October 22, 2015

5 Reasons to Build an ADU

by: Taz Loomans

Tweet [I originally wrote this article for the Communitecture blog, where I work as an architect.] What do accessory dwelling units (ADU) have to do with Portland’s state of emergency for housing? Everything. Accessory dwellings are the great compromise between adding density and preserving the single-family fabric that Portlanders have come to love and depend on. They are a great answer to adding housing options in the city without giving up much of the character that makes Portland what it is. [Side Note for Those Not Familiar with ADUs: What the heck is an accessory dwelling unit? It’s what a…

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Tweet Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has declared a state of emergency for housing and homelessness in the city. With a vacancy rate of 2.5-3.2%, less than half of that in a healthy housing market, and a 30% increase in rents in that last 5 years, it certainly feels like a state of emergency to everyone from the homeless to the working poor to artists and even to middle class professionals. City Club held the first of a two-part forum on Friday to address the issue of affordable housing. On the panel were Israel Bayer, executive director of Street Roots, Martha…

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August 03, 2015

An Entreaty to Young Women in Architecture

by: Taz Loomans

Tweet Architecture is all about art and beauty and feeling good inside a building right? Wrong. Architecture is also all about codes and actual wood framing sizes vs nominal and how are you going to make sure that skylight won’t leak. Recently, I started working for a firm called Communitecture as a project manager/project architect. We are so busy that we are looking for another person who can lead projects by herself as well. We’ve talked with quite a few people and looked at quite a few resumes. What has become apparent in our search is that there are plenty…

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Tweet It’s not easy to be a Muslim in America. After 9-11 Muslims have been a target of discrimination and suspicion and have been painted as “anti-American”. As recently as last month there was an armed anti-Islam demonstration at an Arizona mosque. Continued violence perpetrated by extremists around the world has put Muslims in America, who themselves have nothing to do with that violence, in a position of constantly having to defend themselves and their religion. I was raised as a Muslim, but no longer practice. But my family still does and I very much still feel connected to the…

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Tweet If you’ve seen the curvy and colorful cob structures around the city of Portland, chances are good that you’re seeing the work of the Village Building Convergence (VBC), an annual placemaking festival organized by City Repair which is celebrating its 15th year. The 10-day festival is underway this week and its going stronger than ever. It’s main mission is to facilitate hands-on volunteer labor towards making various community-building projects around the city become a reality. This year’s projects include 22 intersection painting projects, 8 landscaping/gardening projects and 9 building projects, such as making earthen plaster walls for buildings, cob…

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Tweet Two weeks ago I was at an event where I was completely inspired and utterly disappointed at the same time. Design Museum Portland screened Making Space: 5 Women Changing the Face of Architecture at the Hollywood Theater and by the end of it I felt like I could change the world. But I was deflated by the fact that the audience was overwhelmingly comprised of women and such few men attended. No doubt this movie is of interest to women architects, but what wasn’t obvious, apparently, is that it is of interest to, and maybe even more important for,…

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Tweet Philadelphia University has a blog aimed at prospective architecture students called Built@PhilaU. The authors recently interviewed me about the meaning of architecture and the role of sustainability in the profession. Below is the interview. You can find the original interview here. Taz Loomans of The Blooming Rock Blog loves everything about architecture, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things that she would like to see change in her lifetime. Here, Loomans discusses some of what she loves the most about the field and what she hopes will change in the future. Architecture means a lot of things to…

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March 09, 2015

Designing Safe Cities for Women

by: Taz Loomans

Tweet In honor of International Women’s Day, today’s post is about designing safe cities for women. Even today, many women in the world don’t feel safe, welcome or comfortable being in the public realm. In many places women are still relegated to the confines of their homes with no place in public for them. In places like Saudi Arabia, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and other countries, a woman is considered unvirtuous (and a target for harassment or worse) if she even dares to appear in public by herself. Even in cosmopolitan, bustling urban centers like Bombay, “women are at best…

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February 23, 2015

Architecture as if People and the Planet Mattered

by: Taz Loomans

Tweet Last week I watched a Peruvian documentary on the lives of local musicians called I’m Still, screened as part of the Portland International Film Festival. It displayed stunning imagery of mountain-top villages in remote areas of the country where indigenous musicians played their violins, harps and guitars and sang folk songs. I was struck by the indigenous architecture of these villages, which comprised of hand-built stone masonry walls and clay tile roofs. They were beautiful buildings built by families generations ago, perfectly scaled to Peruvian human proportions and completely fitting of Puruvian native lifestyles. Moreover, they blended in with…

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February 15, 2015

The Future of the Library

by: Taz Loomans

Tweet Thanks to Google, e-books, Amazon.com, and book store caf├ęs among other factors, libraries are changing at a breakneck speed. Libraries used to be where you looked things up, and now you can look anything up practically at any time if your smartphone is within easy reach, which for many it is all the time. But what about the community development role of the library in society? By not using the library as a resource in the same way, are we losing a sense of community when so much information is at our fingertips without ever having to get up…

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