Approach to Building and Architecture

Aron Faegre and Associates works on projects ranging from public parks, police stations, and libraries to private single family houses. A common theme runs through most of the projects: the promoting of a positive relationship between man and nature. Architecture, engineering, and design work are initiated to meet a human need or purpose. However, there are always many different ways to accomplish design goals. Aron Faegre and Associates attempts to find ways to meet the specific human needs, while also achieving a positive connection to nature. This may be in the form of gardens inside or outside the building, it may be in the type of natural construction materials that are used, or it may be in the siting of new construction work so that it fits into the larger landscape. It may involve accomplishing a project in a sensitive way that avoids impacting nature resources that exist downstream of the project.

Music, Theater, and Cultural Facilities

Aron Faegre and Associates has had a long interest in assisting with the design of theater spaces, dance halls, performance spaces, art centers, literary retreats, and hospitality facilities with arts themes. A unique work example is the design of the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, a renovation of an historic building into a hotel with a literary theme. Each room is furnished on a theme of a specific author. An upstairs library is designed to promote both reading and discussions about books and ideas. The "Tables of Contents" dining room utilizes communal tables, and is renowned for Friday night dinners, when the owner/hosts lead "two truths and a lie" -- a participatory storytelling event that involves all present. Many times true life is stranger than fiction. Then of course there was the development of the Echo Theatre, the Sumus Theatre, the Multnomah Arts Center, the Clyde Rice writers' retreat, and many other arts related projects.

Aviation-related Projects

"The airplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

Aron Faegre and Associates has developed specialized expertise in the planning, design, and engineering of aviation related projects. This is in part related to Aron Faegre's personal interest in aviation as a seaplane and landplane pilot. But more generally, the work has involved assisting in finding ways to make aviation facilities more community and nature friendly. This has involved working with airport and community groups to develop noise abatement plans that minimize disruption of a community's needs for quiet. In addition it has involved environmental analysis of airport facilities to promote a better fit between an airport and the surrounding environment. Lastly, Aron Faegre has a special interest in aviation as a high tech transportation mode. The science of aviation has in a short period of time led from biplane to space shuttle. The development of satellites now allows both for newfound understanding of natural processes on the global scale, as well as planetary and solar research on out of our solar system, galaxy and beyond. Aron Faegre and Associates uses aviation as a tool to photograph, map, and gain understandings of the site and landscape surroundings for each of our specific projects -- whether they be urban, rural, or wilderness sites. Projects have ranged from: PDX Business Terminal, to HTS Maintenance Facility, airport master plans for 10 Oregon airports, to many hospital heliports.

Historic Renovation & Building Reuse

The firm has been involved with many aspects of historic properties, ranging from: creation of historic district, nomination of buildings to the national register, renovation of historic buildings to meet current ADA and seismic requirements, and reuse of historic buildings to meet modern program needs. Projects have included creation of a Somerville MA Historic District, to restoration of the historic "Cliff House" in Newport as the new "Sylvia Beach Hotel", to recreation of A.E. Doyle's Public Service Building storefront in downtown Portland.

Residential Projects

Residential projects at Aron Faegre and Associates focuses on the creating of a "dwelling" place. The forms, colors, and materials of the home should be an extending outwards of the contents. The contents are the life of the people who will live there and include their friends and extended family who will visit. For each person and family the sense of home or dwelling will be different. We work with you to uncover and define a house and landscape design that will enrich your life and provide a stable place from which the rest of your activities can be based. Unless you are exceptionally in need of excitement, it will likely be a place of calm and rejuvenation. Aron Faegre and Associates specializes in: organizational camp housing, bunk housing, tree houses, underground houses, caretaker housing, alcohol and drug-free community housing, housing for people with HIV, and low-income family housing.

Land Use Planning

Zoning and land use planning laws provide an intended norm for architects and developers to follow. However, there are many public or community needs and uses which are only permitted through special land use reviews. These typically include: garbage dumps, schools, airports, community centers, police stations, fire stations, and public parks. Aron Faegre and Associates has prepared zone changes, comprehensive plan changes, conditional use permits, and zoning adjustments for all of these various types of special land uses. Success in this type of work requires honest and meaningful dialogue with the neighbors and communities close to the proposed use. And of course the purpose and need, potential impacts, and community mitigation and benefits must be securely identified and described so that the decision-making process is a knowledgeable one. The firm's experience is that most projects can be put into a form where they are a win-win situation -- the applicant gets the needed facility and the community gains strong direct or indirect benefits that they truly want. Projects have ranged from drug treatment centers, to garbage transfer stations, to heliports, to property line adjustments, to land divisions, to federal/state/local permitting for zone changes.

Some Ideas

Can there be:

  • A landscape planting design where the flowers of each different season blooms to expose the bright outline of a different animal shape, when seen from a distance?
  • A building complex designed as a fishing pond, surrounded by a greenspace, surrounded by a building, surrounded by suspension bridges, fire poles, and bicycle ramps leading like a river through it all?
  • A planning agency willing to try a form of Mandelbrot's new "fractal geometry" of nature for their zoning regulations, in lieu of the 2,300 year old "Euclidean geometry" currently in practice, so that the plan can from the start mimic nature's interconnectedness of uses?
  • Interior and exterior colors selected from the palate of ruddy red spring Cottonwood leaf sprouts, the deep green of summer's leaf fullness, to fall's reds and winter's crumpled browns?
  • A building and landscape designed using NetLogo Individual Based Modeling, similar to that used for ecological habitat studies?

Lineage & Mentors

What do architects profess - what is this ancient profession? With interest in all aspects of design and construction, there are no easy words for it. In medieval times those with broad interests in buildings were called "master builders."

The great American biologist Aldo Leopold, my father's teacher, was in some ways my first mentor. While living an early hunter and gatherer life in Northern Canada, I was taught Leopold's vision that everything can be understood as an interconnected ecosystem. At the age of 16 I left home with a backpack on my back, to learn from Henry David Thoreau. Hitchhiking from the Midwest to Walden Pond, I slept in the Concord jail meditating on his Civil Disobedience writings, next night slept near to the site of Thoreau's small cabin, and then visited the Emerson Residence for my dinners. From there I went to college and studied the great works of the humanities, math, and physics, and specialized in creating a computer model of the earth's climate system to predict man's potential impact on future climates - discovering that there is an "ice-covered earth" which we could slip into. Next were academic studies in architecture, engineering, and landscape at east coast schools, which included an apprenticeship with the great American photographer Minor White. My formal apprenticeship in the practice of architecture, engineering, and landscape design took place in San Francisco, with mentors linked to the National Park architect Ted Spencer, his friend, photographer Ansel Adams, and to poets Gary Snyder and Lew Welch. Since then, I have simply worked hard, for each project that has come my way, to try to make it as great as it can be.