Business & Practice

Schemata Staff Expands to Seven

Things are picking up here, and we are pleased to announce the addition of two new staff members, bringing our total to seven (a pretty special number to many -- including us!). [caption id="attachment_965" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Katherine (L) and Domonique (R)"][/caption]

Katherine is one of the two newest members of the Schemata Workshop team. She has gained professional experience in Seattle at Craft Architects, Coates Design, and Sclater Partners Architects. She grew up camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota, then skiing in Montana while she earned a Master of Architecture degree. Now she enjoys all the camping, hiking, fishing, and clam digging that Washington State has to offer.

Katherine has a passion for enriching lives through architecture and seeks inspiration from the user for all design decisions.  She takes pride in her ability to work diligently to meet deadlines and strives to exceed expectations. She is currently studying for the architect registration exam. When she is not studying or in the office you will find Katherine running around Capitol Hill with her boxer puppy.

Domonique is the new Office Manager at Schemata Workshop, and  brings ten years of administration expertise. Her experience includes working in the architectural, non-profit, insurance, and construction fields.  She grew up in the Northwest, and received her Economics degree from the University of Washington.  In addition to supporting the Schemata Workshop team Domonique started a small business, Edible Dirt, where she provides urban citizens the coaching, inspiration, and community support to start growing their own produce.

Rain or shine Domonique can probably be found outside training for some kind of endurance race. She finished her first half Ironman last summer and is working towards her goal of an Ironman in 2012. In the meantime she is headed to Zürich in April for her second marathon.  After a long day Domonique can be found curled on the couch with her favorite buddy, a Portuguese Water Dog puppy named Goose.

Eltana Bagels -- Because it's a Long Way to Montreal

There is something quintessentially urban about the bagel, at least that's my own romantic musing. Perhaps its Eastern European, Jewish origins make it somewhat exotic, or maybe it brings up memories of the East Coast and its larger metropolises. Better yet, it is probably because it is only in a city that one can hope to find a decent one! Sold in super markets and bakeries alike, most bagels (in both cities and suburbs) are based on the misconception that if you use bread dough, form it into a circle, and put a hole in it -- you have a bagel. City dwellers have generally experienced better, except for those of us living on Capitol Hill, where, much to my chagrin, we had not a decent bagel joint. That has changed, thanks to Eltana ( I will not purport to be  culinary critic, but do encourage you to pay them a visit, and give them a try. I suspect you will be pleased. The bagels are hand made on the premises, and baked in a wood fired oven, making them the so-called Montreal Bagel and the favorite of Eltana proprietor Stephen Brown.

[caption id="attachment_950" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Wood Fired Oven"][/caption]

The shop is located in the newly opened Packard Building, in a space designed by friends and colleagues Graham Baba Architects (, whose office is just down the street. Built with a lean budget indeed, the space none-the-less has a couple of noteworthy touches that revealed the ingenuity of their designers: a blackened steel wood storage bin as well as a clever way of displaying the aesthetically pleasing bagels.

[caption id="attachment_961" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Blackened Steel Wood Storage Bins"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_951" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Just Look at Those Beauties. Cool Rack, Too."][/caption]

Back of house there is the wood fired oven, while up front are some bar seats with views to 12th Avenue and a large,  centrally located , rustic family-style dining table.

[caption id="attachment_953" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Dining Area"][/caption]

Stumptown Coffee Roasters -- Authentic to the Last Drop

[caption id="attachment_825" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Baristas at Work"][/caption] There is a uniformity of intention and attention to detail at Stumptown Coffee Roaster’s 12th Avenue location that is authentic, be it in the manner in which its café and roasting spaces are presented, or in the manner in which their roasted beans are packaged. The 12th Avenue Cafe & Roasting House is both a place of leisure and of work, with both being housed in an environment that encourages an understanding of the company itself as well as the products they produce.

[caption id="attachment_826" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Downstairs' Coffee Bar"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_827" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Classic Burlap Coffee Bag"][/caption]

The 12th Avenue entry leads directly to the cafe space, but it was not the most interesting space, which is found beneath the Cafe, on the lower level, which customers are encouraged to explore. The lower level is where the soul of the operation is, it is where the roasters, training room, inventory, packaging and loading dock are located. The lower level is essentially a basement, and is architecturally un-adorned. That is not to say that is without visual splendor. Two pre-World War II coffee bean roasters are the heart of the space, and are constantly attended.  The patina of age -- worn wooden control handles, faded paint, and vintage graphics -- lends them a charm that only time can bestow.

[caption id="attachment_828" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Roasting Floor"][/caption]

Surrounding the roasters, are of course bags of coffee. Big, burlap bags of coffee, with the burlap (as I was later to imagine) at least partially informing the aesthetic to the entire operation.  Adjacent to the roasters (and fronted by a bar for customers to sit and take in the action), is a large conference and training room, where the various espresso machines that Stumptown uses to train their baristas in the Stumptown-way are housed. And these machines are beautifully exhibited, akin to museum pieces, being arrayed along a wonderfully textured concrete wall.

[caption id="attachment_829" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Many Lives of the Humble Bean"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_822" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Two Pre-War Roasters"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_833" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Barista's Tools as a Work of Art"][/caption]

Upstairs, in the café, the setting is more refined with furnishings that reflect a taste in mid-century modern. The layout and furnishings were designed by Stumptown’s founder Duane Sorenson in collaboration with Bo Concept, an international furniture retailer ( The building is a restored space, whose heritage I was unable to learn, but is a welcome addition to the growing number or restored heritage buildings found on Capitol Hill. The restoration was made possible by the building’s owner, Scott Shapiro( The building’s main over all architectural interest lies in its unadorned seismic bracing, with steel structure and fortified concrete walls, complementing the texture of the exposed hollow clay block walls, a material commonly found in Europe but long out of favor in the US. In addition to the rawness of the space were the bags of roasted beans in front to the main counter. Their plainness reflected that of the unadorned burlap bags of unroasted beans in the basement, the rawness of the architecture, which in turn reflected the authenticity of the Stumptown operation itself – no glossy packaging, no words heralding Stumptown’s environmental and labor practices; a straightforward package, adorned only by a simple card indicating the type of roast and the words “Direct Trade” (Stumptown deals directly with the growers it buys beans from, in order to assure the product they want, hence, Direct Trade).

[caption id="attachment_832" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Such Restraint -- Nice!"][/caption]

I am reminded of Reyner Banham’s 1986 classic A Concrete Atlantis: U.S. Industrial Building and European Modern Architecture 1900 - 1925. In his masterful tale, Banham examines the grains silos, warehouses, and factories built in the United States in the early 20th Century and the qualities of those buildings that European Modernist architects, such as Gropius, Le Corbusier, and Mendelhson were infatuated with. These buildings, and their functional and structural expression as well as in their simple, unadorned materiality were held as models for the future of architecture, and photographs of Ford automobile plants and General Foods mills were widely published in Europe. Of course, many subsequent architects have had the same infatuation to the extent that an industrial aesthetic emerged, one seeking to leverage the same sort of authenticity sought after by the early Modernists. However, the application of the industrial aesthetic is just that, an aesthetic, an approach based on appearance, and devoid of its original context. In the Pacific Northwest, the so-called “Northwest School of Modernism”, a quasi-industrial and romanticized frontier aesthetic, is applied to all manner of buildings from educational to residential. What oftentimes is lacking in such a design approach is appropriateness, and therefore the authenticity sought by their designers; or, those same qualities sought by those architects written about by Mr. Banham.

I couldn’t help but think that my Stumptown experience taps into my architect-infatuation with the industrial; however, unlike most spaces so inspired, Stumptown’s atmosphere is not an aesthetic, but an over-all approach grounded in their pursuit of the truest tasting coffee they can roast.  Those words on their coffee bags -- Direct Trade – seemed emblematic of my Stumptown experience that day: grower to buyer, no middleman, and little room for interpretation, authentic to the last drop.

[caption id="attachment_830" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="White Seat Covers on Walnut Frame -- Classic Mid-Century"][/caption]

Forty Eight Hours in Astoria, Oregon

[caption id="attachment_802" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Lewis and Clark Exhibit in One of the Many Historic Sites in the Area"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_795" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Astoria Bridge over the Columbia River"][/caption]

Dear friend Bill has returned to the Pacific Northwest after ten years of living in the dusty Rockies, and his new home is the charming town of Astoria, on Oregon’s upper northwest coast. I took the first opportunity I had to visit, and came away impressed. While not bustling, I would say that Astoria has a respectable and healthy downtown, comprised mainly of local merchants offering a variety of wares, including a nice assortment of indy coffee houses and brew pubs.

[caption id="attachment_797" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Downtown Astoria, Oregon "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_796" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Downtown Astoria, Oregon"][/caption]

Similar in size to Capitol Hill (kind of), many of the buildings would feel at home on the Pike Pine corridor. What impressed me most about the downtown was the stewardship of the buildings. The buildings appeared to be very well maintained, which must be a full time endeavor for a city built on the stormy Pacific Northwest coast. Architectural stewardship is a good metric of for gauging the relative health of a city, as is the above-mentioned variety of the locally based retail. No doubt Astoria’s economy benefits from being on one of the most beautiful coast lines in the United States, as well as being the first permanent English speaking settlement on the West coast of the country, yet the city still maintains an authenticity of place that would not be possible if it thrived solely on the tourist trade and history buffs.

[caption id="attachment_798" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Waterfront Building Astoria, OR"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_810" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Astoria Coffee House, a Great Place for Breakfast"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_811" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Astoria Coffee House"][/caption]

In addition to a fine urban center, the Astoria area is blessed with a cultural heritage and sense of purpose that surprise. Built at the tempestuous confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, Astoria provides the ideal training environment for the Coast Guard’s elite Advanced Helicopter/Swimmer Rescue School. Additional evidence of the area’s maritime heritage is on display in the more sanguine environment in the Columbia Maritime Museum.

[caption id="attachment_804" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Historic Ship Outside of the Maritime Museum"][/caption]

Should one want to wander outside the confines on the museum’s walls, in-situ history is easily accessible in one of the many Lewis and Clark state and national historic sites on both the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River, the terminus of their legendary Corps of Discovery. Artifacts of more recent history can also be found in the area’s state and national parks, such as the gun batteries that are remnants of the coastal defenses erected during the Spanish American and World Wars. Should your historical interests not yet be satiated, try the Lewis and Clark Visitors Center, magnificently perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific.

[caption id="attachment_800" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Fortifications, Fort Columbia State Park, Washington"][/caption]

Of course all of the above pales in caparison to the sublime natural setting. It is, after all, the natural environment that draws many of us here, and whose embrace keeps us from wanting to live anywhere else. I would like to think that it is the scenic bounty of Cascadia that is the driver of our progressive environmental and urban practices, and the fire that fuels our passion to live this magnificent area.

[caption id="attachment_807" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="View South from Ecola State Park, Oregon"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_806" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Ecola State Park, Oregon"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_805" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Pacific Coast Near Astoria, Oregon"][/caption]

At Nube, the Maps Say so Much

There is a commitment amongst the staff at Nube ( several core principles: sell only products that are (really) made in the United States, sell products that use recycled materials in a creative manner, and support small (and hopefully local) artisans. Their commitment is fulfilled by the wide array of products sold at the store. From clothing to office furnishings and whimsical art, artistry and creativity on are display at every turn. The many ways that materials -- which otherwise would be at the end of their useful life -- can be re-purposed surprises and delights. Whether the product’s recycled lineage can be traced to its origins, as is the case with the Ag Bags, or is bereft its former use, as in the case with the clothing, is one of the most interesting character of the store. Most often, merchants selling recycled products wear their environmental pretence on their sleeve; at Nube, it is the quality of craft and creativity of design that is first and foremost on display. Not that the lineage is not first and foremost to Ruth True, Nube’s owner, as witnessed by the pair maps above a counter showing the inventories’ origins. [caption id="attachment_760" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Store"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_765" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Chandelier made from Recycled Cardboard"][/caption]

The space itself is thoughtfully crafted from materials apparently long forgotten; the clever use of doors found in the Odd Fellow’s basement to sub-divide the space reflects the practical use that many of the for sale items exhibit. You can see all this and more at Nube, in the Odd Fellow's Building at Pine and 10th Avenue, just down from Elliott Bayy Book Company and next to Molly Moon's.

[caption id="attachment_764" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Maps Showing the Inventory's Origins"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_759" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Doors on Tracks Subdividing the Space"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_761" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Furniture made from Street Signs"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_763" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Ag Bags made from Bicycle Tubes"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_762" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Scary Critters, Made from !?"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_768" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Housewares made in the U.S. from Recycled Materials"][/caption]