After three successful years, PIVOT Architecture is pleased to announce that applications for the 2020 PIVOT Fellowship are now being accepted. Application deadline is March 2, 2020. The Fellowship term runs from June to September.
The Fellowship is open to University of Oregon BARCH, BIARCH, MARCH, and MIARCH students for the summer preceding their final year of study. One student will be selected following an application process that includes review of the candidates’ proposals for a project of their choice to be executed over the summer of the Fellowship.
Meet the 2019 PIVOT Fellow, Luigi Ghersi. Originally from Peru, Luigi is a graduate student at University of Oregon and attended undergrad at Utah, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Architectural Studies. We sat down with Luigi to pick his brain about the Fellowship, his future, and his vision for architecture.
PIVOT: How did you hear out about the PIVOT Fellowship?
LUIGI: I saw the flyer on campus and I thought it was a great opportunity. I also met the previous fellow, Yvonne, and she talked about how great of an experience it was. Before I applied, I collaborated with professor Gerald Gast on a research project about school design for low-income Colombian students through the Pies Descalzos Foundation, a non-profit started by Colombian singer Shakira. This helped me shape research topic I eventually proposed for my fellowship with PIVOT. And, actually, when I moved to Eugene, PIVOT was one of the first places I stopped by to get an internship. It did not work out because of the timing, but I was always really interested in joining the team.
P: And why did you want to work with PIVOT?
L: I really like the work that the firm does, from transit to schools. I’m very interested in community-centric projects. I love public work and civic architecture – especially when they are applied in conjunction with ethical design practices. PIVOT’s experience with this type of work resonated with me.
P: What you’re talking about – this civic work and ethically serving the community – could be achieved through politics or non-profit work. Why do it through architecture? How did you find yourself going down this path?
L: I got inspired during undergrad. I took this amazing architecture class called “The Human Dimension.” It was a class that, under the surface, is about feminism, career theory, gender studies, and just general theory within architecture. We talked about philosophers who, of course, aren’t necessarily architects, but they talk a lot about architects. For instance, French philosopher Michel Foucault has a bone to pick with modernists. He claims that modernists tend to heavily dictate what the design program is going to be, based on their own ideology, without taking the community and specific users into consideration. And this can create places that are hostile towards certain individuals – people can feel defeated or excluded. They are pushed aside. I don’t necessarily agree with everything Foucault says, but that stuck with me and made me more engaged with post-structuralism and the works of other 20th century French philosophers. Later, I read a book by Jeremy Till called Architecture Depends. It’s about the practice of architecture and how it lines up with the ethicality of the practice. When I first started in architecture, I really didn’t think that this would be my focus within the field – the ethical obligation of architecture. I knew that I wanted to practice architecture because I liked the convergence of all the arts into one space. But at the beginning, I couldn’t pinpoint why I liked that convergence, let alone ponder our responsibilities while designing these spaces.
P: In that case, what did draw you to architecture in the first place?
L: To be honest, it started because of ego. A lot of architects, especially in the old days, became superstars. They created these big monuments to honor themselves. As I learned more about the theory behind it, I began to change my vision. I want to see this profession as more of a public servant, instead of just seeing it as an artist who wants to create a narrative.
P: Shifting gears, this is your last summer of being a student. By this time next year, you’ll have your graduate degree. And then what?
L: I am trying to become a licensed architect as soon as possible. Eventually, I want to work on projects that have good meaning and that have a positive impact on the community. I want to feel purpose with my work.
P: Being in a graduate program is a great opportunity to keep-up on trends about the profession as you learn and grow. What do you see on the horizon for architecture that is particularly interesting or exciting to you?
L: I feel like architecture has the opportunity to respond to current topics of emergency. For instance, with climate or over-population, we’re at a crossroads where things can go in a really terrible direction, or we can try to make something that can be beneficial to humanity and catalysts for change. We can also start to think about how architecture can change opinions on certain types of buildings or technologies: For example, what is a school? And what can it be? What is a living space? What is a work space? What is a government building? And so on. As society and culture change, architecture has to evolve with it. I love questioning everything in order to explore the possibilities of design.
P: Is there anything, not related architecture, that’s a fun fact or something unique about you?
L: I read a lot of comics. I build miniature models at home. I’m really into music. I play guitar. I used to play in a rock band back in Salt Lake for four years. I also have a radio show on KWVA where I play music, and I talk over the songs sometimes. Music is a big thing for me. I also realized I’m really interested in philosophy and theory – especially as they relate to (or can be translated into) architecture.
P: Is there a specific piece of architecture that speaks to you? Do you have a favorite? Something that you look at as influential? Something so unique and different that you’re glad it’s on the earth?
L: There was. I have a favorite building and it usually gets a little bit of an eyebrow-raise whenever I say it’s the now-defunct Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. It was demolished in the early 90s, but it was basically a high-rise shanty town like you’d see in dystopian movies. It served many purposes over the years. The area used to be a military outpost before World War II. By the 60s, there was no government oversight because of some technicality with the Chinese and British governments. With no government enforcement, people built, settled, and grew these massive, tall structures. They just started stacking, and stacking, and stacking. It was demolished in the early 90s, but during its peak, it was the densest space in the world. It was incredible. It was like its own world. It had no electrical access. People stole electricity from outside. The only places to get water were through old wells that were outside the settlement. There was a lot of criminal activity. There was a lot of drug activity. Anyone would question its value, but to me it represented the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of creating something better for people in difficult situations. People made the best out of that place. They organized themselves and cared for each other. People started businesses, there was manufacturing, and real sense of community.
It’s important to me that Kowloon City wasn’t made out of pretty buildings. That’s not to say I don’t want to make pretty buildings, but I feel like architecture gets too sucked into aesthetics without really looking at the essence of what a building is – what a building is supposed to do. I’m interested in the spirit of the building. I’m interested in its story.
Curt Wilson Named Interim Executive Director of AIA Oregon
PIVOT Architecture is pleased to announce that Principal Curt Wilson has been appointed Interim Executive Director of AIA Oregon – the premiere advocacy group for architects in the state. The new appointment means that Curt will be transitioning out of the PIVOT family over the next few months. He will continue to support his clients and be a strong leader in the office through late-summer. “Curt’s enthusiasm and way of caring about his clients has inspired our team here at PIVOT for many years,” says Principal John Stapleton. “His boundless energy and leadership have been immeasurably impactful in the firm and community,” adds Principal Larry Banks. “We know he will bring that same enthusiasm to his new position with AIA Oregon.”
Curt joined PIVOT shortly after graduating with a Master’s Degree from University of Oregon in 1990. He was made a firm Partner in 1999. He holds an architecture license in four states. During his 29 years at PIVOT, Curt has worked tirelessly – always putting his relationships with clients first. In addition to his design work and leadership, Curt has been a staunch advocate for Oregon architects though his role of Vice President of Legislative Affairs for AIA Oregon. Curt’s experience and advocacy make him uniquely suited to take on the Executive Director role for the organization – representing and guiding architects throughout the state. “Curt has an amazing passion for architecture,” praises Principal Kari Turner. “In his new role, he will be able to channel that passion for the good of the profession and for all of us who work within the field of design and construction.”
Of course, Curt’s valued relationships extend beyond his clients to the entire PIVOT staff. “I am so grateful to have worked with Curt for the last 12 years at PIVOT,” says Principal Kelley Howell. “His energy, commitment, and drive have left a strong imprint in my professional development. I know he will make an excellent leader in the AIA Oregon community.” And Principal Toby Barwood, who has been partners with Curt for more than 10 years, agrees. “When we heard he was picked to lead AIA Oregon,” says Barwood, “it seemed like a natural fit. We couldn’t be more excited.”
All 35 members of the PIVOT team are appreciative for the time and dedication Curt has given to the firm during the last three decades and are looking forward to seeing the bright future ahead for Curt, PIVOT, and architecture in Oregon.
About PIVOT Architecture
PIVOT Architecture has been shaping the communities of the Willamette Valley and beyond for more than 60 years. Their 35 employees provide architecture, planning, and inspired interior design services to a variety of public and private clients. Projects range from office remodels to new school campuses and from industrial facilities in smaller communities to iconic transit stations in cities throughout the western United States.
PIVOT Architecture Announces New Principal
PIVOT Architecture is pleased to announce the appointment of John Stapleton as the newest Partner.
Stapleton has been an integral part of the PIVOT team since 2007, and spent more than 15 years in the construction industry prior to joining the architecture world. He is a LEED accredited professional – contributing to the health, wellness, and long-term sustainability of structures in the Willamette Valley – and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
“John brings big-picture and strategic thinking to our partnership group,” explains Partner Kari Turner. “He’s connected to a variety of industries and is passionate about leveraging those connections to enhance our community. He’s always looking for ‘what comes next.’” And Partner Tobias Barwood agrees: “John’s view is long and broad, as many strong thinkers tend to be.”
During his time at PIVOT, Stapleton has become an expert and invaluable resource in a myriad of sectors. His research and insight into Career Technical Education (CTE) has made him an industry leader on the future of Kindergarten through 12th grade educational infrastructure. His education work in the greater Eugene area includes the recent construction of Howard and River Road Elementary Schools and remodeling projects for schools in Monroe. But his talent extends beyond local school districts. Stapleton’s work can be seen at Lane Transit District, TriMet in Portland, Oregon Country Fair, and multiple private facilities around Lane County.
“I’m honored by the trust and confidence shown by the PIVOT Partners in offering me this opportunity,” says Stapleton. “I look forward to the years of good work we’ll be doing together for our clients and community.”
Now with six Principals, PIVOT continues to be one of the largest and most influential architecture firms in the region. In addition to Stapleton, Turner, and Barwood, PIVOT Partners include Larry Banks, Kelley Howell, and Curt Wilson.