Saturday, September 6, 2008

AIA-SWO Chapter Program Change

The October AIA-SWO chapter meeting program was originally scheduled to be a discussion about the Eugene riverfront and more specifically, the Eugene Water & Electric Board property that will be redeveloped once EWEB’s new facilities in west Eugene are completed. However, our chapter is presently working on plans with both EWEB and the City of Eugene to jointly conduct a public design charette early in 2009 that will factor prominently in how a new riverfront district might take shape. For this reason, we will defer this subject for a chapter meeting that will occur sometime shortly after the results of the charette are available for review. Instead, I’m pleased to announce that October’s meeting (10/15/08) will feature a presentation by City of Eugene planners Terri Harding and Patricia Thomas about the City’s Infill Compatibility Standards (ICS) and Opportunity Siting (OS) projects.

The purpose of the ICS and OS projects can be generally described as protecting existing neighborhood character while integrating infill development in a way that fosters a sense of community. OS specifically focuses on identifying sites and outlining the design parameters for infill multiple-family housing. Both projects were initiated by City Council to address concerns raised by residents about the kind of development occurring in their neighborhoods. These have become high profile projects with the Planning Commission and recommendations will be going forward to the Commission and the City Council in the next several months.

Two task teams have been at work since late last year to define these projects and propose solutions to what residents find to be ugly or invasive infill development that have negative impacts on existing neighborhoods. Toward that end, the ICS task team is working on identifying characteristics that define each neighborhood and the aspects of new development that have had a deleterious effect. The OS task team has been developing a process to work with neighborhoods to identify appropriate sites for denser development and a methodology to assure that developments are better designed to fit well into existing neighborhoods.

Why present this to our membership? AIA-SWO members will be interested in the integration of urban design issues into a conversation that involves residents and businesses and affects developers and their architects. The OS and ICS task teams and City staff welcome a discussion with AIA-SWO members to learn from architects' perspectives on these issues and ideas for solutions while the projects are in early-enough phases to benefit from the input.

Check out the following web links for more information about the Infill Compatibility Standards and Opportunity Siting projects:

While October’s program may be changing, this month’s program remains the same. Don’t miss our special Craftsmanship & People’s Choice Awards Gala on September 17th at Gerlinger Hall on the University of Oregon campus. Every few years, the AIA-SWO honors those builders who have contributed through their efforts to the realization of projects that exhibit an outstanding level craftsmanship or have otherwise have helped mightily to produce highly successful built spaces. The award winners are selected from among candidates nominated by AIA-SWO members. Mark your calendars for this very special event, which will also feature the announcement of the annual People’s Choice Design Awards winning projects. See you there!

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