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Posts from the ‘Arciform in the News’ Category

Pioneer Mother’s Cabin Rescued from Willamette

Mothers' Cabin 036

We are delighted to report that the Oregon State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution have commissioned Arciform to begin rescuing one of Restore Oregon’s 2013 Most Endangered Places, the Pioneer Mother’s Cabin in Champoeg, Oregon.

Threatened by the encroaching Willamette River, the historic Pioneer Mother’s Cabin will be minutely catalogued, tagged, deconstructed and prepped for storage by Arciform starting this week as part of a multi-year project that will ultimately see the cabin restored and re-built on the grounds of the Robert Newell House and Museum.

Mothers' Cabin 017

Although the structure is in overall good condition, the south bank of the Willamette River has eroded to within 20 feet of the cabin walls. Moving the cabin to higher ground is imperative to prevent the structure from sustaining water and flood damage this winter. Deconstruction will begin November 11th and will be coordinated by Arciform Project Manager Scott Mumma in collaboration with Arciform owner and historic preservation advocate Richard De Wolf.

De Wolf explains,
“We’re honored and excited to help rescue this important historic structure. Our team has extensive experience with historic restoration projects including the Heceta Head Lighthouse, the Waggoner Farmstead and the Silver Falls Historic Log Cabin. We look forward to putting that experience to work in support of this important effort.”

The Pioneer Mothers Memorial Cabin was built in 1931 to honor female pioneers and house artifacts that crossed the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. Built with funds raised by the Oregon State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), it today operates as a museum and living history exhibit for school children.

Mothers' Cabin 010

Primary goals of the multi-phase preservation project include upgrading the engineering to meet current code without modifying the look and feel of the historic structure and upgrading the comfort and energy performance characteristics of the structure. Deconstruction will require careful cataloguing of each element to be sure that it can be reconstructed in a way that will conserve and restore as much of the existing architectural material as possible. The reconstruction phase will include comfort and performance upgrades like the integration of insulation into the roof and a seismic upgrade that will require drilling threaded rods through the structure to invisibly lock the logs to the foundation.

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Progress on the Smokehouse Restoration

Arciform owner Richard De Wolf spent the last few days volunteering to help restore one of Oregon’s Most
Endangered Places, a historic smokehouse.
Here’s a report from the field about their progress:

We’ve had a great few days at the smokehouse. Here is a brief report of what we’ve found and done.
When we got there, the building was leaning seriously forward and to one side. My heart sank as I thought it might have been way too far gone. I didn’t even want to take a picture. The owner had the church group come out and “clean out” the smokehouse, which sounds exciting, but they also removed some of our structural support and staircase. The staircase was the only thing giving the building shear strength. Well, we didn’t let that get us down. We had it back up and straight by lunch, but that ate into our labor hours by 1.5 man days. Now that we had the structure straight again, we started doing pin point measuring and got all four corners level and plumb.

It really started looking great, at least to those who had seen it within the last twenty or so years. We are making headway! Then, we cut the rotted studs ends and put a new plate under the long wall on the right side of the building. (All of my directions are if you have your back to the main house and you are looking at the sliding doors) We then added a temporary shear panel to the interior of that wall to give the building rigidity that it never had. The opposite long wall was destined to be re-framed, so we removed that wall completely after shoring up the rafters and adding three replacement floor joists. When we got deeper into the removal, we found evidence that the side door was added later, so we made the bold decision to frame the new wall without the doorway. The door was set to the side for safe keeping.

Another bold move was that when we found that about two-thirds of the front wall had been replaced with new framing, or that the few old studs that were left had been rotted up about four feet, we decided to cut the lower portion of the studs out behind the new ceiling joist. This way, plans can be made for future use as to how the doors would want to be installed. Either for convenience, or historical accuracy, the groundwork has been laid to make and implement a quick and easy application. A new sill plate has been installed to aid in this.

All of the framing being used is vintage barn wood of the same species and compatibility with the rest of the structure, When necessary to mill the wood to new dimensions, we placed the cut side towards the siding side so the fresh cut wood is not visible or distracting from the appearance. While digging, we noticed lots of remnants of the original brick infill foundation and used that material and other brick from the property to dry set supports for the new pressure treated sill. The original structure appeared to be above grade which allowed air to flow in from the ground level, probably to aid in circulation for the action of the smokehouse.

A new top plate timber was created with matching notches to receive the wall studs. Three or four new rafters will be installed tomorrow, and the skip sheathing will be installed with new old barn wood where appropriate. New fasteners, where appropriate were hidden.

The intent is to leave the smokehouse free standing and framed completely. The temporary support beam and bracing will be removed Thursday. Siding, original wood, the doors and window will be left in the structure after back-filling and raking the dirt floor. The plywood shear panels will be left as a measure to continue and protect the building. These can be removed in the future as they were installed with screws. (the original studs had many nail and screw holes, so this did not deter from the originality of the structure.) Arciform will re-asses the finances and if there is money left over, will provide and install standard galvanized agricultural metal roof panels to protect the building. Traditionally, the building would have had wood shingles.  This will be done during the summer season when our work schedule opens up again between jobs.

We can’t wait to see the finished restoration of this historic smokehouse. We’ll keep you posted.

Introducing Our New Senior Designer, Chelly Wentworth

Chelly Head 2

We are delighted to announce the addition of Senior Designer Chelly Wentworth to the Arciform Design Team.
Chelly holds degrees in both Clinical Psychology and Interior Design and is a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer through the National Kitchen and Bath Designers Association. She also holds certifications in Aging in Place and has served on the Portland board of the National Kitchen and Bath Designers Association as a VP of Professional Development for three years.

We asked Chelly to answer a few questions in order to help you get to know her better. Take a look:
When did you know you wanted to be an architectural designer? Tell us how you got inspired to do this work.

 I first fell in love with art and architecture while studying fine arts in college, several years later, I decided I had to pursue design while standing on the steps in the vestibule of the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy. (It was designed my Michelangelo) It was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I also love to cook and entertain . Specializing in residential design allows me to make a career out of all the things I am passionate about.

Describe one of your favorite design projects. What were the challenges? What were some of the features that made it memorable?

It was a kitchen/addition project in a Laurelhurst Colonial Revival home. The clients were newly married and were planning a large family. They love to entertain and are passionate about cooking – in fact, the husband was studying to become a pastry chef. He wanted to be able teach his craft to disadvantaged youths and asked for a fairly large kitchen space. The challenge was to integrate a kitchen that would meet all of the homeowners’ wants and needs and still fit the integrity of the house and neighborhood. The collaboration resulted in a very functional and beautiful space, but most importantly a very personal one for the clients.

Tell us what you consider the hallmarks of a well-designed project. How do you know when something is “right?”

Beyond following the basic elements and principles of good design, a project must satisfy the goals of who and what it is being designed for, both aesthetically and functionally. It’s my job to use my training and experience to act as a guide to help clients create their vision. I know something is “right” when people say they love what we have created for them.

What’s your working style? How do you like to work with a client?

I like to ask a lot of questions and make few assumptions. If I really listen to them I have a better shot at ‘nailing it’ with the design.

What are the top 3 things on your “bucket list?”

This is always a difficult question for me since I am pretty satisfied with my life.

When pressed I usually answer:
1. Travel to all the places I’ve never been but have wanted to go. (Too many to mention.)
2. Take up painting.
3. Teach art history.

We are so happy to have Chelly join the Arciform Design Team and we look forward to following a few of her next projects on our blog.

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A Volunteer Weekend for Arciform

174 Kim Larsen after paint disaster

Last weekend several Arciform and Versatile Wood Products staffers contributed their Saturday to a national volunteer event called ReBuilding Together. The project provides essential safety repairs to low income homeowners, many of whom are facing health or disability challenges. Our crew worked alongside 100s of other volunteers who tackled 47 projects throughout the Portland metro area. Here’s a note from our Team Captain, Kate Thornton, about the day and what the team was able to accomplish.

Dear RT House #174 Volunteers,

If you googled “Rebuilding Together” in the news Saturday, you learned stories of over 250,000 volunteers with more than 200 RT affiliates across the country that collectively tweaked the aura of the world.  Well, who really knows about that last part, but I hope you felt a good sense of accomplishment and a burning desire to come play again this time next year.   In the meantime, follow National RT on Twitter @rebldgtogthr.

174 RT 2013 House 174 Group picture

About half of our crew was first-time RTers.  Thank you for stepping out and we hope to see you again for many future Aprils.  One of the best things about RT is that they/we are able to organize and deliver $4 of value to our community for every $1 in donations.  Volunteers see the direct impact of their efforts and get to bond in the process.

Together, the volunteers at House #147 accomplished the following (in a single day!):

  • Spread two yards of gravel in driveway
  • Mow grass
  • Patch broken siding
  • Repair gutters/downspouts
  • Replace laundry room lighting
  • Rewire several outlets
  • Replace bathroom floor down to joists
  • Edge sidewalk
  • Spread word of RT to neighbors
  • Pull weeds
  • Prune bushes
  • Paint house exterior
  • Repair storm door & latch
  • Replace dryer vent & ducting
  • Insulate laundry room
  • Plug drain leak
  • Clean patio furniture
  • Re-support front roof overhang
  • Hang new clothes line
  • Patch sheetrock holes
  • Replace four broken windows
  • Install kitchen fire extinguisher
  • Replace kitchen sink strainer & drain
  • Repair & adjust kitchen cabinet doors
  • Repair wall panels next to range and stairs
  • Add electrical covers
  • Replace two toilets with ADA “water sense” models
  • Install Smoke & Carbon Monoxide alarms

Not too shabby for a day’s work!

A few other notes from the Team Captain:

Kim takes home the award for “Biggest Disaster” for leaving her paint container on top of the ladder and dumping it on her head while moving the ladder.  She is about 50 years too early to be sporting blue hair, but you can get away with it here in Portland.

174 New basement toilet

Shaun and Wallace win the uncontested “Git ‘er Done Hero” award for embracing the day’s yuckiest task of removing the plugged basement toilet that was unspeakably vile and frothy.

174 Bathroom floor 1 174 Bathroom Floor 2 Jeramy 174 Bathroom Floor 3 Jeramy and George 174 Bathroom Floor 4

Arciform’s Jeramy Bashaw wins the “Nice Guy” award for trading his lunch break for a Home Depot run so that he and fellow Arciform men could finish rebuilding the upstairs bathroom floor that had rotted through to the basement.

Tim wins “Quote of the day” with: “That bush was dead.  It just didn’t know it yet.”

“The Miracle Award” goes to Diane and her landscaping crew for uncovering a lovely yard under a jungle of dandelions and unruly overgrowth.

174 House front after 2

“Honorable Mention” goes to Teresa and Steve who spent most of their beautiful Saturday slaving with ductwork and insulation in the dark basement laundry room.

174 New insulation and ducting

While the sun was still high in the sky, the house along with its very grateful owner had a new lease on life. A trailer full of supplies, 32 donuts, a gallon of coffee and 36 sandwiches had been devoured and the dumpster was full.  At the final sweep, only one lonely banana and a single bottle of water remained.  It was a good day.

174 Full Dumpster

Arciform was joined in supporting this incredibly valuable project by the following organizations:

Port of Portland

Tim’s Urban Bees

Wallace Rainey, General Contractor

Kaizen Home Improvement (Kate)

Providence Occupational Therapy

RED’S Electric

PS from Kate: If you would like to get involved with this excellent organization, please go to this website and say “yes!”  There is a big need for people to help screen all the applicants between October and March.  Of all the applicants this year, there were 185 who made it to the home inspections/interview phase, which were then pared down to ~47 successfully completed projects.

We were honored to have the opportunity to participate in the work of this excellent organization and we encourage you to find out more about their good work here.

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Friend of Arciform Shares her Experience of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Melissa Fryback, a good friend of Arciform ( and owner of Option 4, a design and marketing agency that provided marketing and design services for Arciform in the past) recently fulfilled a lifelong dream by participating in the Boston Marathon.


She is safe and sound, having completed the race well before the bombs were detonated, but the Oregonian did catch up to her to capture her experience of the race, the bombing and its aftermath.

Here are some quotes from that story. We are relieved that Melissa is okay and wish a safe and speedy recovery to all of the race participants impacted by the bombings.

From the Oregonian story:

Melissa Fryback, a 42-year-old runner from Beaverton, finished the Boston Marathon with one her best marathon times ever, clocking in at the finish line in 3 hours, 43 minutes and 46 seconds…

They were about 4-5 blocks from the finish line when they heard the first explosion.

“I said ‘What the heck!?’ It almost sounded like construction, but it was very loud. Then we heard a second explosion,” she said.

You can read the rest of her experience here.


Arciform Building Struck by Drunk Driver

Somebody has evidently decided to take the name of our blog a bit too literally and drove their car RIGHT THROUGH our N. Interstate Avenue building early this morning!

You may remember Arciform’s original building on N. Interstate:


Completed in 2003 to coincide with the opening of the Interstate Max Line, the building is an iconic part of the fabric of revitalized N. Portland.

Although our offices and shop have now moved to N. Randolph, this building is still an important part of Arciform’s history, having garnered numerous awards for sustainable construction and helping to put Arciform on the map (literally and figuratively). The current tenants include an Irish dance studio whose main floor studio was the scene of the accident.

Last night at about 2 a.m. a drunk driver drove through the main floor of the building.

front window

side of building

News cameras and work crews raced to the scene to cover the story.

Here’s an early a.m. clip from KGW with some quick words from Arciform owner Richard De Wolf.

The driver is in the hospital but fortunately no innocent people were hurt. The driver has been taken into custody and will be brought up on criminal charges.


Arciform crew are already at work to seal up the holes in the building and help get our ground floor back in business as soon as we can.

rubbish pile

Ironically, the accident has already created more rubbish than was generated by the entire original construction of the building!

We’ll be working as fast as we can to restore the building to its original condition:


Wish us luck!

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