Mission & History


The Architecture Foundation of Oregon supports Oregon’s quality of life and creates awareness of our designed environments through education, engagement, philanthropy & inspiration.

Design can be nearly invisible yet it has considerable impact on our everyday lives. afo helps people connect to design and the ways in which it shapes their lives and their communities.

As populations continue to grow and the natural environment is increasingly built upon, afo works to foster thoughtful, considered decisions about the buildings and infrastructure that are placed in our world. Oregon, in particular, is a very special, almost sacred place. With its rugged Pacific coastline, its pristine mountain ranges, sumptuous river valleys, vast high deserts and fertile agricultural lands, it reminds us of why our predecessors faced arduous journeys to reside here.

Putting a shovel in that land, felling a tree, pouring a foundation, erecting or altering a structure, neighborhood or community are privileges that come with a deep responsibility to step lightly on the earth. We share responsibility, not only in terms of ecological consciousness, but also with regard to the visual, spatial and tactile impact that the built environment has on our daily lives. We must pay attention to the shadows that are cast, the pathways that might be blocked, and the connections that may be broken as changes are made.

Thoughtful, considered design enhances our relationship to the natural environment and to humanity. afo works to help Oregonians understand this and to learn how they can contribute to preserving our very special sense of place even as our numbers increase and our presence expands.

afo is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.


With a desire to use their geometry for the greater good of Oregonians, founding members John Matteson, AIA, William Fletcher, FAIA, Brooks Gunsul, FAIA, William Merrit, AIA, Gary Michael, FAIA, Richard E. Ritz, AIA, Jon Schleuning, FAIA, and Roger Yost, FAIA, began the Architecture Foundation of Oregon in 1981.

Five founding firms provided initial funding for the fledgling foundation: BOORA Architects, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, SRG Partnership, Yost Grube Hall Architects, and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership. Each contributed $5,000 to help fund an endowment and incorporated afo as a not for profit Oregon corporation in 1983. Other contributions were received from AIA/Portland, architectural firms and individuals to provide operating funds.