Little Deschutes Lodge II Wins Sustainability Award

BLRB’s work on Pacific Crest Affordable Housing’s Little Deschutes Lodge II in La Pine, Oregon, was named a winner of the inaugural Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits Renewable Energy Power Awards. Owned by Little Deschutes Lodge 2 LLC, the south Deschutes County project was honored in the small community project category.

The award presentation was made in April 2014 in front of renewable energy industry practitioners attending the Financing Renewable Energy Conference in San Francisco, California.

Little Deschutes Lodge II is a 26-unit, low-income housing tax credit development in La Pine, Oregon. The lodge-style apartment complex offers energy-efficient lighting and ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, as well as a 32.2 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system.

In addition, a solar thermal system with 12 panels and four 120-gallon water tanks, a geothermal cooling and heating system with four miles of underground piping, five heat pumps and an energy recovery ventilation system provide the heating and cooling. 

R&W Engineering estimates that the energy-efficient measures will save 298,992 kW and more than $20,000 annually. The energy project received federal investment tax credits of over $50,000 for the complete system.

Meadow Crest Recognized by Governor Inslee

The City of Renton and the Renton School District were recently awarded a 2014 Smart Communities Award from Washington State Governor Jay Inslee for the Meadow Crest Early Learning Center & Accessible Playground, designed by BLRB Architects.
The 68,760-square-foot facility houses up to 450 preschool students and is organized to foster student safety, security and inclusion. Classrooms, meeting spaces and play areas are grouped into small wings, which allow children to move between spaces easily and experience their surroundings at an appropriate scale.
Multi-purpose rooms and meeting spaces were designed to flexibly accommodate a variety of functions and group sizes, with the ability to segregate them from student areas, allowing for 
both educational and community use of the facility.

Now in its ninth year, the Smart Communities Awards program recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to quality of life in Washington State.
“These projects help create and sustain a thriving economic climate and strengthen our ability to lead in the global economy,” said Gov. Inslee. “Washington is a great state in which to live and do business thanks to these examples of leadership and innovation in community planning and development.”

BLRB Selected for Tacoma Valhalla Hall Study

BLRB Architects was recently selected by the City of Tacoma to perform a feasibility study for the adaptive reuse and redevelopment of the former Valhalla Hall, a 15,000-square-foot building located at 1216 Martin Luther King Jr Way in Tacoma.
Currently in the beginning stages of the project, BLRB is working with the Tacoma Community Redevelopment Authority BLRB to identify the most viable development option for the property.

The current plan is to rehabilitate the building with respect to the neighborhood’s historic properties and convert it into a mixed-use facility with both commercial and residential space. 

BLRB Architects Adds Seven Team Members

BLRB Architects recently hired seven new team members to continue the high level of service the firm provides its clients throughout the region.

Jamie Sandburg is a talented architectural designer who brings significant experience with public facility design and sustainable design features. She is a graduate of Washington State University’s Architecture program, earning Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architecture degrees. Her recent experience includes the design of a LEED Platinum Community Center for the Tacoma Housing Authority’s new housing project in the Hilltop neighborhood.

Nickolas Watkins joined BLRB as an Intern Architect, bringing recent experience on a variety of public and private projects throughout the northwest. Nickolas graduated from the University of Idaho’s Architecture program, earning Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architecture degrees.
His recent experience include the Clackamas Town Center Remodel and Expansion, the Google Campus Phase II Core and Shell project in Kirkland and Banks Middle School in Banks, Ore.

Elizabeth Stonecypher has joined BLRB as an Intern Architect, bringing specialized experience in the development of architectural graphics. She is a graduate of the University of Idaho, earning Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architecture degrees. Elizabeth recently worked in Beijing, China, as a designer and architect working primarily on the city’s subway entrances.

Kourtney Strong joins BLRB’s Portland office as a Project Manager, bringing more than a decade of experience in the design of public and private facilities. Kourtney is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where she earned dual degrees in Architecture and Building Sciences. Her recent experience includes a variety of commercial, industrial, retail and institutional 
project types throughout Oregon.

As one of three new team members in the firm’s Bend office, Aiden Humphrey joined BLRB with significant sustainable design experience and training. A graduate of University of Oregon’s Master in Architecture program, Aiden studied sustainable practices at an advanced level with professor G.Z. Brown, an internationally recognized energy expert. Aiden has designed numerous residential, commercial, educational and medical projects.

Also joining the firm’s Bend office is RJ Johnson, a project manager and architect with more than 20 years experience serving public and private clients throughout the region. A graduate of the University of Idaho’s Architecture program, RJ has specialized expertise in sustainable design practices developed while working on a variety of commercial, educational, residential and municipal projects.
Dustin Locke is another of the firm’s new Bend hires, with specialized expertise in environmental and community-based architecture. A recent graduate of the University of Oregon’s architecture program, Dustin has interned at two distinguished Northwest firms and served in the United States Navy as an Avionic Electronics Technician.

Tacoma Dome District Feasibility Study Receives AIA Award

As part of AIA Southwest Washington’s Honor Awards held November 7, BLRB received a Citation Award for the 415 East urban infill feasibility study the firm completed in collaboration with the Tacoma Housing Authority and Pierce Transit.
The mixed-used, mid-rise residential development would be located along 25th Street East, across from Freighthouse Square and along the Sounder and Link commuter lines in the Tacoma Dome district. 
The building’s programming envisions a mix of market-rate and affordable housing, retail and café spaces, shared interior areas, outdoor patio, green roof, lofted library, community meeting rooms and a fitness center.
To soften the urban atmosphere, private grass areas are provided for individual units, and the rooftop of the parking garage is utilized as a vegetated courtyard with a dog run.
The 415 East project is envisioned as the start of Tacoma’s first modern multi-mode transit-rich neighborhood - a positive catalyst for future sustainable growth and urban community in Tacoma.

BLRB Architects Hires Three Team Members

BLRB Architects recently hired three new team members to continue the high level of service the firm provides its clients throughout the region.

Scott Winters joined the firm’s Tacoma office, bringing specialized experience in the development of architectural graphics and renderings. Scott earned a Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mixed Media from Western Washington University.

Henry Rhett joined BLRB’s Bend office, bringing 15 years of technical design experience and specialized expertise with design tools such as AutoCad and Revit. Prior to joining BLRB, Henry ran his own design firm, completing dozens of residential and commercial projects. Henry earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon.
Melissa Guarin, AIA, LEED AP BD+C has joined BLRB’s Portland’s office, bringing more than a decade of architectural design experience and expertise with design development, project coordination, drawings and specifications on a variety of public and private projects. Melissa earned Master of Science in Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Baker Middle School Wins Learning By Design Award

BLRB has received a Publisher’s Commendation Award for outstanding educational facility design in the Fall 2013 Edition of Learning By Design, the biannual guide that showcases and recognizes innovative school and university design and construction projects.     

Recognized for its creative design of Baker Middle School, BLRB is only one of four firms to receive a Publisher’s Commendation Award in the Fall 2013 design competition.

BLRB’s design of Baker was applauded for its emphasis on community access, personalized educational environments, flexibility and environmental stewardship. The bright and airy design embraces both small learning communities and shared learning spaces.
The design of the 118,320-square-foot replacement incorporated green elements, such as on-site timber reclamation, rainwater harvesting and natural ventilation.

Learning By Design recognized BLRB’s design for “beautiful materials inside and out (that) help to create a warm and inviting feel for students, staff and the community.”

Learning By Design Fall 2013 Edition

Helen Keller Elementary Replacement Wins Top Award

BLRB Architects’ replacement of Helen Keller Elementary School for the Lake Washington School District in Kirkland was recently awarded the William W. Caudill Citation award as the top project in American School & University Magazine’s 2013 Architectural Portfolio.
The 56,000-square-foot elementary school was recognized for its “great integration of concept into the overall plan.” The jury also noted the school’s small learning communities and how they benefit learning.

The replacement of Helen Keller Elementary School opened to students in September of 2012. Keller’s design reflects a comprehensive, state-of-the-art elementary school that supports personalized instruction and community building among students and teachers.   Windows, skylights and lightwells ensure that interior spaces are filled with natural light, ensuring a pleasant, inspiring and sustainable learning atmosphere. 
The school is organized around four small learning settings, organized by grade level, that facilitate individualized attention and enhance student-teacher relationships.   Each learning setting has a unique character and is identified through the use of color, signage and raised tactile braille which identifies Keller’s four guiding principles: respect, growth, integrity and perseverance.

American School & University Magazine’s 2013 Architectural Portfolio will be available in November. William W. Caudill (1914-1983) was an American architect, teacher and author, best known for his educational facility design.

2013 AS&U Architectural Portfolio Issue

Principal Recognized for Excellence in Construction Specifications

At the annual awards banquet of the Mt. Rainier Chapter of Construction Specifications Institute held on June 6, BLRB Principal Dennis Kabba received the Donald E. Paine Specifications Award.

The award is presented yearly, recognizing excellence in the area of specifications writing and “outstanding stature as a practicing specifications writer.” Larry Barger and Fred Johnson, who are both previous recipients, presented the award.

Kabba has worked with BLRB Architects for over 25 years and oversees the firm’s construction administration services as well as quality control processes. He is a past president of the Mt. Rainier Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute.

Baker Middle School Replacement Wins Educational Design Award

Baker Middle School recently received a Merit Award from the Council of Educational Facilities Planners International during the annual state conference in Spokane.

The project was recognized for “capturing the resourcefulness necessary to create a welcoming and rich learning environment that also enhances the community.”

The resourcefulness refers to a land swap with Metro Parks to maximize the space available on the 13-acre site, which features a multi-use baseball/softball field, a synthetic turf soccer/football field and a park/play area. Harmon Park, which was previously adjacent to Baker, was traded to Tacoma Public Schools by Metro Parks for the land that now houses the STAR Center community facility on South 66th Street.
“It has been extremely rewarding to see the land of the demolished 1954 school become a recreational area and baseball gem in this part of our city,” said Ron Harpel, AIA, who served as project manager for the Baker replacement.

The committee was impressed with how the district and BLRB’s design team met the challenge of facilitating the necessary land exchange through public outreach, commitment and dedication, resulting in an outdoor component that enriches the neighborhood.

“When 21st century learning connects with community based resources for a higher vision, amazing spaces are developed,” said Lee Fenton, AIA, managing principal at BLRB Architects. “The synergy between Tacoma Public Schools and Metro Parks created a winning outcome at both Baker Middle School and the STAR Center.”
Baker was also recognized for being a well-proportioned 118,300-square-foot building with aesthetically pleasing materials and sustainable design features that complement interior and exterior spaces and instructional activities.

Higgins elected to Board of Directors of the CEFPI Oregon/SW WA Chapter

BLRB Architects’ Richard Higgins, AIA, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Oregon/Southwest Washington Chapter of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International. Richard was elected to an At Large position for 2013-2014.

Richard previously served as Chapter Governor, Chapter President and Regional President of the  Oregon/Southwest Washington Chapter of CEFPI. Richard joined BLRB earlier in the year, and serves as the Director of the firm’s Portland Office. 


Founded in 1953, BLRB Architects has grown under the direction of just three managing principals across six decades of architectural practice.  It is with pride that the firm announces the expansion of that list to four, with the elevation of Lee Raymond Fenton, AIA, to the position of managing principal for BLRB Architects.

With BLRB since 1984, Lee succeeds Thomas L. Bates, FAIA, who has managed the firm since 2002.  Throughout his career, Lee has established himself as an energetic and creative design force whose work has been consistently recognized for excellence by industry and peer associations.
He has served as a principal and integral member of the firm’s leadership team since 2002, helping to guide BLRB’s growth and development to the regional practice it is today.  Lee is an active member of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International and American Institute of Architects, Southwest Washington Chapter, as well as several community organizations.  As managing principal, Lee will maintain oversight and direct the activities of all four of BLRB’s offices located in Washington and Oregon.
Thomas L. Bates, FAIA, will now serve as Chairman of BLRB Architects’ six-member Board of Directors.  With BLRB since 1981, and having served variously as principal for design, and managing principal, Tom will continue to play a central role in business development and project leadership.  Tom was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2008 in recognition for his contributions to the practice of educational architecture, and preservation work with historic schools.

David Pool, AIA, an associate principal of the firm since 2009, has been elevated to principal.   He will continue to provide project leadership and oversee design services across all four BLRB locations.  Dave joined BLRB in 2004 and has nearly 20 years of architectural experience.   Dave’s recent projects include the replacement of Keller Elementary School in Kirkland and Chinook Middle School in Bellevue.