Endless budgets and fast-approaching deadlines define many of the commercial projects that make up an architect’s portfolio, where developers are concerned with bottom lines in a building made for multiple tenants, many of whom aren’t yet known. In the nonprofit sphere, a limited amount of capital to create a single-purpose project invites a new kind of challenge.
This is the kind of endeavor that excites the artists of Scott | Edwards Architecture, where a number of women have made their mark on the Portland area’s nonprofit health care landscape.
“It’s about serving people,” principal architect Lisa McClellan said. “Everybody deserves good design.”
Scott | Edwards, founded in 1997, is Portland’s 12th-largest architecture firm, known for a diverse portfolio that includes private homes, commercial office spaces and public libraries, among many other categories. Health care has been an increasingly prominent avenue of business, with women like McClellan taking charge of some impressive projects.
This includes projects such as the Garlington Health Center and the corresponding Garlington Place Apartments, both owned by Cascadia Behavioral Health and opened last year, to provide a convenient link between health care and housing.
“On one campus there’s affordable housing, 52 units, and a 24,000-squarefoot health clinic on the same property,” McClellan said. “A lot of people who need affordable housing are struggling, potentially, with mental health issues, addiction issues, and so it’s even more critical that they get the support.”
Scott | Edwards associate Sarah Cantine said that given the sensitive nature of mental health, it makes a lot of sense to integrate one’s residence with the place they visit for treatment.
“They more than anyone else need the support of good architecture,” Cantine said. “It just makes it so much easier for people to have access to health care if it’s right there.” Part of the thrill of designing for nonprofits, McClellan said, is that the architecture is so uniquely tailored to the client, in contrast to many commercial projects, where owners and developers don’t actually know beforehand who will inhabit the space.
Unique and specific purposes require unique and specific solutions, and that’s exactly what McClellan and Cantine came up with for an addition to the historic Louise Home Hospital and Residence Hall in Gresham.
Part of the National Register of Historic Places, the Louise Home was originally built in 1925 as a residence for unwed and pregnant mothers, and is now the headquarters of local mental health institution Albertina Kerr Centers for Children. With the historic frontage of the old building and its fir-tree surrounding, the design team was limited in what it could do.
To navigate these restrictions, Scott | Edwards built the 16,535-square-foot addition between two wings of the old building’s east side, so that it is nearly invisible from the iconic front view. Its façade draws on the old building and the trees, almost blending in with vertical wood siding panels. Hayley Purdy moved to Portland four years ago and immediately began working for Scott | Edwards, often on a design team with McClellan. She said the ability to work on such meaningful projects has been important to her personal success.
“I was really eager to have an imprint in architecture on a client that didn’t affect just one, but many,” Purdy said. “Coming to Scott | Edwards, I was pretty specific about doing that kind of work, and I was lucky enough to be heard.”
Being heard goes hand in hand with being represented, and McClellan said the industry is progressing in terms of female employment. She said that in the past, many women would study architecture, only to become discouraged or later be convinced to move into interior design.
While most of the principals at Scott | Edwards are men, most of the associates are women, and McClellan said she thinks the firm’s future leadership will be female. She said having women represent the firm in meetings or interviews goes a long way with both clients and potential employees.
Purdy agreed. “The reason I took the job with Scott | Edwards is because I interviewed with Lisa,” Purdy said. “Of all the firms I interviewed with, she was the only woman I interviewed with.”
Title: Portland Women Architects Tackle Critical Non-profit Projects
Posted By: DJC Oregon Women of Vision Magazine
Author: Alex Visser
Date: Summer 2019