This year—our final one occupying Washington High School—we’ve switched things up a bit for our beer garden buildout. Here, on the eve of the Festival, architect Ellen Fortin offers a little behind-the-scenes peek at her plan, and the work it took to make it all happen.

The plans…

“I have been working with other artists on creating temporary architecture for PICA for years—ever since the creation of the Dada Ball bar, complete with a 30’ high nautilus enclosure of white gauzy diaper fabric. It’s been a long history of making cool things with little money, borrowed materials, and lots of committed artists.

This is the last year that PICA will use Washington High School for THE WORKS. It has been a comfortable, yet sprawling site to transform over the last few years. Each year we take a different approach. To me, when walking the site, there is one great space: the WHS front entry, which is a stunning perch with a canopy of trees and a view of Portland in the distance. Everything should be THERE: the TBA entry, the Beer Garden, and access to the WHS performances, with more focus, more energy, and maybe a little tension in one primary place.

Wayfinding. In a big way. Photo: Mitchell Snyder.

We needed to create some shelter, clarity of direction, identity, and containment. We needed to focus on the performances. We needed to move lots of people, accommodate casual dining, and a very big bar. And of course, it needs to be temporary, quick, and cheap.

Experientially, we’ve created a kind of threshold at several key points as you move through the site. These transitions mark the entry to the TBA Festival, the Beer Garden, and finally to the interior WHS performance venues. These thresholds are a symbolic beginning and end, a boundary, a point at which you step through the looking glass and suspend disbelief. Have fun. We hope organic and spontaneous things can happen with this convergence.”

Megan Holmes painting light boxes.

The awesome team at ADX setting up our portals.

ADX really rallied around TBA and built us our beautiful light box entry way.

Guildworks rigging their sky sails.

Guildworks sails at night. Photo: Mitchell Snyder.


The people love it! Photo: Wayne Bund.

The result… Photo: Mitchell Snyder.

A huge amount of thanks goes out to Ellen Fortin Design + Architecture, Makenna Lehrer, Megan Holmes, ADX, Guildworks, Bill Boese, Eco Productions, and all of the volunteers who made this year’s design for THE WORKS into a reality. We could not have done it without you!

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  1. Michelle English says:

    It looks amazing! It is a huge improvement from last year.

  2. Richard says:

    Wonderful! How might one get involved the next time something like this comes around?

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