Dallas, Oregon


The military does not leap to mind as the most likely patron of distinguished design. But the Colonel James Nesmith Readiness Center, a new facility for the 162nd Engineer Company of the Oregon National Guard, in Dallas, Oregon, could change that thinking.

THA Architecture joined forces with contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis in a design-build competition to win this 40,000-square-foot project, which accommodates assembly, administration, training, recruiting, and family support in an artful assemblage of interconnected sheds and outdoor spaces. These buildings, where concrete-shear walls are combined with CMU and cold-formed-metal bearing walls, are clad in a cedar rainscreen and metal panels. Nestled in the lush agricultural landscape of the Willamette Valley, their forms recall the ad hoc vernacular of local barns, but are organized with military precision.

Although “readiness center” is the new term for armory, this facility also serves as a rural community center for such events as trade shows, dances, and polling booths. It needed to be both welcoming and secure—a paradox at the heart of project designer David Keltner's parti, which distinguishes community functions (such as fire department events, town celebrations, fund-raisers, and the like) from military training and official ceremonies, but allows them to share a large central space.

“Procession was integral,” says Keltner. “The arrival sequence—through grassland fields and filbert orchards—provides a transition from rural landscape to military formality.” To the one side of the processional path is a long wall of gabions that screens secured service yards. On the other is a swale, also gabion-edged, in which collected stormwater takes on symbolic significance. A wooden bridge over the swale marks the place at which, explains Keltner, “citizen soldiers move from civilian life to military life.”

The processional path establishes a central axis and leads to a monumental assembly hall flanked by military spaces on the southeast and administrative spaces on the northwest. Ahead are a terrace and panoramic pastoral views. This spatial arrangement is articulated not only in a rigorous plan but also in a hierarchical section: the central space is enclosed in a tall volume with a gabled roof; flanking spaces in lower volumes are sheltered by flat and shed roofs.

References to armories and agricultural buildings inform the design. The gabion walls recall the thick masonry of old armories and nod to the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The central gabled shed housing the assembly hall alludes to traditional granges. “The material palette reinforces the 'welcoming and secure' theme,” explains Keltner. “The basalt-filled gabions and metal roof and wall panels—both dark, hard materials—suggest a secure protective shell. Entry points welcome you with frames of rough-sawn cedar siding recessed under overhanging roofs.”

The wood palette extends into the lobby and assembly hall—where it provides an elegantly textured counterpoint to highly polished concrete floors—in the form of 11-foot-tall rift-sawn white-oak doors on pivot hinges and slatted screens of Douglas fir on walls and ceilings. These conceal HVAC equipment and acoustic panels while modulating illumination from skylights. Recalling the interior structure of wooden barns, the rhythm of the wood slats, says Keltner, “gives the spaces a human scale, warmth, and light.”

How did the Oregon Military Department (OMD) become a patron of architecture so ambitious it has already garnered six prestigious design awards? Much of the credit goes to its director of installations, Colonel Christian Rees, an Oregon native who, after graduating from Cornell on an ROTC scholarship, served six years of active duty and then returned home to earn a M.Arch. at the University of Oregon. Since going to work for OMD's Installations Division, he has campaigned to meet the goals established by the federal government in the General Services Administration's Design Excellence Program.

Rees declines to take credit for this astonishing project, saying, “I found many people in my organization hungry for better design.” Besides affording a place where the military can train or the high school can hold a party, the OMD director sees architecture as a recruiting tool. “The Guard,” he explains, “is a volunteer force. Well-designed facilities help recruit and keep talented persons by providing a setting noble enough to honor their service.”


Client: Oregon Military Department

Owner: Oregon Military Department

THA Architecture
733 SW Oak Street
Portland, OR 97205
P: 503.227.1254
F: 503.227.7818

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
THA Architecture’s project team:
Jonah Cohen, Principal-in-Charge (Registered Architect)
David Keltner, Project Designer(Registered Architect)
Stefee Knudsen, Project Manager (Registered Architect)
Derek DeVille, Project Architect (Registered Architect)
Alexander Lungershausen, Specifications (Registered Architect)
Tracey Bascue, Interior Designer (Registered Architect)
Heather Flegel, Team Member
Annie Mahoney, Team Member (Registered Architect)
Scott Mooney, Team Member
Jon Jorgenson, Team Member
Juan Tomas Nunez, Team Member (Registered Architect)

Interior designer: Tracey Bascue, THA Architecture

Catena Structural Engineers
1111 NE Flanders Street, Suite 206
Portland, OR 97232
503.467.4797 – fax

John McDonald, Principal
Jason Holland, Project Engineer

kpff Consulting Engineers
111 SW Fifth Avenue, Ste. 2500
Portland, OR  97204
503.227.7980 – fax

Matt Dolan, Principal
Matt Johnson, Project Manager
Ryan Milkowski, Project Engineer

Glumac Engineers
320 SW Washington Street, Ste. 200
Portland, OR 97204
503.274-7674 – fax

Kirk Davis, Electrical Principal
James Thomas, Mechanical Principal
Rob Schnare, Mechanical Project Engineer
William Parry, Electrical Project Engineer
Geoffrey Winslow, Plumbing Project Engineer

735 NW 18th Ave.
Portland, OR  97209

Charles Brucker, Principal
Nathan Hilmer, Project Designer

Glumac Engineers
320 SW Washington Street, Ste. 200
Portland, OR 97204
503.274-7674 – fax

Listen Acoustics Acoustical
404 NW 10th AVE. Suite 200
Portland, OR 97209

Tobin Cooley

Kitchen –
Halliday Associates, Inc.
656 NW Norwood Street
Camas WA 98607

Verne Halliday

General contractor:
Lease Crutcher Lewis – Design/Build Prime
600 SW 10th Avenue, Suite 310
Portland, OR  97205
P: 503.223.0500
F: 503.223.2874

Bart Ricketts, Principal-in-Charge       
Matt Pearson, Senior Project Manager 
Nate Buddress, Project Manager
Ted Gayman, Superintendent
Denny Riley, Senior Project Engineer
Brett Elston, Project Engineer
Jeff Spencer, Chief Estimator 
Vishnu Jhaveri, LEED Coordinator

Photographer(s): Lara Swimmer


40,000 square feet


$17.3 million (total)

Completion date:

October 2013



Structural system
Cast in Place concrete slab on grad and shear walls. A combination of CMU and cold formed metal bearing walls support steel trusses with metal decking.

Exterior cladding
Metal Panels:
Box Rib Metal Wall Panels
Prestige Series Metal Wall Panels
Span-Lok Metal Wall Panels
Manufacture: AESPAN

Metal/glass curtain wall:
Aluminum Curtain Wall 5600 series
Manufacture: EFCO
Aluminum Storefront 433 Series
Manufacture: EFCO

Rainscreen: 6” wide Cedar board siding

Wood: See Rainscreen.

Moisture barrier:
Self-Adhering Sheet Waterproofing
Carlisle Coating & Waterproofing

Other cladding unique to this project:
Trinity Wall Gabions filled with basalt rock quarried 10 miles from site.
Manufacture: Hilfiker Retaining Walls

UltraPly TPO mechanically attached roofing system.
Manufacture: Firestone

Span-Lok Metal Wall Panels
Manufacture: AESPAN

Metal frame:
Continuous Weld Hollow Metal Door Frames
Manufacture: Stile Custom Metal, Inc.

IG vision glass units with PPG Solarban 70XL low-E coating
Manufacture: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope

Guardian 275 Translucent Day lighting Panels
Manufacture: Major Industries

Insulated-panel or plastic glazing:
See Skylights above.

D618 Heavy Duty Wide Stile Door
Manufacture: EFCO

Metal doors:
Manufacture: Stiles Custom Metal, Inc.

Wood doors:
Solid core wood doors with Fir Veneer
Lynden Door

Sliding doors:
Nana Wall SL73series Aluminum Doors

Special doors:
Acousti-Seal Operable Partition, Series 900
Manufacture: Modernfold

Upswinging doors, other:
Overhead metal coiling door manufactured by Overhead Door Company
Roof Hatches manufactured by Bilco

Locksets: MEDECO High Security Locks Inc.

Closers: LCN Commercial Division

Exit devices: Von Duprin

Pulls: H.B. Ives

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Armstrong

Suspension grid: Armstrong

Demountable partitions:
Acousti-Seal Operable Partition, Series 900
Manufacture: Modernfold

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Euro American Design

Paints and stains:
Interior Paint from Benjamin Moore and Miller Paint
Interior Paint from Wolf Gordon
Exterior Semi-Transparent Stain from Rodda

Wall coverings:
Fabric wrapped acoustical wall panels.  Fabrics manufactured by Maharam and KI.

Fir Venner Paneling fabricated and installed by Euro American Design

Plastic laminate: Nevamar

Solid surfacing: Caesarstone

Special surfacing:
Epoxy flooring in Kitchen manufactured by Stonhard

Floor and wall tile:
Colorbox EC manufactured by Crossville (public restrooms floor tile)
City View manufactured by DalTile (shower room walls tile)
Subway manufactured by Pental Granite and Marble (public restroom wall tile)

Resilient flooring:
Sports flooring from ECO surfaces

Carpet Tile from Interface
Walk off Matt from Tandus

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Wood Slat wall and ceiling panels manufacture by 9 Wood
Acoustical insulation wall panels installed behind wood slats manufactured by Tectum Inc.

Office furniture:

Reception furniture:
See Other Furniture category below.

Haworth and
Zody chair by Haworth, Caper Chair by Herman Miller and Maestro chair by KI.

Tables: Haworth

Other furniture:
Oregon Corrections Enterprise manufactured custom conference tables, lounge furniture, side tables and benches.  The tables and benches were made using wood reclaimed from the old building that this project replaced.

Interior ambient lighting:

Downlights: Copperlighting

Exterior: McGraw-Edison

Dimming System or other lighting controls:
Lighting controls by Wattstopper

High Efficiency Water Closet Flushometer model 11-1.28 manufactured by Sloan. 
High Efficiency Urinal Flushometer model 8186 manufactured by Sloan.

Energy management or building automation system:
Automated Logic

Photovoltaic system: Nexus Energy Solutions