The Kiva Gets a Facelift

A local Eugene institution is getting its first major face-lift. Open for more than 40 years, The Kiva grocery store has served Eugene residents at the corner of 11th and Olive with the idea that everything they sell is healthy and organic. Locally owned and operated since its inception, The Kiva has resided at it’s current location since 1983 and if you’ve been in there, you know the space is certainly quaint.

But what they lack in size they make up for in charm. If you’ve ever wanted to know the name of which cow produced your milk or the farm that your tomatoes were grown, The Kiva will tell you. Everyday is casual Friday for their employees and despite only four aisles, the store stocks plenty of meat, produce and wine. The size of the store does factor into the changes being made, but according to owner Melissa Brown, most of the work will be done around the confines of the shopping area.

“We’re so limited in this tight little space so we’re not doing anything inside. It’s mostly about trying to rework the existing space and replace some aging equipment that’s less efficient,” said Brown.

The major changes to the store will be done on the exterior and will consist of three phases. Phase one will be adding a large window on the south side of the building facing 11th street. That side will also be the location of a new deli area with a walk-up window as well as a covered seating area with tables and chairs for customers.

“The Kiva right now has only a front door and a couple of windows next to it and that’s really all that you can see of it so we definitely wanted to open it up and create more of a connection between the outside and inside so there’s a bit more of a celebration of what’s happening inside that’s expressed on the outside,” said Nir Pearlson, architect for the project.

The part of the design that will occur inside is phase two. The store will be getting new walk-in coolers, equipment changes in the kitchen and new bathrooms. It was important to Melissa that they not make drastic changes that would somehow alter the existing shopping experience.

“We wanted to maintain the same atmosphere. We wanted to make quality improvements on things like windows and doors, but we’re not looking to rebrand or anything. We just want to do what we do a little better.”

Pearlson also faced challenges in balancing changes that were to be made while also maintaining the existing feel of the store.

“Whatever we touch we have to make sure it’s better than when we started. Overall it will actually improve the integrity of the building. It’s a box and how do we shuffle things within the box? With whatever you move there’s going to be certain dimensions and then there’s the aisles that need to be kept a certain way so we couldn’t radically alter the organization of the store. Within the puzzle I think we did as best we could.”

Brown is optimistic that the first two phases will be done in early August. The final s section of the project will be to the exterior of the building out front.

“There’s a design for the sign out front. Right now we’re focusing on the south side wall and seating area. There is a design for the front entry and the awning. Whether we’ll get to it or not and when we’ll get to it I’m not sure. But there’s definitely consideration for changing that as well,” said Pearlson.

But the priority is to finish the first two phases. Work has already begun on the large window and deli area and despite the construction, the store has remained open. Melissa is hopeful the changes will not interfere with the day-to-day operations of the store.

“We’re probably going to have two days where we’ll have to close but we’re trying to close as little as possible for financial reasons,” said Brown.

Melissa is targeting August eighth and ninth as the days for the large reset (phase one and two) to be finished assuming everything continues as planned. Throughout the entire process of remodeling, Melissa has heard positive feedback from customers and she hopes the changes lead to a better shopping experience.

“It’s been a long process so we’re eager now that we’re actually in it to get it done. We’re excited to have improvements like more natural light in the store. Everyone, customers and employees should be able to function better in the space once it’s completed.”

But for now The Kiva operates as if nothing is changing. After 40 years in business, the place deserves a few upgrades.

Proposed Law Could Permit Reusing Graywater

Every time you do a load of laundry or take a shower, the extra water goes down the drain and is flushed into the city or county’s water system.

And a new Oregon law could encourage people to re-use that water in their gardens.

There’s faucet water that you drink, black water that you flush, and graywater leftover from a bath or a load of laundry.

And it’s that gray water that the Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality wants to encourage the reuse of.

“That’s still perfectly usable in irrigating and recharging back into the Earth,” said Nir Pearlson, Graywater Advisor for DEQ.

The average household uses more than 180 gallons of water a day taking a shower or washing their hands. But 60 percent of that could be reused as graywater rather than going down the drain.

“Kind of catching the water, before it mixes with black water and basically putting a diversion valve. Some kind of a system that would divert the water,” Pearlson said.

The DEQ is in the process of creating a permitting system to legalize gardening with graywater.

“(It’s) water which is really perfectly fine for irrigation, and use it for that purpose,” Pearlson said. This August, the Environmental Quality Commission should approve the DEQ’s recommendations, so plumbers and hardware stores should be prepared with the necessary tools to revamp your piping.

“A filter, pump, some kind of storage if you want to take that system, and a distribution system,” Pearlson said.

If the DEQ’s goal is to promote recycling your water, why are they adding permit fees and implementing rules and regulations?

Pearlson says the state must regulate the practice for your protection.

“Keep it sanitary so there’s no overflow off each property so my gray water doesn’t affect you if you’re a neighbor of mine, so it doesn’t end up discharging on to your property if you don’t want that,” Pearlson said.

That means your grass could soon be looking more green, thanks to gray.

The DEQ is hosting public hearings all throughout Oregon during February and March with one meeting held in Eugene on March 2.

2009 People’s Choice Award (Residential)

1st Place – Residential
Featuring: West Fourth Residence

In this competition which takes place annually during the Eugene Celebration weekend, local architects and landscape architects present their featured projects in various categories, and the citizens of Eugene cast their vote for the best project in each category.


Reinhart-Gray Residence
West 4th Avenue, Eugene

Catherine Reinhart & Scott Gray

Nir Pearlson Architect, Inc.

John Norrena

Gray Brothers Construction

Replace the former residence with a new 2-story residence and a garden guest-cottage. Link interior spaces and provide ample indoor-outdoor access and views.

The double-height living room serves as a spatial hub, linking all interior and exterior spaces: entry, dining and kitchen; the loft above; and the front and back gardens. A trellised deck parallels the glazed master wing hall, linking the interiors to the south-facing courtyard and the intensively cultivated food and flower garden. The stairway and loft, both constructed with Douglas-fir planks reclaimed from an old lumber warehouse, lead to two home offices, an airy dance and yoga room, and to the covered ‘Romeo & Juliet’ balconies perched over the gardens. Despite the property size limit, the open-plan design results in spacious, airy and daylit interiors, with multiple links to the outdoors.

Compact Footprint: The small urban lot is efficiently in-filled with the main house, a family guest cottage, and a small intensive, food producing garden.
Reclaimed Wood: The mezzanine deck and stairs were constructed of massive reclaimed Douglas fir warehouse shelves. High-school gym bleachers were milled into window and door trim.
Daylighting: Maximized via multiple windows and skylights.
Envelope & Energy: Low-infiltration ‘Spider’ insulation is sprayed into all wall cavities, and a centrally-located gas fireplace coupled with ceiling fans, provide efficient heat boosting to back up the central heating.

2009 People’s Choice Award (Commercial)

1st place, commercial category Featuring: Duvall Law Offices

In this competition which takes place annually during the Eugene Celebration weekend, local architects and landscape architects present their featured projects in various categories, and the citizens of Eugene cast their vote for the best project in each category.




Duvall Building Law Offices
856 Olive Street, Eugene


Nir Pearlson Architect, Inc.


Artisan Engineering


Schar Construction


Transform a 100-year-old downtown commerce building into law office suites and common areas.


A tall arched portal is centered on a new stucco, brick and glass façade and opens onto a lobby, reception area and conference room. Six law offices along the north alley wall are daylit with large glazed apertures. Individual secretarial workstations line the open hallway, separated from the lobby by a delicately-composed screen of steel, translucent glass and wood panels. The interior’s organizing element is a wood-and-steel ‘archive gallery’ serving storage compartments over the workstations and visible from all areas. Support spaces at the back of the building include a break room, upgraded restrooms and storage.


The building was formerly home to multiple businesses, including an auto shop, the Eugene Farmers Creamery, and most recently The Bookmark bookstore.


Roof Insulation: New R-30 insulation added below existing roof framing.
Upgraded Mechanical and Electrical Equipment: Heating / Cooling units upgraded and zoned for efficiency; Rooftop distribution ducts removed and relocated within the building envelope; New light fixtures controlled with daylight zoning and motion-sensors.
Reclaimed Wood: Old high-school Douglas-fir bleacher benches milled into finish trim boards.
Daylighting: Maximized via oversized façade windows, ample north-facing glass block apertures at offices and large skylights at open office area.

Should you start a home-based business?

Architect Nir Pearlson’s work can be seen all around town.

He said the years he spent working for other firms gave him the skills he needed to start his own business — from home

“I can step out here at night or early in the morning or on the weekend and still be somewhat connected to what’s going on at home,” said Pearlson.

Pearlson said he was not excited about aspects of his business like accounting. So he sought out the services of Lane Community College Small Business Development Center.

The Small Business Development Center assists people with plans for starting their own business. The program is a three year commitment.

“I owe so much of what I do now and most of my business to all my friends and mentors,” said Pearlson.

Gary E. Smith is an instructor at the center who worked with Pearlson on a business plan. Smith meets with his students one on one to give them advice based on their specific needs. He said more of his students want to own their own business and work from home.

“You have to make sure that it is suitable for the business, that you can have a business and it can be ran from your home,” said Smith.

But Smith said a desire to run your own company isn’t enough. He stated four things people should think about before they start their own company.

1. Delegate vs. Abdicate: Someone who delegates is involved in the entire business process and gives someone else a task when they are unable to tackle it. Someone who abdicates puts things off and isn’t involved in the process at all. Smith said this person is not an ideal candidate to run a business.

2. Have to be good at what you do: Ask yourself if you can compete with the top 20 percent in the market.

3. Know your product: Remember just because you love to do something doesn’t mean people will pay you for it.

4. Resources: Ask yourself do you have the money to survive the start up period?
Smith said the faculty at the Small Business Development Center wants businesses to succeed. He said it is this success that will employ people in the community and boost the local economy.

Hearth and home

Pearlson said staying close to family was his main motivation for building his office.

He converted his garage into an office that is just the right fit for his employees and himself. He said owning his own business has been a dream of his for years.

“It is a creative process. It is really a creative endeavor, creating a business,” said Pearlson.

He said running a home office saves him money on taxes, rent and expenses like Internet and phone.

He has also invested in his property by adding to the garage and making it a fully functional room.

“Pay yourself enough so you can create something that you can use when things start going up again,” said Pearlson.

And Pearlson is confident that once the housing market is back up, the changes he has made will be money well spent.

Once a Cocoon, Now a Butterfly

It may seem the fairy godmother had a hand in this remodel — the transformation was almost as radical as a frog becoming a prince — but that would have been wishful thinking for owner Clark Fagot.

Instead he paid top dollar, in the literal sense, to remove the core of his modest-size, single-level home in south Eugene and reconstruct it with Northwest woods and a boxy but daring second-floor master suite oriented for window light and city views.

Fagot declines to say how much the remodel cost, but declares “I’ve never had a moment of buyer’s remorse.” The 42-year-old video game programmer attended schools in this 30th-Avenue neighborhood, graduating from South Eugene High School in 1985, and he’s grateful for its lifestyle conveniences.

“Now I have a nice place to live, and it’s where I want it,” says Fagot (pronounced fuh-go), noting the easy commute by bicycle, bus or car to his office on Fifth Avenue. “It’s something where it affects your lifestyle, where you want to put your money.”

Shady past

If ever a little house needed to sprout wings for a breezy new interior, it could be this one. In fact the original 1,200-square-foot home had such a low-slung roof with dark overhangs, made all the more gloomy indoors by soffited drop ceilings, it was almost like living in a cocoon.

A cramped cocoon at that. The little galley kitchen was separated from the diminutive dining room, and a slim hallway — just beyond 2 feet wide — made for dim passage to three small bedrooms and the home’s only bathroom.

And yet, when Eugene architect Nir Pearlson arrived on the scene, hired by Fagot to remake the home, he took cheer in certain of the little abode’s mid-century modern features.

He especially loved how glass-block columns illuminated the cozy front entry, how a slight butterfly roof graced the one-car garage, and how ’50s charm still shone through various fixtures and surfaces.

“We definitely took modernist cues that existed in the house,” Pearlson says in explaining his plan of attack for remodeling the core of the original house and adding 750 square feet of soaring new space above.

The trick, he adds, was to “liberate” the mid-century modernism elements with livability luxuries relished in today’s Pacific Northwest homes, namely generous window light, native woods, taller ceilings and enduring craftsmanship. Once work began, the project was nothing short of major surgery for general contractor Nick Russo.

“Very little, if any, of the central section remains of the original structure,” sums up Russo, a home designer himself and owner of Renaissance Remodeling & Restoration in Eugene. “I’d say 80 percent of it is new.”

Up, up and away

Building up on a modest, older home gets spendy. Complex structural elements — reinforced foundation, load-bearing framing — must be retrofitted to support the new second floor.

But it was the best option for Fagot’s home, says Pearlson. “It’s an urban infill. The rationale of going up makes complete sense: small house on a small lot in a dense environment.”

No mistaking Fagot’s home now. The upper-floor addition sets atop the original house like a big box, only with a slight V-shaped roofline. The minimalist design, which Pearlson says was like taking the baby-butterfly shape of the original garage roof and “putting it on steroids,” helps open the house to the outdoors. “Our goal (for the second floor) was an upward motion as you move out,” Pearlson says. “You bring the outside in, as opposed to what you would have with a flat roof or a vault.”

Contractor Russo allows the remodel “makes a pretty strong statement” in what he refers to as a post-war neighborhood built during the dawn of mass-production tract housing. But the rebuilt house would fit right in with neighborhoods in his native Bay Area, Russo says, and he expects to see more of such bold additions as buildable land becomes scarce in Eugene.

“Those neighborhoods that used to be in decline, like (this) Alder Street neighborhood, are going to turn around again,” he predicts. “Hopefully, for people like me, they will choose to renovate. I tell people, ‘We’re reinventing these structures into the modern era.’ That’s what we do.”

Fresh start

The new day in Fagot’s home starts with brighter living.

Upstairs and down, ceilings capture an Oregon essence with hemlock decking atop exposed Douglas fir beams. Most floors in the home are now white oak, and recycled fir — milled from old bleacher seats — makes for window sills, door casings and rails on the new stairway.

Upstairs, the open bedroom suite has luxuries like a jetted soaking tub — sitting out in the open all on its own — next to a modernist gas warming stove. A “wet zone” swath of slate extends from the tub to a bathroom adorned with travertine tile and glass-block shower.

Lofty windows illuminate the suite, with views extending east to the south hills and west to Amazon Park. For lounging around on sunny days, Fagot can step from the suite’s home office onto an 8-by-10-foot outside deck.

Downstairs, a radical new grand space combines kitchen, dining room and a modernistic, wide-open reverse stairway where a bedroom had been. Taller ceilings help brighten the living room, which also now merges with the grand space.

The rebuilt kitchen preens with brushed-metal appliances, beech cabinets and luxurious granite countertops. New built-ins include a work island and pantry.

Pearlson made good on his promise for modernistic cues with clean lines and exposed structures, such as the ceiling beams, which extend outside of the home for sheltering eaves. The new, wide-open staircase also is a bit stark with steel cables in place of balusters.

Windows upstairs have no wood framing, other than the sills, for a so-called sheetrock return.

It all adds up to a new realm of livability for Fagot. “When I’m lying around, it’s very homey,” he says. “It makes me feel at ease.”

2008 People’s Choice Award (Residential)

1st Place – Residential
Featuring: McKenzie River Residence

In this competition which takes place annually during the Eugene Celebration weekend, local architects and landscape architects present their featured projects in various categories, and the citizens of Eugene cast their vote for the best project in each category.



McKenzie River Residence


Watson Family


Nir Pearlson Architect, Inc.

Landscape Architect:

LandCurrent Landscape Architecture

Structural Engineer:

K & A Engineering

General Contractor:

Greg Morrow & Sons, Inc.



Design a compact modern home on a wooded slope fronting the McKenzie River. Integrate the structure into its natural setting. Reduce impact & energy consumption. Maximize daylighting and indoor-outdoor connections.


  • Living and master wings occupy two separate square, tall volumes joined by a low-profile entry hall
  • Second floor slab is set on concrete piles, suspended over the sloping ground
  • Minimalist modern design couples industrial elements with traditional post & beam construction
  • Simple yet expressive material palette includes concrete, stucco, wood & steel
  • Shed roofs lifting in opposite directions afford tall panoramic views to nature’s drama of basalt, forest & river

Sustainable Strategies

  • Small footprint: Compact design & raised floor allows regeneration of the forest floor
  • Radiant mass heat: Hydronic tubes circulate super-efficiently heated water in concrete floor slab
  • Daylighing: Oversized windows & transoms
  • Reclaimed materials: Rigid insulation boards & finish woodwork
  • Increased insulation: R-40 insulated roof & super-deep wall cavities

2008 People’s Choice Award (Commercial)

1st place, commercial category
Featuring: La Perla Pizzeria Napoletana

In this competition which takes place annually during the Eugene Celebration weekend, local architects and landscape architects present their featured projects in various categories, and the citizens of Eugene cast their vote for the best project in each category.



La Perla Pizzeria Napoletana
1313 Pearl Street, Eugene 97401
(formerly Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor)


Nir Pearlson Architect, Inc.

Structural Engineer:

K & A Engineering

Electrical Engineer:

Jim Krumsick & Synergy Engineering

Lighting Design:

Balzheiser & Hubbard Engineers

Food Service Design / Equipment:

Curtis Restaurant Equipment

General Contractor:

The Industrial Company

Solar Panels Design / Build:

Energy Design & Solar Assist



Transform a familiar ice-cream parlor into a modern, enduring landmark


  • Tall windows wrap the building corner, opening onto the celebratory energy within
  • A modern-day steel colonnade announces the entrance and shelters outdoor seating
  • An entry atrium leads to expansive seating, a wine & espresso bar, and the main event: the pizza prep area fronting a massive wood-fired oven
  • Old Italy is infused into this contemporary Northwest building via subtle interpretive gestures: an ordered indoor-outdoor grid of columns, a sky-lit atrium, decorative steel arches, and a rich palette of textures and earthy colors
  • Construction materials are revealed in a modern composition of concrete, stone, wood, steel, plaster, and the sparkle of colored glass

Sustainable Strategies:

  • Daylighing: Oversized windows & sky-lit atrium
  • Shading: Awnings, blinds & specialty glazing
  • Solar energy: Photovoltaic panels mounted on roof & awning
  • Sustainably-harvested wood:
  • Glue-laminated timbers & ceiling finish boards
  • Manufactured ‘off-the-shelf’ components:
  • Structural members: steel & glue-lam; Wainscoting panels: corrugated steel & fiber-cement
  • R-40 insulated roof:
  • Encloses ceiling cavity with updated heating/cooling ducts
  • Upgraded electrical equipment:
  • Heating/cooling units; programmable lighting controls with zoning, dimming & sensors

The Nature of Design

Joy Watson and her husband, Doug, probably are every architect’s dream clients: When it came time to design their new home overlooking the McKenzie River east of Springfield, she said, “We just got out of the way and let Nir (Pearlson) do it.”

The result was something the couple never would have come up with themselves, “and we’re more than happy with it,” Watson said. “If I had been there putting my two cents in, we wouldn’t have gotten this.”

A lot of other people also appreciated the effort, because during the voting held last month during the Eugene Celebration, the Watson home won the single-family residential prize in the People’s Choice Awards, an annual competition sponsored by the Southwestern Oregon chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Pearlson also won the top spot in the commercial category for another of his projects, La Perla Pizzeria Napoletana, a complete redo of the building at 13th and Pearl streets in downtown Eugene that formerly housed the iconic red-and-white striped Farrell’s ice cream parlor and served as the birthday party capital for generations of local children.

You’d never recognize it now. Gone are the dark wood (and vaguely sticky) tabletops, the red-hot walls and the clamoring decor that gave the place a nonstop fever pitch. By contrast, La Perla is spare, sophisticated and subtle, a combination of Pacific Northwest sensibilities and overtones of traditional Italian shapes and colors. It’s just what Pearlson was aiming for when he and the building’s owners, Beppe Macchi and John “Gianni” Barofsky — who first made their culinary mark with Beppe & Gianni’s Trattoria at 19th and Agate streets — first sat down to come up with a design for La Perla, which opened at the end of June.

“The basic idea is a feeling of Italy moved to Eugene, but it’s a totally Northwest product with mostly local materials and lots of light,” Pearlson said. “We took some ideas from traditional Italian architecture, like arches and columns, and stripped them down to their essence, like a shadow of the original.”

After removing the old checkerboard floor tiles, the beat-up slab floor got a coat of stain and clear finish reminiscent of “a floor with a history and a story,” he said. The skylit atrium in the entry recalls shafts of light between tall Italian buildings, and the masonry and stone in the oven area recalls the earthen colors and textures of Mediterranean culture.

To Pearlson’s surprise, La Perla’s new vibrant green exterior and metal-clad base raised more eyebrows than any other aspect of its design.

“Someone called and said they didn’t like the color and that other people didn’t either,” he said. “What we did here, which we really didn’t think was radical at all, apparently was a little bit of a push for some people.”

Both of Pearlson’s prizewinning designs, and many others in the competition, share what appears to be a value among architects in the area to introduce interesting — if sometimes unexpected — building materials in designs that build on rather than dominate their landscape.

A major exception, of course, is Eugene’s two-year-old Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse that makes no pretense of anything but garnering attention. But Pearlson acknowledges that architect Thom Mayne’s controversial glass and stainless steel edifice with its swoops and angles “probably has helped to release something in local architecture.”

“Many people here are so hooked on gabled, traditional forms of design that it can be difficult to introduce new things,” he said. “I think a lot of architects in town wish they could move things a little faster, but the public is often quite conservative (about design). But I think the courthouse probably did help with that, that people who didn’t like it at first are getting used to it and feeling more relaxed about it.”


“We were originally thinking of building in traditional farmhouse style — old, old,” Joy Watson said. “We originally were trying to buy 100 acres near Creswell, and that went on for a long time and then the whole thing fell through. So we started looking at river property instead.”

After losing out on two other riverfront properties, they jumped at the chance to buy their five acres on Deerhorn Road, only to find afterward that most of it is zoned for exclusive forestry use, leaving just a small homesite area with a steep hill immediately behind it available for building.

“At that point, I was so upset about losing my original idea of farmhouse, acreage and chickens, I decided to do the total opposite and go completely modern,” Watson said. “We told Nir that we wanted a simple, very modern, minimalist house, and this is what he gave us.”

Essentially, the Watson house is two sections facing opposite directions, joined by a central corridor. The roof of the “public” area — open kitchen, dining and living rooms — slants upward from back to front to capture the view of the trees and the river. On the private side, the roof slants upward front to back, giving the master bedroom the opened-up view of the rocky hillside just beyond.

“Before I did the design, I came out and sat here for hours, getting the feel of the land,” Pearlson said. “This house is definitely designed for this site — it was not brought in, it ‘became’ here.”

A huge “sentinel” rock outcropping dominates the building site, and the house was pushed as close as legally allowed to the property line “to keep the building away from the rock’s line of energy,” he said. “But it’s an important part of the site — it looms there, definitely part of the design, and we wanted to incorporate it.”

Other large basalt boulders removed during excavation for the house’s underpinnings also have been incorporated in its landscaping, “merging the human creation with the natural,” Pearlson said. The house is mostly wood and glass, with exposed concrete floors and plastered walls whose colors blend into the hues on the adjoining outside surfaces. The roof sections, beam ends and trim are zinc-treated steel.

At 1,500 square feet with an additional 500 square feet of unfinished space below the main floor, the house is small by recent standards. Because of the challenging building site, the cost came in at about $220 per square foot, Watson said. Its size and clean, open spaces has encouraged the couple to declutter their lives. She’s delighted at the impetus to keep and acquire only what is essential.

“I’m addicted to modern now,” Watson said. “Design is something I just never thought much about, but this is just gorgeous.”