BLRB Celebrates 65th Anniversary

May 2018 marks 65 years in business for BLRB Architects. In May 1953, Donald F. Burr established Donald F. Burr, AIA and Associates in Lakewood, Washington, and led the firm as managing principal until 1981. In an era when architects were often prescriptive in their design methods, Burr developed the collaborative, interactive project planning and design process that is still a recognized hallmark of our firm’s service today.

In the 1960s, Burr became intrigued by changes taking place in educational theory, as educators acknowledged that the physical environment has a significant impact on student achievement and teacher performance. Shifting the firm’s design emphasis from sophisticated residential and commercial projects to a focus on educational architecture, Burr became a regionally and nationally recognized leader in the field of educational architecture.

In 1982, Jerry Lawrence and Paul Rising purchased the firm, creating Burr Lawrence Rising Architects. In 1989, the firm was renamed Burr Lawrence Rising + Bates Architects following the elevation of Thomas Bates as a principal of the firm. Soon after, the firm was renamed BLRB Architects and has grown to include offices in Tacoma and Spokane, Washington; and Portland and Bend, Oregon. To this day, BLRB Architects continues Don Burr’s legacy of collaborative, sustainable and flexible design for a variety of building types.

Auburn's Olympic Middle School Breaks Ground

Bob Lindstrom and Ron Harpel from BLRB recently joined staff, students, and officials from Auburn School District and the City of Auburn to break ground on the replacement of Olympic Middle School. The new 105,000 square-foot school will be built on the site of the existing Olympic Middle School with an estimated construction value of $53.7 million.  The new building is scheduled for a June 2019 completion. 

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.