Kerr Admin Building, Oregon State University

The Kerr Admin Building is a modernist building in the middle of the Oregon State University (OSU) grounds. The building’s public space, parking and main location make it the perfect place to begin exploring the OSU grounds.


The Oregon State University grounds include several interesting buildings and sights, including:

  • Memorial Union
    • The Memorial Union is the historical heart of the OSU grounds. Its grand main hall is a perfect place to socialize. The coffee shop and cafeteria in the building provide plenty of food and drink too.
  • Reser Stadium
    • Reser Stadium is the home of OSU’s football team, the Beavers. The football statue outside the main gate is a common place to meet people. You can also see many of OSU’s NCAA teams training on the nearby fields.
  • Beaver Store
    • Be sure to get your Beaver memorabilia at the Beaver Store after visiting Reser Stadium. The Beaver store also has a variety of home goods and snacks available.


The Kerr Admin Building first opened as the Administrative Services Building in 1972. It has been the main administrative building on campus since with the President’s office on the 6th floor. Before this the President’s office and administration was in many locations, including an old army barracks.

The building was renamed to the Kerr Admin Building in 1996. The name is from Jasper Kerr who was the 6th president of OSU. He is best known for expanding the university grounds and many construction projects.


The Kerr Admin Building uses a modernist architecture style. This can be seen in its use of clean lines and symmetry. Modernism developed in the late 19th and early 20th century as a reaction to traditional culture.

Modernism was also interest in technology and modular construction. This is present in the Kerr Admin building as it was built using a lift slab technique. Each floor was poured on the ground and lifted into place. Two extra slabs were put on top for future expansion.

Musqueam Post at the University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is located on the unceded land of the Musqueam people. The totem pole in this image tells the story of how the Musqueam got their name. It was raised in 2016 as part of the UBC centennial celebrations at the University Boulevard entrance to the UBC grounds.


The Musqueam Post sits at one of the main gateways to the UBC grounds. This makes it the perfect landmark to start exploring the UBC grounds from. Some nearby sights include:

  • The Nest at the Student Union Building
    • The Nest houses the UBC student government, clubs and dinning. It is a good place to get some food or drink.
  • UBC Bookstore
    • This is the place to buy UBC swag such as sweatshirts or stickers. It also has a variety of local crafts and a wide selection of books.
  • UBC Alumni Center
    • Explore the history of UBC with the interactive displays at the Alumni Center. The Alumni Center also has a coffee shop and plenty of indoor seating.


The University of British Columbia sits on the unceded territory of the Musqueam People. The Musqueam are the native group that has lived on Point Grey since ancient times. The Musqueam continue to live on reservation lands on Point Grey and work closely with the University of British Columbia.

The Musqueam Post was installed in 2016 to celebrate the University of British Columbia’s 100 anniversary. The pole was carved by Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow Jr. The pole shows the two headed serpent that the land and the Musqueam take their name from.


Totem poles are an art form used by the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast. They use a variety of symbols to share legends, historical events and remember people.

Portland’s Brooklyn Rail Yard Cement Plant

This image is from Portland’s Brooklyn Rail Yard. The rail yard offers several interesting examples of industrial architecture and is a good place to watch trains from. It is also close to an artistic community and Reed College.


Several interesting sights and activities in south Portland’s industrial area include:

  • Union Pacific Brooklyn Intermodal Rail Yard
    • This large yard is a good place to watch trains. It has mostly freight, but Amtrak runs some trains through the yard too.
  • Artist and Craftsman Supply
    • Pick up the supplies you need to do some urban drawing. Also visit the other arts and craft supply stores on the same street.
  • Fred Meyers Regional Headquarters
    • Fred Meyers is a general store chain on the west coast of the United States of America. Their regional headquarters are across the street from this week’s drawing.
  • Reed College
    • The forested college campus is a contrast with the industrial rail yard next to it. This includes a gully and rhododendron garden.


The Brooklyn Rail Yard has been operating since the 1860s. Today it is run by the Union Pacific Railroad. It is an important place for goods leaving Oregon such as lumber and Christmas trees.

The yard takes its name from the neighborhood between it and the Willamette River. To the south and east is Reed College and its neighborhood. The yard ends in the north at Powell Boulevard.


The Lehigh Cement Plant in this week’s image is a nice example of industrial architecture. Cement plants are fun to draw because of all the detail in them. They have lots of conveyor belts to move around materials.

The rail yard is another good example of industrial architecture. The rail lines crossing and joining together in interesting patterns. The movement of the trains then gives an ever-shifting view to enjoy.

The Up House

The Up House became famous when its owner refused to sell the house to developers. The developers were forced to build around the small house. Then in 2009 Disney paid for balloons to be tied to the top of the house for the release of Up, which has a house in a similar position.

Activities Near the Up House

The Up House is in Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood. The area is known for its fishing boat harbor and Scandinavian culture:

  • Ballard Locks
    • The Ballard Locks connect the Puget Sound to the channel leading to Lake Washington. They are open to the public and allow you to watch boats being raised and lowered. The Ballard Locks also have a salmon ladder and a botanical garden.
  • Nordic Museum
    • The Nordic Museum shares the history of Nordic immigrants in the United States. It also brings in contemporary exhibits from Nordic countries to share their culture.
  • Golden Gardens Park
    • Golden Gardens Park offers one of the few sand beaches in Seattle. It also provides great views of the Olympic Mountains over Puget Sound.

History of the Up House

The Up House was the home of Edith Macefield until her death in 2008. In 2005 she was offered $1 million dollars for her home from a developer, but she refused. The 80-year-old said she did not need the money and she did not want to leave her home of 50+ years.

The developer built around Macefield’s house as a result. When Up came out in 2009 Disney paid to tie balloons to the top of the house to mimic the house in the film.

Many people have bought and sold the house since Macefield’s death in 2008. They have tried to remodel, demolish and move the house. The Up house has refused to change, much like its former owner. It is still between the modern apartment buildings in Ballard at 1438 N.W. 46th St., Seattle, WA.

Style of the Up House

The Up House is a modest Craftsman Bungalow. Many examples of craftsman homes today are ornate, but most were plain. Craftsman homes were popular as a cheap building style for laborers and the middle class.

The Up House was built in 1900. Ballard at the time was the center of fishing in Seattle. It was also home to many shipyards. This explains why the plain craftsman style was used.

This is in contrast to homes built around the same time on Queen Anne and Capitol Hill. These homes used more decorative styles like Queen Anne and Classical.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse looks over the mouth of the Yaquina River. It provides a fun weekend get away with history and a surrounding park. The town of Newport on Yaquina Bay also provides a number of fun activities and sights.

Activities in Newport, Oregon

A number of outdoor opportunities, natural sights and cultural activities are near to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse:

  • Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site
    • The lighthouse is part of this recreation site. Activities include hiking, fishing and picnicking.
  • Oregon Coast Aquarium
    • This aquarium shows the unique animals that are native to the Oregon coast. Some favorites include Otters and a Giant Octopus.
  • Rogue Brewery
    • Brewery and pub for Newport’s local Rogue Brewing. Brewery tours are usually available but have stopped for COVID.
  • Yaquina Bay South Jetty
    • Take it easy on the beach from this jetty at the Newport harbor mouth. The miles of beach are also a good place to walk.

History of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Yaquina Bay and river is named for the Yaquina peoples that lived in the area before European colonization. The first Europeans arrived in 1856. The size of Yaquina Bay made Newport the busiest harbor on the Oregon coast.

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse opened in 1871 and stopped operations in 1874. A larger light house was built 3 miles north. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was used for housing for government workers after 1874.

The state of Oregon bought the land around the lighthouse in 1934 to create a park. The lighthouse was scheduled to be demolished in the 1960s, but it was saved. Today it is preserved as a historical landmark.

Design of the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Lighthouses are a type of marine architecture. Marine architecture is used for structures on coastlines. Other types of marine architecture include houseboats, piers and jetties. Marine architecture is also a type of industrial architecture.

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in Oregon that makes the light part of the main house. Most lighthouse keep their light in a separate tower.

University of British Columbia Music Hall

The University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver campus is a great place to see modernist architecture. Most of the grounds were built after the second world war at the top of modernism’s popularity. The result are buildings like the music hall in today’s sketch.

Activities near the UBC Music Hall

The UBC Music Hall is on the way to several sights on the Vancouver grounds. Important sights close to the Music Hall are:

  • Nitobe Memorial Garden
    • Peaceful Japanese garden on the north western corner of campus.
  • Museum of Anthropology
    • The main home for artifacts from British Columbia. Also houses a range of artifacts from around the world.
  • Koerner’s Pub
    • The favorite social spot for masters students and those who can drink.
  • UBC Rose Garden
    • A beautiful garden with great views of Burrard Inlet and the Cascade Mountains.

History of UBC Grounds

UBC was established in 1908. The providence of British Columbia did not want to fund the campus. Student protests in the early 1920s forced the providence to fund construction. When classes started at the main Point Grey campus in 1925, they were held in temporary buildings.

The library and Iona Hall were finished in the 1920s. Funding again dried up for the campus in the 1930s due to the Great Depression though. The campus remained incomplete and was used for army housing in World War Two.

After World War 2 students began filling UBC’s classes. The providence also provided proper funding for the campus. This wave of construction in the 1950s and 1960s used Modernist styles.

Style of the UBC Music Hall

The UBC Music Hall uses a brutalist design. Brutalist buildings are primarily built with concrete. The name brutalism comes from the French word for raw concrete, beton brut.

This heavy use of concrete results in blocky buildings. The concrete forms also create geometric forms in the building. This geometry and the simplicity of concrete made it a favorite of modern architects.

Sketch Review: The 99% Invisible City by Roman Mars

Roman Mars is best known for his podcast 99% Invisible. In the 99% Invisible City*, Mars investigates how small things change cities. This ranges from manhole covers to tax codes. The result is a field guide to the many parts of cities.

This blog focuses on urban landscapes. As a result our focus is on the whole instead of the parts. The 99% Invisible City reminds us that this whole is made up of individuals and materials though.

Iconic Skylines

Vancouver BC Skyline

A skyline can be a city’s special feature. An arrangement of unique buildings to show a city’s character. Most skylines have a star building though.

Roman Mars choose to tell the story of the Transamerican Pyramid in San Francisco to show this. The building is an icon of the San Francisco skyline. Yet it almost did not happen.

At the time people felt the building was ugly. Yet the developers pushed on any ways. The result is a story of how a big risk led to a star building.


Mars has a chapter for the Boston City Hall. The building is famous, or infamous, for its brutalist style. This gives Mars a chance to talk about concrete.

Brutalism comes from the French word for concrete, brut. Concrete can be stark, but it also has a beauty. The individual parts of concrete never come together in the same way. The result is one-of-a-kind patterns and colors.

It was sad that Mars did not focus more on the story of Boston City Hall. Sticking to his theme he focused on the details of concrete though. The result is in interesting look into concrete as a material.

Portland Water Fountains

The 99% Invisible City has examples from across the world. It was nice to see several examples from cities in the Pacific Northwest though. Our favorite was in inclusion of the Benson Bubbler.

Downtown Portland and several other cities in Oregon have unique fountains. Jets of water come up from the center of four bowls. The jets fall back into the bowl and drain away. These are known as Benson Bubblers or Portland water fountains.

Mars includes the Benson Bubblers in the section on public water fountains. Designers were not sure of the best design for public fountains when they started appearing in Europe and the United States of America. Mars offers the Benson Bubbler as a first attempt at a sanitary fountain.

Wrapping up The 99% Invisible City

Mars pulls the reader into the everyday parts of a city. This celebrates the humble origins of the world’s cities. It also reminds the reader about the small ways we create the places we live.

It would be nice to have an overarching story to the chapters. Mars’ focus is compelling though. This book is a great guide for urban explorers. You can also find many of the stories in this book for free on Mar’s podcast 99% Invisible.

*This is an Amazon sponsored link.

Seattle Skyline from SW Dawson St. and 41st Ave. SW

West Seattle sits on a peninsula apart from Seattle. This gives it a special character. You can find this in The Junction neighborhood not far from this week’s drawing at SW Dawson Street and 41st Avenue SW.

Activities at the West Seattle Junction

The Junction is a large business area in West Seattle. It is focused on the intersection of California Avenue and Alaska Street. This sketch is on the backside of the Junction. The Junction has many interesting sights including:

  • All-Ways Crosswalk
    • One of a few all ways crosswalks in Seattle. At the intersection of California Avenue and Alaska Street people can cross diagonally on the cross signal.
  • Easy Street Records
    • Easy Street records sells records, CDs and other pop culture. They are famous for live performances by local and national artists.
  • Holy Rosary Cathedral
    • A large catholic cathedral built from brick. The spire of the Holy Rosary Cathedral is an important feature of the West Seattle Skyline.

History of the West Seattle Junction

West Seattle is the oldest neighborhood in Seattle. The Europeans who would found Seattle spent their first winter at Alki Point in West Seattle.

The neighborhood was isolated for the first 50 years of Seattle’s history. The Duwamish River and the marsh where the Duwamish River entered Elliot Bay cut off West Seattle from the rest of the city.

Then in 1907 two trolley lines made it easy to access West Seattle. The Junction neighborhood is where these two trolley lines crossed. Today plans for a light rail line would end in The Junction.

Design of Seattle’s Roads

Seattle is planned on a grid. Roads that run north south are called avenues. Roads that run east west are called streets. Seattle’s many hills and history have caused interesting changes to this plan though.

Seattle’s road names also have a cardinal direction. This matches one of 10 sections the city is divided into:

  • SW – West of the Duwamish river
  • S – South of Downtown and east of the Duwamish river
  • None – Downtown streets do not have a cardinal direction
  • E St. – East of downtown
  • E – Between the E St.s and the Montlake Cut
  • NE – From the Montlake Cut to the north edge of Seattle
  • N St. – Between Downtown and Lake Union
  • N – From Lake Union to Seattle’s north edge
  • W – Between Elliot Bay and the Fremont Cut
  • NW – From the Fremont Cut to north edge of Seattle

West Seattle Log House Museum

The West Seattle Log House Museum is in the Alki Beach area. The museum is the home of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. The society collects historical records for Southwest Seattle ranging from items gifted by the local Duwamish tribe to current residents.

We would like to acknowledge that Seattle is on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People past and present and honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe.

Activities near the West Seattle Log House Museum

The Log House Museum is a block from Alki Beach. This places it near the many sights on Alki Beach:

  • Alki Beach Park
    • Alki Beach is a sand and cobble beach that brings in many people in the summer time. It is a good place to relax and explore tide pools. It also has good views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains over Puget Sound.
  • Denny Party Landing Site
    • The first landing site for the Europeans who founded Seattle was on Alki Beach. It is marked by an obelisk in Alki Beach Park.
  • Seattle Statue of Liberty
    • A replica of the Statue of Liberty in Alki Beach Park is a good place to meet people. The statue was donated by the Boy Scouts in 1952. It is one of around 200 replicas of the Statue of Liberty installed by the Boy Scouts.

Seattle’s Founding

Human settlements have been found in Seattle going back 4000 years. The Duwamish people inhabited the Seattle area when the European Denny Party arrived in 1851. The Duwamish tribe still maintains a longhouse and cultural center near the Duwamish river.

The Denny Party lived at Alki Point for a year. They then moved to what is now Downtown Seattle in 1852. They named their settlement Seattle after the chieftain of the Duwamish people at the time.


Rustic architecture uses simple local materials and building methods. It was a popular style in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. It is famous for its use in the United States’ national parks.

The building the Log House Museum is in was built in 1902 as the carriage house for a mansion. It is designed in the rustic style. It used Douglas Fir logs from the local site. It also has a fireplace and chimney built from beach stone.

The Nest at the University of British Columbia

The Nest at UBC is the new student union building on the University of British Columbia (UBC) grounds. Its primary space is the atrium on its west side. This is the subject of this week’s sketch. Restaurants and offices ring the atrium.

Activities near The Nest

The Nest is in the middle of the UBC grounds. This makes it a good place to start a walk on the UBC grounds from. Notable sights at UBC include:

  • Museum of Anthropology
    • The Museum of Anthropology collection is focused on the First Nations peoples of British Columbia. It also contains artifacts from other parts of the world.
  • Beatty Biodiversity Museum
    • The Beatty Biodiversity Museum contains UBC’s biological samples. This ranges from fossils to animals in formaldehyde.
  • Nitobe Memorial Garden
    • The Notibe Memorial Gardner is a Japanese garden on the UBC grounds. It is a peaceful place to rest when walking on the UBC grounds.
  • UBC Botanical Garden
    • The UBC Botanical garden is a living plant collection. It has plants from many parts of the world that can live in the Pacific Northwest.

History of The Nest

The new Student Union Building on the University of British Columbia grounds opened in 2015. It was built to give more room for student events. The old student union building did not have enough room for the current students.

Style of The Nest

The Nest uses a neomodern design. This is seen in the plain concrete columns holding up the structure. They grow on the line-based forms of modernism in a way only possible with contemporary building methods.

Neomodernism is a continuation of modernism. It developed in the late 1990s in response to Post-Modernism. Neomodern designs are popular in current public and corporate buildings.

These designs use the simple lines and limited decoration of modernism. They also use new materials and technologies like computer drafting though. The result is what some people call the Apple Store look.