Sunday, February 26, 2017

Architecture in Film and Video

 Screenshot from American Masters: Eero Saarinen - The Architect Who Saw the Future (2016)
 
If there’s a bright side to the dreary, damp days of a Willamette Valley winter, it’s that we can allow ourselves the indulgence of cocooning within the warm and cozy confines of our homes. In the past, this may have meant curling up with a good book while sipping a cup of hot tea or cocoa. Today, thanks to always-on wireless Internet connectivity and high-definition video, we also have immediate access to a boundless treasure trove of information, knowledge, and entertainment. While some may lament how insidious and addicting the Internet can be, there’s no doubt its content can engage, educate, and excite us, as well-written books have always done. The Internet is merely the medium; the message is still clearly what counts. 

Architecture is well-suited to the immersive potential of the Internet. Architecture is visual, dynamic, and relatable. Short of experiencing real buildings and places firsthand, film and video are perhaps the most powerful means to convey their unique qualities. The Internet has become a convenient repository for anyone who produces a documentary film or treatise about architecture, so the number of good resources on the topic has grown exponentially. Whereas it once seemed you could only find a handful of quality productions each year, there now exists an overwhelming volume of uploaded films and videos about architecture to sift through. 

Separating the wheat from the chaff is challenging. You do have to be discerning to recognize the best the Internet offers. It’s hard to explain, but I do tend to immediately recognize studiously researched, well-written and directed, and substantive work. I certainly cannot claim to have seen all the best documentary films, videos, or vlogs available online about architecture, but I can immediately suggest a few I enjoyed and found significant. There are also many sites that aggregate the best as vetted by juries or respected critics. 

To start with, here are several links to websites listing many of the best films and videos about architecture and design as judged by others: 
And here are direct links to three movies, a video documentary series, a TED Talk, and a vlog I found particularly noteworthy; consider these my recommendations for the next cold, rainy day when you have an architectural itch you must scratch but would rather not venture outside: 


My Architect (2003):
The 2003 documentary film about architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) by his son Nathaniel Kahn was an Academy Award nominee for best documentary and is now a classic of its genre. The film details Lou Kahn's extraordinary career and Nathaniel’s accounting of his father’s legacy following his death in 1974.


American Masters – Eero Saarinen (2016):
Like Nathaniel Kahn’s reflection about his father, the PBS documentary about Lou Kahn’s contemporary Eero Saarinen is viewed through the lens of his son, Eric, who likewise produced and directed the film. The production is visually stunning, shot in 6K with the latest in drone technology, showcasing the architect’s body of timeless work. 


Archiculture (2016):
Archiculture offers a unique glimpse into the world of studio-based, design education through the eyes of a group of students finishing their final design projects. The film includes interviews with leading professionals, historians, and educators, who address key issues faced by the unique teaching methodology and the studio environment the students all share. 


Architecture Documentary in 23 Episodes:
I’m not exactly sure how old this series of films is, but it does appear to be a French production (narrated in English) with individual segments directed variously by Stan Neumann, Richard Copans, Frederic Compain, Julien Donada, or Catherine Adda. I’ve included it here because of its breadth and quality, which is quite good. 


TED Talks: Michael Green – Why we should build wooden skyscrapers (2013):
Michael Green calls for rapid systemic change in the way we build. His proposal: Forget steel, straw, concrete, shipping containers, and rammed earth. Use wood to erect urban skyscrapers. In this TED Talk Green explores the plausibility of tall wood buildings—the costs, benefits, and engineering challenges. 


The Next Era of Architecture (The Nerdwriter):
Evan Puschak is the Nerdwriter. He produces a weekly web series that aims to foster a commitment to an intellectual life. He believes life is philosophical, political, moral, psychological, financial, artistic, scientific, and that what is worth knowing is worth entwining into a comprehensive web. 

Evan isn’t an architect (he studied film production at Boston University) but I found his video about the next era of architecture both succinct and spot on. Architecture since post-modernism has largely gone undefined. In its place is a new pluralism that is both tolerant and messy. If anything, there is a void in architecture waiting to be filled. If a non-architect can recognize this, we all should.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Film and video will never completely supplant the actual experience of being there, nor should they, no matter how sophisticated virtual reality technologies may become. Regardless, they can in a way take us to places we might otherwise never visit, just as a well-written novel might transplant us viscerally to an imagined world. The best films and videos about architecture expand our horizons, a wondrous thing when our immediate prospects are confined by the walls and roof that shelter us from the blustery, wet reality outdoors. 
 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

CoLA Meetings

City of Eugene photo collage by Uoregon14 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
 
AIA-SWO’s Eugene-Springfield Committee on Local Affairs (CoLA) invites all interested chapter members to participate in the committee’s meetings and its advocacy efforts. 

CoLA’s mandate is to promote views, policies, and positions that largely represent the professionally informed opinion of AIA-SWO members on topics of community-wide importance. One of the committee’s goals is to elevate the stature and visibility of architects in general by representing design professionals as active, organized, and concerned public citizens. CoLA assumes an activist posture, engaging design-related issues in the glare of the public eye and perhaps within the political arena. 

CoLA maximizes its effectiveness by taking on a limited number of issues at any moment. The AIA-SWO board does recommend issues for CoLA to consider. The issues the committee chooses to address are of relevance to the profession, of community interest, and come with implications beyond the scope of any single building project. The committee members arrive at consensus agreement on each issue after studying it in detail. They may or may not then decide to formally adopt a public position on the matter. 

Since CoLA’s inception in late 2015, the committee has been active on numerous fronts: 
  • CoLA met with COE staff members regarding the draft Community Design Handbook and provided them with useful feedback.
  • The committee sent two separate letters to the mayor, council, and city manager regarding planning of the stillborn South Willamette Special Area Zone (one regarding how to move forward in the wake of SW-SAZ being halted by the city council, and another regarding the Oregon Consensus Assessment process).
  • CoLA met with individuals representing a variety of perspective on topics of civic interest; these included representatives from WECAN, new mayor Lucy Vinis, and neighborhood-advocate Paul Conte.
  • Members of the committee attended multiple public meetings on a variety of topics of interest to CoLA.
  • CoLA wrote an opinion piece for the Register-Guard endorsing extension of the Eugene downtown urban renewal district.
  • The committee wrote another opinion piece for Eugene Weekly commending the City of Eugene and Lane County for their collaborative efforts to reshape Eugene’s civic center
The roster of current committee members is: 
  • Scott Clarke, AIA – PIVOT Architecture; committee chair 
  • Austin Bailey, AIA – Rowell Brokaw Architects 
  • Eric Gunderson, AIA – PIVOT Architecture 
  • Stan Honn, AIA – AIA-SWO immediate past-president and board representative on CoLA 
  • Randy Nishimura, AIA – Robertson/Sherwood/Architects pc 
  • Travis Sheridan, Assoc. AIA – Willard C. Dixon Architect, LLC 
CoLA wants to hear from all AIA-SWO members to fairly consider and/or represent the full diversity of our architectural community (the committee is admittedly lacking in gender balance at the moment). 

CoLA meets regularly in The Octagon on the fourth Tuesday of each month, at noon. AIA-SWO’s Thursday’s @ 3:00 e-newsletter announces these standing meetings, and they’re also listed on the chapter website’s home page. Additionally, the committee may convene additional meetings or forums as deemed necessary when time-sensitive issues arise. Be sure to weigh in and voice your concerns and opinions at any of CoLA’s meetings!


What:  AIA-SWO Eugene-Springfield Committee on Local Affairs Committee meetings 

When:  From noon to 1:00 PM, on the fourth Tuesday of each month 

Where:  The Octagon, 92 East Broadway, Eugene  

 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Common Edge


I always enjoy reading the opinions of thoughtful writers on topics related to planning and design of the built environment. A while back and much to my delight, I came across the website Common Edge, which brings together many of the best of these essayists. As its “About” page states, the goal of Common Edge is to “generate the resources necessary to research, publish and advocate for a community of engaged designers, writers, public servants, and activist citizens who are committed to creating designs that manifest the highest aspirations of a democratic society.” 

As the site further states, Common Edge is a non-profit “dedicated to reconnecting architecture and design with the public that it’s meant to serve.” Fuzzy, perhaps, but certainly high-minded and commendable. We will never suffer from a shortage of good people dedicated to discussing how architecture can better serve everyone’s interests moving forward. 

The writers Common Edge brings together include Martin C. Pedersen, who is listed as executive director of the Common Edge Collaborative. Others include Duo Dickinson, Graham McKay, Ben Willis, Eva Hagberg Fisher, Steven Bingler, Lance Hosey, among many others. The issues and themes they touch upon are far-ranging but invariably of relevance to all of us who work in the design professions. 

Here is a sampling of just some Common Edge opinion pieces and essays, all of which are much more than simply light fare:
In one of my earliest SW Oregon Architect posts (Walter Mitty: Architect & Blogger) I declared the Internet provides anyone so inclined to write about architecture with a perfect vehicle because of its immediacy and accessibility. Today, nine years on, I still believe the critical mass I cited continues to build. Common Edge is a strong contributor to that critical mass, and its roster of insightful writers is indeed spurring a renaissance in architectural thinking.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Key Principles for a Rejuvenated Civic Center

View looking north from the west Park Block toward the "butterfly" parking lot, future site of Eugene City Hall. (my photo)

The following is a piece regarding the future of Eugene City Hall penned by the members of AIA-SWO’s Committee on Local Affairs (of which I am a member) intended for submission to the Eugene Weekly and The Register-Guard newspapers: 

The Committee on Local Affairs (CoLA) of the American Institute of Architects - Southwestern Oregon Chapter commends Eugene City Council for its decision to work with Lane County officials and pursue locating City Hall on the site of the current “butterfly” parking lot at 8th and Oak. We’re confident locating our new City Hall there can contribute significantly to downtown’s continued revitalization by capitalizing upon a synergy of established public open spaces, symbols of civic engagement, and community-defining facilities. This is a propitious moment worth embracing, an occasion that warrants a proactive and considered evaluation of the prospect at hand.

Toward this goal, we strongly encourage our government leaders to approach plans for City Hall with the following in mind:
 


Hit the Reset Button
The bottom line is the new site is very different from the old one; accordingly, the design for our new City Hall deserves a place-specific solution. Its location at the historic heart of downtown, adjacent to the Park Blocks and the existing County Courthouse, sharing a home with the Lane County Farmers’ Market, and along 8th Avenue—conceptually the city’s “Great Street” for civic uses—presents opportunities and challenges not completely shared by City Hall’s previous location. Simply transplanting the new City Hall design from its old site to the new one unchanged would tragically fail to make the most of a truly unique setting.

Zoom Out
Thinking broadly, the impact of setting City Hall on the “butterfly” lot parcel will extend well beyond its boundaries and immediate neighbors. This is a chance to make a place where City Hall and the pieces it will touch contribute to a much larger and richer whole. We can create a strong civic district but also reinforce 8th Avenue connections to the river and from downtown to the 5th Street Market District (via Oak St). There should be a purposeful effort to update master plans for the whole area. “Zooming out” should also include new occasions for the public to become informed and involved in the planning process. Citizens deserve a forum in which their voices are heard during the early stages of design.

Build Upon the Existing Historical and Physical Context
Much more so than the old City Hall site, the “butterfly” lot is central in both historical and physical terms to downtown Eugene. The new City Hall should acknowledge those contexts, the most important of which may be the Park Blocks. An open and public dialogue to explore their value will be important. The art, stone walls, fish fountain, and other elements of the Park Blocks are noteworthy examples of mid-century modern design and iconic elements of downtown Eugene. We believe an artful balance between improvements and preservation is necessary, adding life to the Park Blocks and sympathetically knitting them together with the future City Hall development.

Reevaluate the Facility Program
Perhaps the change in location warrants a reevaluation of portions of the program. For example, would the prospect of an all-weather shelter for the Farmers’ Market provide a new City Hall with the option of its shared use for civic functions? Does the fact City Hall will be a backdrop for activities on the Park Blocks (including public gatherings larger than would have been imaginable at the formerly proposed site) prompt an architectural solution tailored to that possibility? Do we intend City Hall to be primarily ceremonial and symbolic in nature? Or do we want it to once again be an all-encompassing center for the functions of city government, consolidating presently far-flung departments? If so, now is the time to anticipate future additions to City Hall.

Look to Design as a Crime Prevention Tool
All parts of a vibrant Civic Center can reinforce the safety and security of public spaces using creative Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles. Along with its neighbors, a new City Hall can provide “eyes on the street” and discreetly integrate other design strategies supportive of positive behaviors. Simply encouraging active use of the spaces around the new City Hall would go a long way toward making downtown Eugene attractive to citizens of all ages and from all walks of life.

Be Municipally Modest
Being “municipally modest” and cost-conscious is politically desirable, as are mutually beneficial actions on the part of both the City of Eugene and Lane County. Why not propose rehabilitation and repurposing the Lane County Courthouse (after a new courthouse rises on the old City Hall site) for city department offices? Why not evaluate the County’s Public Service Building when considering the city hall program; options may come to light that allow reconfiguration of spaces in a manner favorable to both the City and the County. Taxpayers will want to know their elected officials are looking at every possible means to prudently stretch available funds.

Pursue Design Excellence
Being who we are, we believe architecture is an art that goes beyond pragmatic problem solving to reflect the people, place, and time of its making. We’re intent upon fostering a culture of design excellence in which citizens equate the quality of the built environment with the quality of their lives, and require the standard of environmental design in their community to be commensurate with their best possible self-image. We know the City of Eugene will continue to set a bar high for the design of City Hall on its new site. A high bar is crucial to changing society’s values structure such that everyone views public design and the pursuit of design excellence as imperatives. 

 *    *    *    *    *    *

In addition to CoLA, others in the local design community similarly applaud the collaborative efforts of our local governments and endorse the Eugene City Council’s decision to move City Hall to the site of the “butterfly” lot. Two of the more vocal among their number, Jerry Diethelm and Otto Poticha, have unabashedly lobbied in favor of this option ever since the old city hall building met its end.

We do think Eugeneans will one day regard the protracted and at times controversial course City Hall traveled to arrive at this point as serendipitous. This is a watershed moment for the project and our downtown; let’s not squander it by failing to make the most of a tremendous opportunity.


Austin Bailey, Scott Clarke, Eric Gunderson, Stan Honn, Randy Nishimura, and Travis Sheridan
Members, American Institute of Architects – Southwestern Oregon Chapter Committee on Local Affairs. (The opinions expressed above are solely those of the members of CoLA, though we do believe our perspective is shared by a preponderance of AIA-SWO members).

 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Eugene Civic Park

 
Many people in Eugene know there are plans to redevelop the historic Civic Stadium property in the heart of Eugene. Indeed, the Eugene Civic Alliance (ECA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, purchased the Civic site in 2015 (before the terrible fire in June of that year consumed the landmark wooden grandstand) with the goal of building and operating a communal sports and entertainment venue. ECA proposes to name the facility Eugene Civic Park. Now that ECA has widely circulated renderings of the proposed development, I feel free to say more about its design and my involvement with the project. 

Leading ECA is a large group of prominent citizens well-known for their service to the Eugene-Springfield community. They all share the same conviction, that our population isn’t as physically active as it needs to be, and that there is shortage of adequate places for children and adults to participate in recreational sports. Youngsters need places where they can learn key movement skills and develop “physical literacy” (the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments, benefitting the healthy development of the whole person). Adults require accessible and attractive facilities where they will sustain healthy levels of activities for a lifetime. ECA is acutely aware how much the dearth of decent gyms and playing fields—in addition to the trend toward reduced physical education time in our schools—is contributing to troubling increases in obesity, diabetes, and an assortment of other preventable conditions. In the words of Kidsports executive director Bev Smith, developing Civic Park “is fundamental to our ability to raise healthy kids and have them grow into active adults . . . without enough functional, available space to play, most kids miss out on what is truly the most cost-effective and practical form of health care. We can’t fail them.” 


Kidsports is one of the key partners in the Civic Park project and will serve as an anchor tenant at Civic Park. Kidsports provides youth team sports experiences for all children, giving all a chance to grow socially by learning teamwork, sportsmanship, and fair play. The organization offers football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, softball, and baseball programs—because growth in multiple sports is vital to kids becoming well-rounded athletes. 

Another year-round anchor tenant will be Lane United FC, a member of the Premier Development League (PDL) of the United Soccer League. Aside from its own games and practices, the team runs youth soccer camps and a recreational 30+ soccer league. 


A wide variety of other local club and recreational sports organizations have expressed interest in what Civic Park will offer. These include City of Eugene recreational leagues in soccer and ultimate Frisbee, youth soccer clubs, local rugby clubs, the Azul semi-pro women’s soccer team, and Northwest Christian University’s men’s and women’s soccer teams. 

To summarize, ECA’s goals for Civic Park are to: 
  1. Improve the health and fitness of children in our community, ensuring equitable access for all 
  2. Build indoor courts and a playing field to fix a shortage of safe and decent places for sports and exercise 
  3. Create a community place that will host tournaments, special events, and minor league soccer 
  4. Ensure that Civic Park operations are financially and environmentally sustainable 
  5. Strengthen the community’s sense of civic solidarity and pride 
 
ECA selected the team of Robertson/Sherwood/Architects pc (RSA) and Skylab Architecture of Portland to lead its design effort early in 2016. To date, our synergistic collaboration is proving to be a great success. 

As with many of our larger projects, RSA is performing the role of executive architect/architect-of-record for Civic Park. In this capacity, we provide project oversight, technical expertise, and a leadership role in ensuring an integrated project process. We also bring to the table our knowledge of local conditions, established relationships with authorities having jurisdiction and familiarity with their processes, and a rapport with our construction team partners. RSA has contributed significantly during the Conceptual Design, Schematic Design, and Design Development phases of the project, and will increasingly assume a greater share of the project burden as we move forward with Construction Documents. My specific role is to be the design team’s project manager. 

Skylab is well-known in the Portland market for its cutting-edge aesthetic. The firm, as its website touts, is “about optimism and exploration; futurism with a touch of irony.” Its portfolio includes such striking projects as Yard, the Columbia Building Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Owl Creek Residence, and the massive Nike World Headquarters Expansion. Despite Skylab’s undeniable design acumen, it was firm associate Jamin AAsum’s pro-bono connection with the Civic Park project prior to ECA’s purchase of the site that favored Skylab’s involvement with the project. 

Jamin’s long history with Eugene—he attended the University of Oregon and was a member of the track & field team as a middle-distance runner, and he owns property today near the campus—means he thoroughly understands our community and its culture; indeed, while Jamin now lives and works in Portland for Skylab, he considers Eugene a home away from home. Along with Matt Scheibe, principal of Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture & Planning, Jamin helped ECA develop its initial list of facility requirements and a visionary plan for ECA prior to its purchase of the Civic site. Jamin’s relationship with many of the key ECA leaders and his thorough awareness of the organization’s goals provided our team with a running start on the project. 

Aerial view from the northeast. The Kidsports field house is in the foreground and the stadium is beyond.

Our design for Civic Park is at once simple and complex. We looked at site connections and forces: site contours, views to the hills, location along transit corridors. A 2,500-seat stadium with a multipurpose, all-season synthetic turf field, plus a field house accommodating four indoor basketball courts (and two outdoor courts), administrative offices, and storage space for Kidsports, are the principal project components. Together, they will provide ECA with an economical sports complex that fulfills all five of the organization’s stated goals. 

The simple part is how logically we ultimately arranged the program elements about the site. The topography, which drops off quickly from its edge along Willamette Street and then more gradually toward its boundary at Amazon Parkway, prompted us to locate the stadium’s elevated concourse and grandstand on the west side, while the playing field occupied the center of the property. This limited our options for siting the field house. Eventually we accepted the inevitability of placing the field house on the eastern border of the site, thus forming a contained space. Experientially it will be a bowl or a “nest” with a clear sense of place rather than one with ill-defined boundaries. Berms at the north and south corners of the stadium will strengthen the sense of containment. The design suggests togetherness, an intimate environment, and a shared experience. At the same time, it will invite views from passersby on Willamette Street across the stadium’s concourse and onto the field. It maximizes what makes the site unique, integrating the architecture with the topography.

Site Plan (click to enlarge)

The design accommodates the possibility of doubling the stadium seating capacity sometime in the future. 

The complex part is ensuring our design for Civic Park meets everyone’s high hopes for the project. These include expectations that the memory of Civic Stadium will not be allowed to simply fade away. We have proposed several subtle moves to ensure its history and significance to many generations are an essential part of the new Civic Park. Budget permitting, these include such gestures as repurposing the old stadium’s salvaged light poles, using board-formed concrete at some of the exposed retaining walls to recall Civic Stadium’s wood siding, incorporating interpretive displays documenting the site’s history, and ghosting the baseplates and pitcher’s mound on the stadium turf with a faintly contrasting turf color. ECA also salvaged the old stadium scoreboard and pieces of structural steel twisted by the intense heat of the destructive fire; how we incorporate these items into the project remains to be determined. Civic Stadium may be gone but we will not let it become forgotten. 

The project is additionally complicated by ECA’s obligation (defined by the purchase agreement for the property) to incorporate a “pocket park” to be maintained by the City of Eugene, as well as a multimodal transportation (bicycles, pedestrians) path traversing the site in the east-west direction to ensure Civic Park is well connected to existing circulation routes in the surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, the city’s off-street parking requirements have demanded a creative response in the form of a project-specific Transportation Demand Management plan (to address the site’s inability to accommodate the full number of vehicle parking spaces required by the Eugene Code). The plan will include a shared parking arrangement with South Eugene High School. 

Kidsports field house Level 1 plan (click to enlarge)

Our proposed design attempts to evoke movement and dynamism. Gestures including syncopated window patterns, angled walls, sloping berms, and shifts in the rib spacing of the metal siding on the field house will all contribute to this illusion. Generous circulation and public gathering spaces will also encourage movement through the site. Regardless, thriftiness is the order of the day: the field house will be an inexpensive pre-engineered metal building, and the stadium grandstand will be a lightweight aluminum and steel bleacher system. A significant portion of the construction budget will be consumed by site improvements, including mitigation of undesirable soil conditions, relocation of buried utilities, site demolition, and new retaining walls. 

Speaking of the budget, the estimated direct construction cost is $26.7 million, which is modest given the extensive scope of the project. As of the completion of the Design Development phase, our design remains right on target. ECA recently directed us to proceed with the preparation of construction documents. If the organization’s fundraising efforts are successful, everyone’s hope is to see groundbreaking occur late this coming summer. If you can, do not hesitate to contribute to ECA’s campaign. Doing so will help keep the project on track. 

Jeff Kovel (left) and Jamin AAsum (seated) of Skylab Architecture, and Matt Scheibe of Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture & Planning during a Civic Park design charrette at Skylab's office in Portland.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other members of the large and talented project team working hard to make Civic Park a reality. These include Chambers Construction, the venerable Eugene builder performing the role of Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC). The team also includes Carole Knapel of Knapel + Associates, who is serving as ECA’s project management consultant. As with any undertaking of this size, the entire roster of project participants is long and broad in its scope: 
  • Executive Architect:  Robertson/Sherwood/Architects pc
  • Design Architect:  Skylab Architecture
  • Landscape Architect:  Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture & Planning
  • Civil Engineer:  KPFF Consulting Engineers
  • Structural Engineer:  KPFF Consulting Engineers
  • Sports Facilities Design Consultant:  SportsPLAN Studio 
  • Planning Consultant: TBG Architects & Planners
  • Transportation Engineer:  Clemow & Associates 
  • Construction Manager/General Contractor:  Chambers Construction
  • Plumbing Design-Build Contractor:  Brothers Plumbing, Inc. 
  • HVAC Design-Build Contractor:  Comfort Flow Heating & Air Conditioning
  • Electrical Design-Build Contractor:  New Way Electric, Inc. 
  • Owner’s Project Manager:  Knapel + Associates 
Notably, the people of Eugene came together and built Civic Stadium during the Great Depression. There is no reason today why our community cannot rise again and extend its legacy by building Civic Park. Rising from the ashes, the new facility will create lifelong memories for everyone, particularly for kids who may never have known Civic Stadium. I’m truly honored to be involved with a project of such community significance.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

eBuild Training Sessions

 
The eBuild Permit System is the City of Eugene's online building permit application system. The system went live in January 2015 and according to city officials has been a rousing success. During the past year alone, the Building Division issued more than 3,200 permits through eBuild. Many customers recognize the advantage of saving trips to the Permit Center and reducing costs associated with printing multiple sets of construction drawings for review. For these and other reasons, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the new system. 
 
Using eBuild, you can:
  • Apply for building permits online.
  • Apply for demolition permits online.
  • Apply for trade permits, such as electrical, plumbing or residential mechanical, online.
  • Apply for multiple residential trade permits using a single application.
  • Submit plans for review electronically.
  • Pay fees associated with your project online.
  • Download your approved plans.
To further improve the plan review process and provide an efficient method for archiving of data, effective March 1, 2017 the City of Eugene will require submission of all commercial and multi-family building permit submittals through eBuild. If you have questions about the new requirement, please feel free to contact Kyle Richardson, Permit Review Manager at 541-682-5534. 

The Building Division is providing opportunities to learn more about eBuild and ask questions about the process of using the system. No pre-registration is required for the training. The upcoming training sessions, all of which will occur in the Sloat Room of the Atrium Building at 99 W. 10th Avenue in downtown Eugene, will take place at the times listed below. 

Using eBuild presents several advantages beyond merely saving trees and visits to the Permit Center. All business transactions associated with the building permit process can be accomplished 24/7 using one login credential (submitting, paying fees, scheduling inspections). Information about the status of an application is just a few mouse clicks away: team members always have access to the most current version of the approved drawings—even if the need to view drawings is from their office instead of the job site. eBuild standardizes and systematizes information management, and ensures the best possible communication between city staff and applicants. Replacing the paper-based plan review process with an electronic-based alternative is key to maintaining efficiencies and keeping pace with technology. 

Speaking of keeping pace with technology, I envision eBuild as merely the first step toward ever more sophisticated and efficient plan review processes in a not-to-distant future. With the increasingly universal application of BIM, I predict artificial intelligence will become relied upon to automatically perform comprehensive initial reviews of data-rich electronic building models. I for one welcome our new computer overlords if it means their arrival frees plans examiners and building officials to work creatively with applicants in developing solutions to challenging code problems, using the innate skills only humans possess. 

What:  eBuild Training Sessions 

When:
  • Thursday, January 26, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
  • Thursday, February 16, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
  • Thursday, March 16, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Where: Sloat Room, Atrium Building, 99 W. 10th Avenue, downtown Eugene 

Cost: Free