Author Archives: Kate Kearney

Assessing a Historic House in Springfield, Oregon

Owning, maintaining, and providing active use within a single family settlement era house is not a typical mission for a public parks agency. One such property is the Reynold & Eva Briggs House located in the northeast corner of the Dorris Ranch Living History Farm, in Springfield, Oregon, currently stewarded by Willamalane Parks and Recreation District (WPRD). Compounding the unusual situation is that the area is a historic site, a working farm, and a public park. In addition the property’s history, age, material, and conditions of the house add further complexity to the stewardship role. In order to guide the WPRD with long-range decisions regarding the Briggs House, the District sought an up to date exterior and interior condition assessment and potential rehabilitation options in support of current and future park programming needs, including as a source of income derived from continued residential use. The Briggs House has not been occupied since its last resident left in 2009.
Briggs-House

The Assessment
The property, The Dorris Ranch Living History Farm, was listed as a National Register of Historic Places Historic District on June 22, 1988. While the Briggs House is located on the ranch property, it sits outside the boundaries of the historic district.

As researched by University of Oregon historic preservation students, the settlement era house is one of the five oldest houses in the Springfield area and one of the city’s few remaining examples of box construction from the Homestead era. The oldest portion of the house—the two-story volume and its eastern wing—was originally constructed by George Thurston in 1872, and later served as the home of caretakers Reynold and Eva Briggs. Once vernacular in the Willamette Valley, the house exhibits a Gothic-influenced upright-and-wing style of construction and was expanded in the 1890’s to accommodate the changing needs of its residents.

Typical of early homestead sites, the Briggs House was constructed without a foundation. The original substructure that continues to support the house consists of partially hewn wood posts on stone piers set directly on the ground surface. Utilizing the box-construction method, 1-inch by 11-inch boards were set vertically and connected to the 7-inch by 9-inch sill plate and ledger plate above the posts to create a “box” form without the use of other framing members. Two-inch by 4-inch roof rafters were then set above the top ledger plates. Floor joists, the original board-and-battens wall siding, and roof panels were added to the house after its basic skeletal structure had been completed. The original wall siding was replaced with weatherboards at an unknown date. Portions of this siding were later replaced with shiplap in the 1890’s, and the entire exterior was later covered with T-111 siding in the 1970’s.
Briggs-House

The Rehabilitation Challenges
After discussing the main program activities that take place on Dorris Ranch with Willamalane Parks and Recreation District staff, PMA recognized the primary challenge to any rehabilitation options was the balance between maintaining the historic character of the house and meeting all the code requirements mandated by a rehabilitation, including public access, universal access, and mechanical, electrical, energy, and plumbing upgrades. Previous studies undertaken by Restore Oregon on similar settlement era houses indicated that a balance must be reached between preserving the essence of the house while changing and modifying other portions of the house and property to achieve programming needs. Complicating the Briggs House options are siting of the house within an active area of the park, the two story volume, the lack of an adequate structural foundation, and accommodating large classroom needs within original tiny floor plans. Every room of the historic property has an established spatial function and are tiny in size. Any rehabilitation option must consider that all rooms in the house would be “flexible” and be used as needed for a variety of purposes.

The Potential Role of Historic Status
Willamalane Parks and Recreation District currently stewards the Briggs House as a historic property by maintaining and protecting the property from encroachment by nature, animal and pest infestation, and unsafe use by park visitors. Inclusion of the property within the district as a contributing resource has both pro and con impacts. Inclusion within an expanded boundary of the current National Register Dorris Ranch Historic District could prove beneficial in finding financial sources to help with a rehabilitation although the available funds are likely insignificant when evaluated against the full cost required to upgrade the Briggs house to a public structure. On the other hand, including the property in the district may prove problematic for WPRD as it may limit, or make more difficult, viable and creative rehabilitation options that would not be approved by the local jurisdiction having authority.
Briggs-House

It is generally agreed that house museums (properties that are preserved as homes to be visited by the public) are not financially prudent uses to retain historic properties. Recent studies conclude that a compromise must occur between balancing original historic character with up to date and flexible programming space to achieve viable long-term solutions for unique homestead-era properties.

Written By Marion Rosas and Peter Meijer, AIA, NCARB / Principal

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Clark County Poor Farm Historic District, National Register Historic District Nomination

Peter Meijer Architect, PC (PMA) was retained by the Clark County Community Planning Department to write and submit a National Register nomination for the Clark County Poor Farm Historic District. PMA consulted with the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation regarding the National Register eligibility of the Clark County Poor farm and worked with Clark County staff to prepare a National Register of Historic Places District nomination for the Clark County Poor Farm Site. The nomination involved a district boundary evaluation and explanation, along with a thoroughly researched and detailed description of the district and its resources, the historic context and the overall historic significance the district.

PMA conducted on-site fieldwork to gather physical data to describe the district and its character-defining resources and features. The nomination addressed the 7 aspects of historic integrity: location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, association and feeling and how these aspects highlight and impact the significance of the district.

PMA supplemented the physical descriptions with research that supports the historic context and will develop a narrative that describes the district’s significant history and National Register eligibility. Research included local sources such as newspapers and the Historical Society, state records on poor farms, and the development history of the surrounding area. PMA’s research combined past studies to develop a thorough and effective district nomination. Clark County Poor Farm was added to the National Register on January 7th, 2013.

Abstract: Best Practices for Providing Effective Daylight in Mid-Century Modern Structures

When we think of energy conservation standards for our built environment an increasing amount of existing buildings do not comply with today’s standards. A large portion of these existing buildings are from the mid-century modern era. Additionally, mid-century modern buildings are approaching historic status, if not already there. This status compounds finding the best way to integrate current energy standards because aesthetic impacts to a historic resource must be kept to a minimum. At PMA we believe that while challenging, it is possible to maintain the integrity of historic mid-century modern buildings while meeting new energy conservation requirements. In an effort to explore this possibility, we have submitted an abstract for an upcoming Energy Conservation in Mid-Century Modern Buildings Symposium presented jointly by APT Northwest and DOCOMOMO_Oregon.
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Abstract: Best Practices for Providing Effective Daylight in Mid-Century Modern Structures
Effective daylighting can reduce both lighting and cooling loads while improving user comfort, satisfaction, and health. Despite plentiful glass, using daylight in mid-century modern building can be challenging. Glare and uneven light distribution can cause user discomfort and pose challenges to effectively daylighting spaces. Frequently, artificial lighting is used to balance lighting in spaces over lit by the sun, negating any potential energy savings. For existing buildings, the available methods to provide effective daylighting are limited by the existing constructions and configuration. To both preserve existing structures and provide ample daylight a critical question must be answered – what are the best practices for improving daylight in existing buildings? This study provides insight to daylighting existing structures, specifically, how light can be controlled and distributed in mid-century modern buildings with plentiful glazing.

Emerging tools and technologies provide effective methods of analyzing hundreds of different daylighting simulations. Applications such as Grasshopper and Dynamo allow users to explore a variety of different design interventions and determine optimal solutions. This study explores and analyzes how common daylighting strategies can be implemented on existing mid-century modern structures. The study focuses on a 1963 residential tower in Portland, Oregon, and explores how interior reflectivity, interior/exterior light shelves, shading, and glazing can impact daylight availability and distribution. The study looks at a variety of ways each strategy can be implemented and analyzes the results to determine best practices based on daylight distribution/availability, glare, lighting loads, and heating/cooling loads.

Speaker Bio
Halla Hoffer, AIA
Associate / Peter Meijer Architect, PC

Halla is passionate about rehabilitating historic and existing architecture by integrating the latest energy technologies to maintain the structures inherent sustainability. Halla joined PMA in 2012 and was promoted to Associate in 2016. She is a specialist in energy and environmental management, as well as building science performance for civic, educational, and residential resources. Halla meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Historic Preservation Professional Qualification Standards (36 CFR Part 61).

Integrating Universal Access with Historic Architecture

Oregon State University (OSU) is dedicated to providing universal accessibility throughout its Corvallis campus. The historic Memorial Union building opened in 1927, and is an important gathering place on campus. In its current configuration, the rotunda entry access poses challenges to complying with current ADA Standards for Accessible Design. PMA with our multidisciplinary team members are addressing how to improve the arrival experience starting from the Quad by focusing on the front door as the primary accessible entry, while retaining the buildings historic integrity. With an integrated approach there will be a primary travel path for all.

The existing limitations of accessibility to the MU are the existing ramps do not lead to the front entrance and the circulation through the rotunda requires use of non-compliant ramps. The existing exterior 1980s ramps were built interior of the terrace’s balustrade wall and access is not intuitive and requires signage. They take up significant portion of the historic terrace with circulation and railings.
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OPPORTUNITY FOR INTEGRATING UNIVERSAL ACCESS
The renovation of OSU MU Rotunda provides an opportunity to highlight the integration of universal access to historic properties. The vision for a new accessible path is integrated into the highly ordered Neo-classical design of the MU creating a symmetrical entry on either side of the grand entry stairs facing the quad. The design seeks to reactivate the formal side terraces by eliminating the clutter of handrails and circulation space that currently breaks up the space.

The new accessible pathway will be a sloped walkway along the exterior of the existing balustrade wall of the terraces. A 4.5 % sloped walkway will be integrated into the landscape and will free the space of guardrails. This will result in greater visibility of the accessible means of access to the building and restore the original spatial function of the terraces. Another slope walkway will lead from the terrace to the front entrance and will be integrated into a tiered landscape and informal setting area. The new design will reactive the terraces by streamlining circulation and providing new seating opportunities.

PROPOSED DESIGN OPTIONS
Two design options were explored for this scheme. The first design option removes a portion of the balustrade wall closest to the grand entry. This would open up views of the entry and terrace to the quad and provide additional visibility of the accessible pathway. The second option would leave the balustrade wall in place and would create more of an intimate feel along the terrace. Below are renderings of the first design option.
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We will update this entry as the project develops. Stay tuned!

Written by Hali Knight.

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Northwest Portland Residential Kitchen Desgin

PMA was commissioned for the remodel of a kitchen in a historic Queen Anne home in Kings Hill Historic District. PMA’s design included a new cabinet layout, counters, new appliances, lighting, and a refinished floor. The new design addresses the lack of counter space and dysfunction of the current layout, while providing a sophisticated aesthetic.

At the core of the design is the material and color palette. The cool grey scheme put together by PMA reflected the client’s taste. The cool shadow grey of the walls is juxtaposed by the Nordic white finish of the cabinets. Cornice is introduced back into the kitchen and matches the color of the cabinets. The counters are Bristol blue granite, 2 cm deep, which complement the color of the walls. Tile along the backsplash is a geometric matte white porcelain tile. The lower cabinets are solid wood, Brookhaven Pasadena recessed door panels and solid faced draws, with a matte painted finish. This style is neat style where the cabinetry frames is with flush draw and door panels. To open the space, the upper cabinets feature frosted glass central panels.The feature lighting are simple pendant globe lights over the center bar and small flush-mount blubs symmetrically placed throughout the kitchen. Under cabinet lights enable work station lighting at each counter surface, while the upper cabinets are lit from behind to create ambient lighting. PMA proposed 3 refinish options for the hardwood floor. The client’s preference was to match the floors in the rest of the house. The preferred option is a warm honey oak finish, which compliments the overall cool grey color schemes and highlights the blue granite counters. The additional two options provide a more contrasted tonal option that allows the kitchen to be differentiated from the rest of the house.

Preservation Month 2017

May is Preservation Month! Review ten (10) handy preservation resources:

ONE – We explore some factors and opinions on new construction in Historic Districts.
PMAPDX OSU Buildable Landarea

TWO – An iconic example of a landmarked building less than 50 years old.
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THREE – Visit Oregon’s SHPO website to browse historic sites, NR listings, & available grants.
Union Station Historic/Seismic Renovation

FOUR – Get to know your local architectural styles from the 1840s – 1970s.
Hillsboro J-B House

FIVE – Pledge your support for a rehabilitated VMC because this place matters.


SIX – How you can find a historic place in the state of Washington.
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SEVEN – Tax Incentives for Preserving Historic Properties.
USCH Courtyard

EIGHT – Oregon’s Most Endangered Places via Restore Oregon.
PMAPDX modern survey historic photo

NINE – Keeping It Modern. An architectural conservation grants for 20th century buildings.


TEN – How Historic Preservation is Reviving America’s Communities.
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Joseph Vance Building

At the request of Jonathan Rose Companies/Kidder Mathews, Peter Meijer Architect, PC, (PMA) was retained to provide a limited exterior condition assessment of the terra cotta veneer at the Joseph Vance Building in Seattle, WA. PMA was initially contracted to observe repair work being performed by Pioneer Masonry Restoration (Pioneer). While onsite several significant deficiencies were noted on the west elevation. PMA recommended a complete assessment of the west elevation to understand the source of the observed deficiencies. Exterior observations were conducted from swing stage equipment located on the west elevation of the building. The south elevation was observed during review of Pioneer’s repair work and is discussed in the following report, however detailed observations on the elevation were not included in this scope of work. The short east elevation was also not assessed as part of this investigation. The purpose of the assessment was to provide Jonathan Rose Companies/Kidder Mathews with an understanding of the existing conditions, potential causes of terra cotta deterioration and repair recommendations.

The Joseph Vance Building was built in 1929 .The building is fourteen stories high and constructed with a concrete structure and concrete infill between structural columns. The west and south elevations have a decorative terra cotta veneer facade. On the east elevation the primary material is painted concrete/stucco, with a small section of terra cotta veneer along the southern most portion of the structure. The north elevation is entirely painted concrete/stucco.

Long Term Impacts of Masonry Waterproofing Sealers

Product X works as a masonry sealer, but what are the long-term ramifications of using Product X on masonry buildings? Masonry sealers come in a wide variety of formulations, but how do the various chemical compositions react to environmental conditions and what affect does the formulation have on the masonry? Most masonry waterproofing sealers specified by architects and conservators, installed by contractors, and requested by property owners are based on Silicone (═Si═ ) chemistry. There are three popular groups of silicone based materials being used as waterproofing materials: 1) silicates, 2) the group of silane, siloxane, siliconate; and 3) silicones. Silicates, similar to Product X, provide waterproofing properties by filling the pore structure of building materials with silicon dioxide (SiO2) precipitation. Common silicates are sand, Portland cement, and other natural occurring minerals. Silanes, siloxanes and siliconates provide waterproofing properties by bonding with the substrate. They are often referred to as penetrating sealers. Silicones do not form chemical bonds with the substrate. Silicones provide waterproofing properties by forming a non-bonded film. Such products are labeled as thin-film sealers.
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Silicates
Silicates are most commonly used in crystalline type water proofing agents for concrete. Their use is generally focused on concrete substrates. However, it is known that strongly alkaline, aqueous solutions of methyl silicates can be used to impregnate masonry. Such solutions often depend upon caustic soda for their alkalinity. Impregnation of masonry with such solutions is often disadvantageous, however, particularly due to the high alkalinity. For example, the high caustic soda content of the solution will cause a gradual removal of the organosilicon compounds from the interstices of the masonry by chemical combination with the surfaces of the masonry surrounding the interstitial voids. Moreover, the caustic soda solution reacts with carbon dioxide or other acidic components of the air which gives rise to salting out and the formation of efflorescence on the masonry. (1)

Silane, Siloxane, Silconates
Silane, siloxane, silconates are penetrating type of sealants. Their effectiveness is dependend on the porosity of the substrate and the dosage of repellant applied. Each manufacturer will have unique requirements for the application and dwell time of their sealer. Silanes and siloxanes form a chemical bond with siliceous containing materials. Silanes and siloxanes go through three reactions when applied to a masonry surface: hydroloysis, condensation, and bonding. During the condensation phase, the moisture vapor transmission rate is critical to preventing moisture accumulation behind the sealer layer.

With penetration type sealers, it is critical to the longevity of substrate (masonry) that the moisture vapor transmission of the sealer is actually known. There has been very little third party testing of vapor transmission and each product manufacturer provides varying ways of testing transmission. In addition, the active ingredient content of the sealer formulation and the coverage rate will greatly affect the moisture vapor transmission. In other words, performance in the field will vary greatly from highly controlled laboratory testing.

Siliconates are water soluble and they impart water repellency on porous surfaces. A drawback to using diluted siliconate solution for waterproofing applications is that siliconates react with carbon dioxide and carbonatious matters present in the substrate to form a water repellent, water-insoluble, white colored precipitate. This white layer may become quite visible and require aggressive removal procedures resulting in objectionable appearance or scarification of the surface during removal processes.

Silicone
The effectiveness of silicone sealer depends on the alkyl group used (which directly influences its resistance to alkaline conditions), the amount of exposure to ultraviolet light and the level of moisture in the masonry when the silicone is applied. (2)

The proliferation of masonry coatings on the market, and the continued pervasive use of the coatings, requires the architect, engineer, contractor, and conservator become more knowledgeable on the wide variety of coating formulations, the continued evolution of those formulations, and understand both the right application of the product and potential detrimental effects of using the wrong product on historic substrates.

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CASE STUDY: WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY, DUNCAN DUNN HALL
In preparation of a major renovation, Peter Meijer Architect, PC was retained in 2010 to conduct a general exterior condition assessment of Duncan Dunn Hall on the campus of Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.

Duncan Dunn was constructed in 1926 as a women’s dormitory for Washington State University, then named Washington State College. It is located in the heart of the WSU campus, facing north towards Linden Avenue. First known as the “New Dorm,” the building cost $150,000.00 to build at that time, and could house 140 students. The architect, Stanley Smith, was the head of the department of architectural engineering and was also the official University Architect.
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The predominant material present on Duncan Dunn is a solid brick unit, brownish red in color, and approximately 8” x 3 7/8” x 2 3/8” in size. At the time of assessment the brick had a very prominent unsightly, white coating over 60% of the masonry facades.

WSU-PMAPDX_masonry_sealers-003Believing the white haze was a result of UV degradation of a masonry sealer, PMA conducted Reunion Internationale des Laboratoires D’essais et de Recherches sur les Materiaux et les Constructions (RILEM) tube tests of water absorption on the exterior brick on Duncan Dunn Hall. The area of brick chosen for the test was out of direct sunlight to avoid affecting the results and was conducted during dry weather. No movement of the water over a 45 minute period was recorded during the test. Masonry units, even those constructed with high quality clays under controlled firing conditions will absorb some water. The results of the field test on Duncan Dunn, along with the white surface haze, reinforced the assumption of the presence of a masonry coating.

Communication with WSU personnel and their internal research surmised that “the building may have had a sealer put on after the original construction. [WSU cannot verify the application through original records] but do know [that a sealer] was not used on a regular basis after [construction completion.] Back in the 70’s some “miracle sealer” of some sort was introduced on Campus and used at a few locations. Duncan Dunn Hall was among the buildings [receiving masonry sealers.] Today you can see the remnants of this as a white powdery surface that almost looks like efflorescence. [WSU] does not know the name of [the sealer] product.”

To confirm the presence of the sealer, PMA conducted lab testing via polarized light microscopy (PLM) episcopic microscopy, capillary fusion and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) per ASTM D1245 and E1252, respectively. FTIR indicated the material to be Poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate), an initially water-miscible acrylic polymer that in these samples is at present very brittle and sloughs rather easily.Testing confirmed the presence of a “water-miscible acrylic polymer”. Due to chemical breakdown under UV, the chalky coating remaining on Duncan Dunn is no longer soluble in water.Because of the insoluble nature of the white haze, low pressure hot-water cleaning methods would not be successful. PMA recommended the Rotec Vortex cleaning system using a mirco-abrasive mixture of dolomite, water, and air. Ultimately this removal processes was successful with no damage to the masonry surface.

(1) Patent application for new formulation of sealers. (2) Types of Masonry Water Repellents, GSA web site. Information derived from ProSoCo Inc. product literature.

Written by Peter Meijer AIA, NCARB / Principal

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Historic Atrium Lighting Design

The concepts for our lighting schemes were based on the intended function of each identical space. The focus of the design and specified need of the client was to provide lighting for evening social gatherings, networking, and overall entertaining. Lighting needed to be adequate enough for speakers presenting to a crowd and for listeners to be able to read any related literature. Therefore, it was crucial to design lighting schemes that could provide ample lighting for evening events without compromising the historic integrity and ambiance of each space.

The prominent design goal was to increase overall light levels through a refined, modern scheme that would provide juxtaposition to the historic architectural elements and hanging sculpture. As in any historic project, it is important to avoid solutions that are faux historic, competing with, compromising, or confusing the original historic character. The few pragmatic design parameters defined by the client allowed for design freedom to provide several unique, distinct solutions.

While creating our designs, PMA experimented with the type of fixtures (down lights, sconce, defused) and placement of these fixtures within the large volume of the atriums. PMA explored these options in a Revit model of the atrium spaces, which enabled evaluation of the design solutions through lifelike renderings that portrayed the quality and levels of light.

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Union Station Historic Renovation

Union Station is a historic and recognizable landmark within the City of Portland. PMA is part of an interdisciplinary team responsible for the revitalization and restoration of the buildings, platform, and tracks at Portland Union Station. The Renovation includes conditions assessments, visioning activities, related stakeholder outreach/coordination meetings, and other project teams A, B, and C coordination activities.

PMA is the lead Historic Architect responsible for the development of the vision for Union Station- including future programming/space utilization & exterior canopy design; identification of the central design issues and alternatives; and the assessment and documentation of existing building exterior / interior conditions.