University of Oregon Alumnis is “The New Now”

Architecture professors and faculty welcome back a former University of Oregon student who is taking the skills and knowledge he learned at the university and transforming the traditional ways of design.

University of Oregon alumnus Thomas Kosbau returned to the UO to give a small lecture on his company ORE and discussing bio-mimetics. A small crowd filled with former professors and current students gathered Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. in Lawrence 177 to hear Kosbau speak. Kosbau’s company is based in Brooklyn, which he described the design community as fantastic. When he first moved to New York he lived in Manhattan but he felt out of roots so when he crossed the bridge to Brooklyn he welcomed the Portland-feel.  Kosbau is back in Oregon as the keynote speaker at the Oregon Design Conference, where the theme this year is: “The New Now”.

Kosbau’s former professor and the man who set up his visit, Dr. Ihab Elzeyadi, believes Kosbau exemplifies everything about “The New Now” with his boundary breaking approach to architecture and his fearless attitude. “Tom was suggested because he works in a way that is untraditional and innovative” he said. Elzeyadi is proud of all that Kosbau has accomplished and expects to see many more great projects in the future.

After graduating from the University of Oregon in 2005 with a degree in architecture Kosbau moved to New York. He worked for various other firms and used his spare time to do projects he was more interested in. After returning from a vacation to find the firm he had been working at shut down Kosbau had the final push to start up his own company. ORE was created and the projects Kosbau once left for the weekend were now full time ventures.

As of right now, ORE consists of four full time workers who are enthusiastic about the future or architecture and design. Kosbau believes part of the reason ORE is becoming so well known and used by commercial companies is because ORE is less expensive than many firms out there. The small number of employees allows the powerful designs and ideas to stay in focus and concentrated on.

Kosbau spoke about how many of the projects he has done, or is planning to do, started at the University of Oregon. Kosbau told the audience that the name ORE held its roots from Oregon but it also symbolizes the company’s method of coming up with, and utilizing new and natural ways of solving problems in the design and technology worlds.

Since starting ORE in 2009 Kosbau and his team have won numerous awards for their innovative designs. In 2010 the company won the Incheon International Design Award for their research and design plan to eliminate asphalt and replace it with natural sandstone. And most recently in 2012 ORE designed bio-mimetic cacti that harvest water from the air, which won the top design award in the William Turnbull Competition Drylands Design award.

After the presentation Marti Gerdes, a communication specialist in the Architecture department and member of the audience, was impressed with everything Kosbau has accomplished since graduating and praised his drive. Gerdes said Kosbau’s presentation was TED level quality and someone needed to get connected with him to do more of these types of talks.

 

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