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Sunday, February 10, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Canada's John Patkau headlines AIA event

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Award-winning Canadian architect John Patkau, who's garnered recognition from Vancouver to Venice, will be the speaker at the annual Seattle Times/American Institute of Architects Home of the Year event. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the University of Washington's Kane Hall.

The event, open to the public, will include announcement of the Home of the Year. It is selected by a panel of local art and architecture judges from among the 14 homes featured last year as Seattle Times/AIA Seattle Chapter open houses. There will also be a retrospective look at all 14.

Patkau and his wife and partner, architect Patricia Patkau, founded Patkau Architects in 1983 in Vancouver, B.C. Currently, some 80 percent of their work involves institutional design, including a University of Texas research facility with a roof angled like a parasol to create shade and direct rain.

The remaining 20 percent of the firm's practice is residential architecture, which will be the subject of Patkau's presentation here. Specifically, he will feature three homes, including one designed for a couple of New Yorkers relocating to San Juan Island. Last fall, that home received one of three top awards presented by the American Institute of Architects Seattle chapter. Patkau has also won several prestigious international awards, numerous Canadian awards and was chosen to represent Canada at the 1996 Venice Biennale.

The other two homes he'll discuss are a Vancouver, B.C., residence he describes as "very minimal, austere and elegant," and a home on Vancouver Island he designed for an Ontario couple making a major lifestyle change.

All three are examples of one of his hallmarks: geographic contextualism, which he defines as architecture that "responds to its circumstances instead of bringing in a preconceived agenda. We're very much interested in making 'place' in context of a culture that's increasingly global."

This means, for example, that Patkau's approach to designing a rural Pacific Northwest residence would be much different from one he'd design for a Southern California beach town. There, a home might respond to its warmer, sunnier climate by being "all glass, with patios and indoor/outdoor continuity and a lot of white and reflective materials."

But to give a sense of the Northwest as a place, to fit with the light, climate and geography, he'd use a lot of wood and visually warm materials, he says. He describes the award-winning 3,000-square-foot San Juan Island home as "a fence that separates meadow from a very beautiful view."

It's a statement that resonated with AIA contest judges, who commented that "it feels as if, after a long walk through the woods, one might come upon this house as if it had grown out of the ground, an elementary poetic structure."

The discussion about the Home of the Year and other 2001 Seattle Times/AIA open houses will be conducted by this year's contest judges. They are architect John Eggleston of Eggleston Farkas Architects (who also won a 2001 AIA Honor Award), artist Karen Guzak of Angel Arms Works, and Peter Stoner of Peter Stoner Architects. He's designed several residences featured over the years in the open-house program.

General admission is $18 ($15 for AIA members) in advance or $18 at the door. Student admission is $5. Tickets can be ordered online at www.aiaseattle.org or by stopping into the AIA Seattle office at 1911 First Ave., Seattle, 98101. They can also be ordered by mail at that address if payment and a stamped, self-addressed envelope are enclosed. Visa and Mastercard orders can be placed by phone or fax. The phone number is 206-448-4938; fax is 206-448-2562. A $1.50 handling fee will be added to credit-card orders.

Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at erhodes@seattletimes.com

Information in this article, originally published February 10, was corrected February 12. Tickets for the Feb. 22 Seattle Times/American Institute of Architects Home of the Year event are $18 at the door. Advance tickets are $18 for nonmembers, $15 for AIA members, $5 for students who bring or fax a copy of their student ID to AIA/Seattle (for more information, call AIA Seattle, 206-448-4938). Based on information provided by AIA, an incorrect price for advance tickets was published in an earlier version of this article.

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