Thursday, May 22, 2008

May AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

For our May chapter meeting, members who attended got two excellent presentations for the price of one:

Our first speaker was Ilene Aleshire, Business Editor for the Eugene Register-Guard. Ilene was on hand to present Blue Chip, the new monthly publication for business in Lane County. She discussed her hopes for Blue Chip and the niche it will fill, and why our members might find it important to read. As architects, we are interested in ensuring that the importance of good design is promoted, and a publication that is targeted to all business people can be a medium for conveying that message.

Ilene hopes to hear from AIA-SWO firms about what we’re doing in the future. Blue Chip offers us the opportunity to get the word out about our work to members of the larger business community, who are among our potential clients. She acknowledged that the Register-Guard can do a better job of including architects in its building coverage, particularly for high profile projects that will be visible to the public. All of us look forward to the opportunities that will be available through the Register-Guard and Blue Chip to promote the value of architectural design excellence as our community grows and matures.

If you have ideas, comments or story tips for Blue Chip, contact Ilene by phone, e-mail, or snail mail as follows:

Phone: (541) 338-2377
Mail: Ilene Aleshire, Blue Chip
3500 Chad Drive, Eugene, OR 97408

Our evening’s second speaker was Tod Schneider of the Eugene Police Department, who discussed how Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles could be applied in downtown Eugene to reinforce positive behavior and create naturally safe and welcoming built environments. These principles include natural surveillance ("see and be seen"), natural access control, territorial reinforcement, and target hardening, all of which can be achieved via architecturally pleasing and non-threatening ways.
Tod began his talk by presenting examples of how over the years unfortunate design decisions in downtown Eugene have encouraged such problems as vandalism, theft, drug dealing, and physical violence. Broadway between Oak Street and Charnelton Street, which is a nexus for much of the negative behavior, not only has many vacant storefronts but also a surprising number of deeply recessed, dark entrances to the buildings. These “caves” are perceived as possible hiding places for wrong-doers, be they drug-dealers or possible muggers. The absence of tenants in many ground floor spaces, or the inwardly-focused or bunker-like appearance of some of the occupied storefronts means that “eyes on the street” are few. There is also the “broken windows syndrome.” Unless broken windows, graffiti, or other vandalism are dealt with promptly, their appearance begets more and more of the same.

Regardless of architectural strategies, the most effective panacea for downtown is to achieve a critical mass for the downtown population, 24/7. This means more housing, and more retail and other businesses downtown.

Big thanks to both Ilene and Tod for joining us and offering their informative talks.

Once again, we conducted the drawing for our monthly chapter meeting raffle prize, which is a $50.00 gift certificate courtesy of Down to Earth Home Garden & Gifts store. This month’s lucky winner was Lana Sadler, Associate AIA, of Robertson/Sherwood/Architects. Remember, your first raffle ticket is free with your paid dinner and additional tickets are only $2 each. However, you can’t win if you don’t attend, so join us at our next meeting!

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