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REEVALUATING POSTMODERNISM'S EXPERIMENT

Twenty years ago Michael Graves's Portland (Oregon) Public Services Building marked postmodern architecture's coming of age. It may have been the movement's first major public building to garner mainstream recognition. Portland mayor Frank Ivancie declared it "our Eiffel Tower." Since then, despite its iconic status, the building has been panned both by critics of postmodernism and by ordinary Portlanders. Gloomy, cramped office spaces and structural failures have contributed to this reputation. Next week Portland writer Brian Libby will describe Graves's return to the City of Roses and his unexpected reception.

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DESIGN FIRMS AND THEIR INTRANETS

While the Internet has grabbed the technology spotlight in recent years, its little sister, the corporate intranet, hasn't received the same level of attention. But some design firms are discovering that the "killer application" for Web technology may lie inside the organization. Intranet applications replace the islands of information trapped in file cabinets and incompatible databases. Next week Christopher Klein will give a tour of one firm's intranet and show how the Becker Morgan Group has benefited from its adoption.

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NEW VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE

If vernacular is defined as the unconscious work of craftsmen based on knowledge accumulated over generations, then it is the very opposite of architecture, which involves a premeditated design process with a conscious appeal to the intellect. On the other hand, if it simply refers to a greater emphasis on architectural history and research than on new technology and forms, then "new vernacular architecture" is not at all a contradiction in terms. Next week we'll take a look at one example of the genre: a new orphanage built in the highlands of Nepal, using modern design sensibilities and ancient building techniques.

 
 
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