BLRB Portland Relocates to New Office

BLRB Architects is happy to announce that we have moved into a new office in the American Bank Building on SW Morrison Street in Portland.

We have steadily expanded our Portland team over the last several years and will be adding even more team members in the coming months. With the prospect of this upcoming staff expansion, we found that we have outgrown our current office space.

With upcoming commissions including a new elementary school, a comprehensive high school renovation and multiple capital planning projects on the horizon, we are gratified and enthusiastic about what the future holds for us.

BLRB Architects’ new Portland office is located at:

621 SW Morrison Street, Suite 950, Portland, OR 97205

Phone: 503.595.0270

Jonah Jensen Elevated to Associate Principal; Relocates to Portland

BLRB Architects is proud to announce that Jonah Jensen, AIA, LEED AP, has been elevated to Associate Principal of the firm and has relocated to the firm’s Portland office.

With BLRB since 2006, Jensen has served as designer, architect and project manager on a variety of K-12 projects, including the rehabilitation and expansion of Tacoma’s Washington Elementary School, and the modernization and expansion of the historic Loyal Heights Elementary School in Seattle. Jensen’s interest and experience with historic architecture led him to a position on Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and authorship of a book highlighting the renovation of Tacoma’s Stadium High School, prior to joining BLRB.

Jensen joins the firm’s 10-person Portland office, and will be serving on projects in process, including the modernization of Gresham High School, multiple projects for the Kalama School District, and capital planning for the Astoria School District.

Jensen has been actively involved in community and professional organizations including Tacoma’s Downtown On the Go, Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Jensen graduated from Washington State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies.

Wilburton Elementary Breaks Ground

On Wednesday, July 19, the Bellevue School District hosted a groundbreaking event for the new Wilburton Elementary School. When it opens in September 2018, Wilburton will offer nearly 84,000 square feet of educational space across a compact, two-story floor plan. The program features 29 general and special instruction spaces and four (4) early childcare rooms. This new school, designed to accommodate 600 students in grades PK-5, will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment with naturally-lit, cheerful spaces and a contemporary expression, in keeping with BSD’s most-recently constructed schools. This project was funded by the district’s February 2014 bond. BLRB’s previous projects for BSD include the replacements of Chinook Middle School (2014) and Newport Heights Elementary (2008); and the modernization of Interlake High School (2005). 

Astoria SD Selects BLRB for Planning & Assessment

BLRB was selected by the Astoria School District for facility assessment and long-range capital planning in support of the district’s 2018 capital bond initiative. Upon bond passage in 2018, the district anticipates nearly $30 million in capital facility improvement projects.  BLRB previously served the Astoria School District from 1999-2003 on $21.5 million of capital facility projects across all of their schools. The assessment portion of this project will get underway this summer.

BLRB Selected for Kalama SD Planning Services

BLRB was recently selected by the Kalama School District to provide facility and bond planning services. Our work will encompass the validation of KSD’s recent OSPI Study & Survey, planning and pre-design for a modernization of the historic junior/senior high school, and a replacement elementary school that will be developed on an as-yet to be identified new site. The projected estimate for the capital bond is approximately $60 million.

On a movie trivia note, Kalama High School appeared in the Twilight movie series as Forks High School. BLRB previously served the Quillayute Valley School District on the modernization and addition to the actual Forks High School!

Auburn SD Selects BLRB for New Elementary Schools

The Auburn School District (whom BLRB is currently serving for the replacement of Olympic Middle School) has selected BLRB for three upcoming elementary school projects. The award will encompass planning, design and delivery of New Elementary School #15, which will start March 2018; the replacement of Lea Hill Elementary, starting Spring 2019 and New Elementary School No. 16 which will kick off Spring 2020.

BLRB Selected for Centralia High School Modernization

BLRB has been selected as the architect for the modernization of Centralia High School. The project is part of the $74 million bond approved by voters in March 2017.

Originally designed by BLRB founder Don Burr in the late 1960s, the firm sees the project as a wonderful opportunity to build upon the firm’s legacy and bring Centralia High School’s learning environment into the 21st century.

Referring to BLRB’s mission to design schools that are central to the lives of the communities they serve, Centralia School District Superintendent Mark Davalos stated, “That’s an important philosophy that pairs well with our vision for schools that will become neighborhood centers of learning and activity.”

BLRB Adds New Staff

As BLRB Architects continues to gain new clients throughout the Pacific Northwest, the firm has added several staff members throughout its regional offices.

New professionals include David Spangler, Tammy Vetsch, Sanaz Labafzadeh, Ray Avis, Omar Velasco in Tacoma; Chris Weiland in Spokane; and Evan Vansandt in Portland.

BLRB to Present at A4LE Chapter Conference

BLRB team members Tom Bates, Jonah Jensen and Greg McCracken will be giving a presentation at the Washington Chapter Conference of Association for Learning Environments to be held in Tacoma on May 9, 2017. 

Entitled "Reciprocal Planning: Challenging Traditional Paradigms of Educational Facility Planning", the presentation will discuss BLRB's unique approach to educational facility planning. Presenters will highlight the key elements of a reciprocal planning approach that distinguish it from more commonly practiced capital planning methods; the benefits of this approach to capital project development; and first-hand insights from students and educators who have been part of this process.

Joining BLRB's team members in the presentation are Leary Labanlic, student Foster High School; Pat Larson, principal of Foster High School; and Alan Welding, educator at Chartiers Valley High School in Pittsburgh.

Construction Begins on Harrison Elementary in Cottage Grove

Construction has begun on the new Harrison Elementary School for the South Lane School District in Cottage Grove, Oregon.

The 80,000-square-foot school will be constructed on the grounds of the old Cottage Grove High School, which was replaced in 2003. The new school will accommodate up to 650 students and features a two-story design, with classrooms organized into in six learning communities.

 The guiding principles for the school’s design include being a place to inspire learning, providing a safe and secure environment, community use and access, adaptability and flexibility, durability and sustainability, honoring community and history, and supporting wellness. Construction is anticipated to be finished by the end of June 2018 and open for students September 2018.

BLRB's Barnes Butte Elementary Receives National Award

Barnes Butte Elementary School in Prineville, Oregon has been selected to appear as an Outstanding Design in American School & University Magazine’s 2016 Architectural Portfolio.

This year, the panel of Architectural Portfolio judges selected various school projects from all over the country to be featured in the November 2016 issue of American School & University. Barnes Butte is the only school selected from Oregon.

The new elementary school opened in September 2015. The school was designed for flexibility and includes multiple breakout areas for small group instruction and team teaching, as well as community-use spaces.

Barnes Butte’s modern design reflects a comprehensive, state-of-the-art learning environment that supports personalized instruction and community building among students and teachers. The school is organized around seven highly-flexible learning communities, grouped by grade level, each conveying a unique character, identified through use of color, signage and murals depicting local geographical locations.

BLRB's IronHorse Lodge Recognized for Energy-Efficient Design

In designing IronHorse Lodge for Pacific Crest in Prineville, Oregon, BLRB partnered with Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero to set new standards for sustainable design.

The 26-unit housing complex for low-income seniors uses 82 percent less energy than a typical multifamily building, 77 percent less energy than an Oregon Code Minimum building, and 40 percent less energy than what’s required for Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero threshold.

Path to Net Zero lays the groundwork to pursue net-zero energy use–essentially when a building produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. For BLRB and Pacific Crest, it is the ultimate target in energy-efficient design.


The building’s highly efficient features include solar panels that produce energy for water heating and electricity, a variable refrigerant flow HVAC system that delivers tremendous savings and comfort, and a tightly sealed shell with thick walls and top-quality insulation. Solar tubes bring in natural light in the hallways, and there’s even a system for capturing and repurposing rainwater.

Pacific Crest Affordable Housing, the award-winning Bend-based developer specializes in sustainable housing for low-income seniors who appreciate the lower rents and extra savings on their utility bills.

Video Profile of IronHorse Lodge