its entry. Monumental and imposing at 7½ feet high, yet simultaneously graceful and light, it is the distillation of how far Norris’s work has traveled from his modest start.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Date of completion:
PRODUCT DESIGN: OTHER
Eleven Madison Park Dinnerware
Upon walking into Eleven Madison Park, the New York restaurant once helmed by restaurateur Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm (the duo split in July), it’s hard to control one’s wandering eye. The space received a top-to-bottom redesign from New York– and Portland-based Allied Works two years ago, and one’s gaze goes straight to the chalkboard painting by Hungarian-American artist Rita Ackermann that commands the dining room—and then to the wood-topped tables, upholstered chairs, fabric-covered banquettes, gold-leaf ceiling, and other details informed by the space’s Art Deco heritage (E.M.P. resides in the former lobby of the landmarked Metropolitan Life North Building). It feels harmonious and complete, as a Gesamtkunstwerk should.
One bright star of the space is the dinnerware, an 18-piece suite made from raw porcelain and white glaze. Produced by Portland-based ceramics cooperative Mudshark Studios, the pieces have unglazed outer surfaces whose textured, muted feel echoes Humm’s cuisine. “The various pieces relate dimensionally, sharing a similar formal composition and progressive sequence of profiles and radii,” Allied Works wrote in its submission. “In order to create a subtle tension and definition within the surface of the table, the pieces appear to hover by means of a small, concealed ‘foot,’ a feature common in traditional ceramics.” After E.M.P. reopened in 2017 with its new design, Allied Works distributed a limited edition of 300 sets of the dinnerware collection—a smart move that allows die-hard E.M.P. fans to relive the experience, at least in part, any time they like.
New York, New York
Date of completion
Operation Vitamin D
Fraser + Fogle Architects
While Seattle’s reputation tends to take a hit for the rain, real Northwesterners know that the long months of winter entail not only downpours, but also days of overcast skies and thick, gray clouds. Now that the city is swinging out of autumn into the darker season, Fraser + Fogle Architects, a Seattle-based firm of interdisciplinary designers, is offering a conceptual project that could address the effect this notoriously glum weather has on the city’s inhabitants.
“The gloom’s impact on a population, characterized by a constellation of seasonal affective disorder symptoms, affects the mood of the [Pacific Northwest] region,” the firm writes in its submission, which imagines a scenario in which light boxes are installed in public areas, such as transit stations and pedestrian corridors, throughout the city to allow vitamin D–deprived individuals to “fuel up” as they wait for the bus or walk through a park. “At each of these [areas], interventions replace existing architectural elements to counter the effects of seasonal affective disorder. These illuminations, inter-connected by a network of sensors, activate upon movement, proximity, and touch to [allow the body to produce vitamin D] and provide moments of joy in an otherwise gloomy city,” the firm explains.
Fraser + Fogle Architects suggests a variety of delivery mechanisms for the light, from rectangular installations embedded in brick walls to large, boxlike structures that can double as benches in downtown plazas. Such architectural interventions are meant to fit seamlessly into existing or planned infrastructure, making it easy for pedestrians to get a quick dose of imperative fat-soluble secosteroids as they walk their dogs, jog to yoga, and go about their busy, cloudy Northwest days.
Date of completion:
Jack Johnston and Lulu McRoberts
Everyone allergic to nuts or bee stings knows the EpiPen routine. To counteract severe, potentially fatal reactions, you’re supposed to carry an EpiPen—a portable injection device that delivers epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways—with you wherever you go. In fact, doctors tell you to carry two, which means you’re always toting around some kind of bag because they’re too big for a pocket. What’s more, the device’s traditionally garish label uses formal language that’s hard to follow in the midst of an emergency and sometimes leads users to jab a thumb rather than a thigh. And while it’s necessary to see a doctor after using the EpiPen, dialing 911, locating the nearest hospital, and contacting family aren’t tasks the device can perform for you.
These inefficiencies are what University of Washington industrial design students Lulu McRoberts and Jack Johnston have tried to solve with PREPI, a prototype for an easier-to-use injection device. Modeled after a smartphone case, the PREPI device lives inside a cartridge that’s the size and thickness of a cardholder and has a connected app. When its carrier experiences an allergic reaction, she can remove the device from the cartridge, which automatically alerts her smartphone’s PREPI app while she performs the injection (guided by clear, simple instructions printed on the case that indicate the injection end). The app then gives her three options—“Notify paramedics,” “Notify loved ones,” or time and directions to the nearest hospital—at a single tap.
McRoberts and Johnston imagine making PREPI from injection-molded plastic and standard springs and syringes to reduce cost. “Upon pressing the inner housing against the thigh, springs in tension connected to a hollow pin snap upward and break open a CO2 cartridge,” the pair explain in their entry. “The needle is forced into the leg and injects medication. After the pressure equalizes, a secondary spring overcomes the syringe and permanently hides the needle back into the housing.” McRoberts and Johnston presented PREPI at the University of Washington Industrial Design Junior Showcase in June. “A woman came up to us and pulled out her EpiPens to compare the two,” the designers write. “[She said,] ‘Thank you for making this. I was just telling my family how important this is to me.’ We think this is a significant product, and we hope you do, too.”
Date of completion:
Prototype, June 2019
DESIGN FOR GOOD
Oregon Conservation Center
Mother Nature goes urbane
in Portland’s newly renovated and expanded Oregon Conservation Center. Designed by LEVER Architecture for The Nature Conservancy, an international environmental nonprofit, the headquarters, originally built in the 1970s, was converted from a boxy, nondescript space into an airy, organic environment that celebrates Pacific Northwest flora and fauna. The project has “transformed a dated office building into a collaborative hub that reflects the mission of this environmental nonprofit,” writes the firm in its submission.
Informed by TNC’s protected Pacific Northwest habitats, LEVER integrated materials and plantings from Oregon’s Rowena Plateau and Cascade-Siskiyou, as well as regional western hemlock and cedar forests, into the project. Juniper siding and cedar decking, sustainably harvested from TNC’s conservation sites, were used for the exterior and visually balanced by steel cladding that will weather naturally as the building ages.
To meet LEED Gold Certification
requirements, engineers installed rooftop photovoltaic cells that produce 25 percent of the building’s electrical supply and efficient systems and fixtures that reduce electric consumption. LEVER also opened up the originally dark, claustrophobic interior workspaces, transforming them into meeting rooms, a staff café and lounge, and a flexible gallery space. For the center’s 2,000-square-foot expansion, which includes a community room and roof-garden terrace, LEVER used cross-laminated timber panels certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The firm previously designed the first building in the United States made of domestically fabricated CLT, and the Oregon Conservation Center is one of the country’s earliest users of the sustainable material. LEVER notes that the use of local materials such as wood in the structure “enhances comfort and connects occupants to the neighborhood and the greater region.”