The Studio Practice
Based in Portland, Oregon, OFFICE 52 Architecture is a creative and progressively minded design firm that has risen to the cutting edge of its profession with significant built commissions. Most notable are Scott Hall the new Interdisciplinary Nano-Bio-Energy Technologies Building for the College of Engineering and The Wilton E. Scott Institute of Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University, a commission won in a national design competition, and Tykeson Hall for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon. The firm’s work has received international attention and has been featured in The Architect’s Newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, Surface Magazine, Rice Magazine, Gray Magazine, University Trends: Contemporary Campus Design, and Form and Dichroic Light, a new monograph. Awards include a 2019 International Design Award from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies, SARA NY 2019 Design Award, The Architect’s Newspaper 2018 Best of Design Award, and SCHOTT AG “Innovation Experts” of Germany. Isaac Campbell, AIA, and Michelle LaFoe, AIA are the founding principals of the firm.
The firm has a wide-ranging approach to architecture, and projects forge connections between design, materiality, technology, and the natural environment by looking at the overlap of building and artistic expression with the spatial experience being the heart of what they design. They explore new materials and fabrication techniques in every building, developing innovative uses of glass, terra cotta, brick, wood, metals, steel, concrete and curtain-wall technology to suit each program.
In-depth research supports a rigorous process of design exploration that challenges preconceived notions and pioneers new spatial, programmatic and construction models. As such, their buildings and projects are thoughtfully made with attention to efficiency, natural light and the spirit of a place. Profound attention to climate change, how we use our resources, and the connection between people, place and the surrounding landscape is built into each project at every scale as they aim to effectively address the complex challenges of our built environment and contemporary culture to realize transformational projects with high performance building design.
From concept through construction they work closely with clients to develop an overall vision and conceptual ideas while simultaneously thinking about fabrication and articulation of detail. Their approach is about the program, what the client needs, and the physical opportunities and constraints of the site to develop thoughtfully integrated contemporary forms with proportions relative to the surrounding context. This provides opportunity to create inventive and cost-effective building solutions with an inspirational architectural presence, as well as construct innovative spatial models that allow people to work, explore and collaborate in new ways. Throughout the project they work closely with the client and construction partners to ensure the design works in tandem with the project budget and schedule.
A majority of their work and experience has been for organizations that value an architecture of aspiration and meaning with sustainable solutions: academic/university/schools, cultural/museums, civic, and non-profits, yet their firm continues to address a variety of scales and project types from the complex master plan to the sculptural prefabricated architectural installation.
Isaac Campbell, AIA: Prior to establishing the firm, Isaac Campbell led cultural and institutional projects as a design team leader in the studio of AIA Gold Medal winner Cesar Pelli, FAIA. These projects include the Chubu Teiju Museum and Cultural Center in Kurayoshi, Japan, the New York Times Headquarters Competition in New York City, and the Art/Architectural Enhancement Program for the Washington D.C. National Airport where he worked closely with internationally acclaimed artists such as Al Held, Nancy Graves and Jennifer Bartlett. Isaac has designed a number of complex large scale projects that include the award-winning, four-building Stanford University Science and Engineering Quad and the nine-building Knight Management Center for Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, a LEED Platinum certified project. He received his Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Arts from Rice University after study at the School of Liberal Arts at Alfred University in New York. He has lectured has been a guest critic for architecture design programs across the country and abroad.
Michelle LaFoe, AIA: Prior to founding the firm, Michelle LaFoe practiced in the studio of AIA Gold Medal winner Cesar Pelli, FAIA, where she was a designer on evocative projects such as the National Museum of Art and its above-grade sculptural stainless steel entry pavilion in Osaka, Japan. Prior to that, she was with the Charles Moore-founded firm Centerbrook Architects and Planners. Michelle is a New York state licensed architect and an accomplished artist and received a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts from Rice University, a Post-Baccalaureate Graduate degree in drawing, painting and foundry-sculpture work from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Distinguished University Research Fellow while in a Ph.D. program in the History and Theory of Architecture, and completed independent scholarship-funded research in design and materials/fabrication technology at Yale University. She is a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar to Italy and a grant recipient from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. She has exhibited nationally, taught in Rome and Perugia, Italy, and has chaired conferences at the American Academy in Rome and the College Art Association. Parallel to their practice, she maintains a drawing and painting studio.
OFFICE 52 Architecture is a certified Emerging Small Business (ESB).
Portrait by Christian Colombres.