The New Oregon Interview Series brought Mayor Sam Adams, Portland Monthly editor Randy Gragg and prominent architect Brad Cloepfil together to discuss their work in shaping urban space and how our built environment is evolving on February 22nd at Urban Grind East. Since becoming Vera Katz’ chief of staff, Mayor Adams has served as council liaison to the Regional Arts & Culture Council and as lead council member on Arts and Culture, Economic Development and Transportation, instrumental in transit-oriented development such as the aerial tram and bike boxes, urban design of developments such as SW Waterfront, and arts outreach such as Art Spark, RACC’s Installation Art Series in the Portland Building and a new initiative for building Portland metro area’s creative capacity, ACT for ART. Architect/principal of Allied Works Architecture, Cloepfil’s projects have included the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the redesign of NYC’s Museum of Arts & Design at historic 2 Columbus Circle, and the Portland offices of Wieden + Kennedy. A Harvard Loeb Fellow and Columbia National Arts Journalism Fellow, Randy Gragg was the Oregonian’s architecture critic for eighteen years and is currently Portland Monthly’s editor-in chief, as well as organizing the Halprin fountain plazas music/dance performance, “City Dance”, Bullseye Glass’ architect-in-residence programs, and the 2003 art exhibition, “Core Sample”, involving over 30 shows and installations throughout downtown Portland.
Host Nora Robertson conceived the New Oregon Interview Series to find out how Portland’s blossoming creative culture has developed and where it’s headed. “A lot has changed in the past decade,” Robertson says. “The best perspective comes from the artists themselves—and the designers, writers, chefs, and venues who make things happen here.” The Oregonian's Barry Johnson remarked "at this point, we don't know whether we're headed back where we left off 18 months ago or whether we're going somewhere completely new. That question is at the center of the New Oregon Interview Series."
LISTEN FOR YOURSELF
Mayor Sam Adams of Portland, Oregon was elected Mayor of Portland in May 2008 with 58% of the vote. Prior to being elected Mayor, Adams served as a Commissioner on the City Council for four years earning a reputation as a "policy-driven" advocate for sustainability, public transit, transportation planning, the arts, and gay rights. Adams gravitated to politics as a University of Oregon intern for Congressman Peter DeFazio where he stayed on staff until 1987. Adams turned his focus to Portland in 1991, where he successfully managed Vera Katz’s first campaign for mayor. At age 29, he began the first of 11 years as the youngest mayoral chief of staff in the city’s history. As a City Commissioner, he was Commissioner in Charge of Portland’s Office of Transportation and the Bureau of Environmental Services, and council liaison to, among others, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Association of Portland Neighborhood Business Districts, and Worksystems, Incorporated. Today, Mayor Adams continues to tackle those political first ascents serving as Portland’s first openly gay City Commissioner and now, Mayor. In his new role as Mayor, Adams is the lead Council member on Economic Development, Planning and Sustainability, Education, Arts and Culture, and Transportation. As the Commissioner-in-charge of the newly reorganized Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Mayor Adams brings renewed focus to developing and implementing plans that will not only keep Portland livable, vibrant, and economically healthy, but will also increase Portland’s status as a national leader in sustainable planning and development. He is proud of Portland earning the title of America’s most sustainable city, and wants to see Portland earn the title of world’s most sustainable city in the future.
Brad Cloepfil studied architecture at the University of Oregon and went on to earn an advanced degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture. After more than a decade of work and teaching in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and Switzerland, Cloepfil founded Allied Works Architecture in his native Portland, Oregon, which now includes an office in New York City. Cloepfil’s earliest influences lay outside the field of architecture. While studying at the University of Oregon, Cloepfil drew inspiration from the vast landscape and monumental works of civil engineering in the Pacific Northwest and looked to the simple yet profoundly resonant gestures of land and installation artists of that time. Cloepfil’s body of work is a s informed by the land and the history of place as it is by formal training, and it is one that cuts a clear line through much of the rhetoric surrounding the practice today. His approach to design combines a research-intensive focus on the specific character of each project with an understanding of the profoundly affecting possibilities of building. In addition to leading all aspects of creative work at Allied Works, Cloepfil has held guest professorships at the University of California, Berkeley, Rice University, Syracuse University and the University of Oregon. Terence Riley, a leading architecture critic and former chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, identified Cloepfil as an architect who is “setting the pace for the future” in the compendium of contemporary architecture, 10 x10, published by Phaidon Press. Riley believes Cloepfil’s work “has a certain assuredness and grace that comes from an intimate knowledge of materials and constructive possibilities” and that “his natural tendency is to fulfill the potential of any theoretical project, to realize it in such a way as to test and perfect the building art.”
Randy Gragg is a writer, editor, and organizer who has worked in the Northwest for the past 28 years. He is currently editor-in-chief of Portland Monthly, a city magazine covering news and trends in Portland, Oregon. From 1989 to 2007, Gragg wrote on art, cultural politics, architecture, urban design and planning for The Oregonian, Portland’s daily newspaper. Most recently, he edited and cowrote Where the Revolution Began: Lawrence and Anna Halprin and the Reinvention of Public Space” (Spacemaker Press). Gragg has organized a wide range of special events and exhibitions: “City Dance,” a 1998 music/dance performance involving 100 performers in Portland’s famed fountain plazas designed by Lawrence Halprin; “Core Sample,” a 2003 “exhibition of exhibitions” throughout downtown Portland and involving more than 30 shows and installations; and “Multiplied Light” and “Betweenness,” two architect-in-residence programs for the world-renowned artisan glass manufacturer, Bullseye Glass Co. For 2005/6, he was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. In 1994/5, he was a National Arts Journalism Fellow at Columbia University. He has written for wide range of national journals, among them, Metropolis, Architectural Record, Landscape Architecture, Harper's, the New York Times Magazine. From 1981 to 1989, he was a practicing studio artist in Seattle. He holds an MFA in photography from the University of Washington and Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Nevada in his hometown, Reno.