In 2010, Michelle LaFoe, AIA and Isaac Campbell, AIA founded OFFICE 52 Architecture, a Portland-based studio practice dedicated to realizing transformative projects with a research-based approach and artistic expression. Our work explores spatial ideas in conjunction with the innovative application of building materials and fabrication technology to create powerful and poetic spatial experiences that embody our clients’ aspirations. We work in multiple media, including digital models and physical exploration, with the versatility to address different scales and scope from large-scale projects and master plans to small cottages. Our approach is collaborative and develops a strong vision from the outset while simultaneously considering constructability, simplicity of detail, and the pragmatic realities of location, budget and schedule to create unique designs with an economy of means. We achieve this with a rigorous process of exploration, research and rethinking of conventional typologies to realize new spatial and programmatic concepts that are reinforced through their thoughtful use of materials. Profound attention to climate change, use of natural light, and the connection between people, place and the surrounding landscape is central to our work.
In 2011, OFFICE 52 won an invited national competition to design Scott Hall, the new $81.5 million, 109,000 sq. ft. Nano-Bio-Energy Technologies Building for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Construction of our innovative design for this complex project was complete in 2017. The firm’s work has been featured in books such as University Trends, Contemporary Campus Design, published in 2016 by Routledge, the Competitions Annual 2015, and most recently in Form and Dichroic Light, published in 2017 by Leetes Island Books.
The firm, and its principals, have received design awards from the American Institute of Architects, The Society for College and University Planning, The Architect’s Newspaper and Gray Magazine. In addition, our work has appeared in a diverse range of print and online publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Architect’s Newspaper, Gray Magazine, 1859 Magazine, The Arup Journal, Competitions, Oregon Architect, The Oregonian, Glass Quarterly’s – Urban Glass, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Schott Glass’ Innovation Experts, Cascade Magazine, Civil Engineering Magazine, Carnegie Mellon Today, and The Daily Journal of Commerce.
We have been invited to speak nationally and internationally about our studio and our creative design process. These engagements include The College Art Association (CAA), the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and a select list of institutions including Rice University, Carnegie Mellon University and The Heinz Architectural Center, Stanford University, Portland State University, and The University of Hartford.
OFFICE 52 Architecture is a certified Emerging Small Business (ESB).
Top photo by Christian Colombres.