Above: Portland International Airport, terminal access project, Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Eckert & Eckert.
A gift to the UO by Larry and Janice Bruton will make a difference for the School of Architecture and Allied Arts for years to come. The Brutons have made a $5 million deferred gift commitment to aid faculty recruitment and retention, keeping the future leaders of architecture, design, planning, policy, art and architectural history, and the arts at the UO.
This legacy donation from former school Board of Visitors member Larry Bruton and his wife, Janice, is a testament to their commitment to Oregon, to higher education, and to the faculty and students in A&AA. “I want to support excellence, and faculty are the foundation of a great program. However, I know there are real challenges for the university. Retention will be the battle for Oregon in the future,” said Larry Bruton during a recent interview.
A successful businessman, Larry Bruton, FAIA, is a talented designer and architect. He knows how important retaining leaders are to any business, whether a leading design firm like ZGF Architects or the University of Oregon.
“Why do we support higher education? For us, that’s easy, it’s the engine of our economy,” says Bruton. “It helps the state of Oregon expand opportunity and keep talented people here. For example, architecture faculty research and teaching activities improve the quality of our built environment. The better we can train and teach future architects, the better for all of us.”
Above: Portland International Airport, terminal expansion project, Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Eckert & Eckert.
Frances Bronet, dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, added her unique perspective on the importance of the Brutons’ gift. “Their estate gift will provide flexible and responsive funding that meets critical needs for our school. Each year, our top faculty members are aggressively sought by other leading programs that wish to hire them away. The Brutons have identified an issue that affects us now, and will in the future. By identifying a range of opportunities for funding professorships, chairs, or deanships, we can use the funds where the impact on the faculty is greatest. This is a tremendous, and generous, gift made by people who value education and love Oregon.”
“I reconnected with the school through the Board of Visitors,” Bruton says. My six years on the board helped build an appreciation for what a great program we have at UO. It has given me so much and I wanted to give back.” After the A&AA board, he continued his service on the UO Foundation Board of Trustees and just completed his ten-year term this spring.
As principal and partner of the firm ZGF Architects, Bruton had his hand in building a successful company. He joined the firm in 1971 and was made partner in 1987 as ZGF Architects grew to one of the largest and most widely regarded firms in the nation. As the firm expanded from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, then to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York, Bruton was involved in major projects at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the Engineering Unit 2 research building at the University of California, Irvine.
“The initial partners of the firm, Norm Zimmer, Brooks Gunsul, and Bob Frasca, helped found the modern firm. We have focused on the ‘three legs of the stool’ with business, design, and technical as the structure,” says Bruton. “We steered away from the studio structure that some other firms practice, and, instead, worked to develop a team of the most diverse group of people. We had to be able to compose for each project an outstanding team. ZGF has always been a very collaborative firm.” His contribution to the firm is evidenced by a body of work that was instrumental in the firm receiving the top award given by the American Institute of Architects—the AIA Firm Award in 1991. Bruton retired in November 2011.
Above: Janice and Larry Bruton with Scotti at their home in Portland. Photo: Michael McDermott
Bruton was often a lead architect on airport expansion projects, a specialization that helped him early in his career. His first projects were a master plan for the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., and design for expansion of the Philadelphia International Airport. He was able to turn this work, along with good networking skills, into a position working on the new international airport in Stockholm. It was the Portland airport expansion and the new position at ZGF Architects that convinced the Brutons to make Portland their home in 1971.
Janice Bruton is also no stranger to higher education. Her father was a math professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where she grew up. She studied dance at the University of Utah before doing graduate work at the University of British Columbia, where she received her degree in library science. She and Larry met at the University of Oregon, where she was working as a reference librarian. She also worked as the art and architecture librarian at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and as a librarian at San Francisco State University while Larry was doing graduate work at the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley.
After moving to Portland when Larry joined ZGF, Jan became the co-owner of A Children’s Place Bookstore. She and her business partner, Lynn Kelly, sold books and music to a generation of new parents and grandparents and promoted concerts for children’s music performers. They were the first to bring Raffi to the United States; Raffi later became a children’s music superstar. After 21 years, they decided to sell the business and retire.
In retirement, Jan has become a licensed American Kennel Club (AKC) dog judge. The Brutons have bred and shown Lhasa Apso dogs since 1976. Jan is also a current board member at American Lhasa Apso Club. “There is a community of people all over the country that we see every year as part of our dog show activities,” Larry says.
Above: Vollum Institute for Biomedical Research, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Strode Eckert.
Their decision to make a major gift to A&AA was part of a careful process that had UO at its core. “When Jan and I looked at what we wanted to do with our estate, we wished to do something that would be most impactful to the University of Oregon that has given so much to us,” Bruton says. “Our gift is tailored so the school has maximum flexibility to meet future needs and can be tailored to the size of the final gift. Our first gift, to the Department of Architecture, to establish a fund for faculty research and development, was a first step for us. Once we built that up, we looked at what else we wanted to do and to really focus on where we could offer the greatest impact.”
When asked to reflect on his UO education, Bruton talks about the transformation of new faculty members and ideas and how it fueled his passion to study architecture. “Midway through my professional education at UO, there was a significant change in the faculty that involved an infusion of several new, dynamic, bright, and challenging people into the longstanding tradition of the program. I cannot help but believe that the contributions of these people greatly enriched my education, broadened my horizon, and ultimately helped me find much greater professional success and personal satisfaction with my career in architecture,” he says. “It was like the barn doors opened up and I wanted to see the world.” Bruton received his bachelor of architecture in 1967 from UO and his master of architecture from University of California, Berkeley in 1970.
“I am therefore committed to foster in whatever way I can the continual improvement in the quality of the program through the encouragement of excellence in teaching,” Bruton says.
The Brutons gift will certainly do just that. “It will truly transform the future of the school,” adds Dean Bronet. “We are honored by their commitment and partnership in building a bright and ambitious future for A&AA."
Above: Bonneville Power Administration headquarters, Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Strode Eckert.
Above: Oregon Convention Center expansion, spires detail, Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Timothy Hursley.
Above: Oregon Convention Center expansion, skylight, interior view, Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Richard H. Strode, Strode Photographic, LLC.
Above: Twelve West mixed-use building, ZGF Architects headquarters interior, Portland, Oregon. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Nick Merrick, Hedrich Blessing.
Above: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8 headquarters, Denver, Colorado, atrium detail. Image courtesy of ZGF Architects LLP © Robert Canfield.