Sunday, March 14, 2010

Architecture and Civic Engagement

The "Sears Pit" in downtown Eugene, soon to be replaced (we hope) with a new mixed-use complex including Lane Community College's downtown campus and student housing

The AIA-SWO Past Presidents turned out in force last Thursday at Davis’ Restaurant for a lively discussion with Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz. They gathered to share their ideas, visions, dreams, and frustrations about the development, or lack thereof, of Eugene’s downtown, as well as the future possibilities of the Eugene Water & Electric Board site, the Courthouse District, Riverfront Research Park, and points further up river through Glenwood. In turn, Jon asked the Past Presidents the following question: What would it take to make each of these areas a special part of Eugene? There was no shortage of ideas and references to other successful examples. There is also no shortage of future development sites.

So in response to Jon Ruiz’s question, what did the Past Presidents think it would take to improve our city’s urban environment? Responses noted were:
  • Improve cooperation among city council members
  • Rebuild trust between developers and the general public
  • Focus on at least one winning (winnable?) project
  • Build on the momentum that would be generated by successful development of a new Lane Community College Downtown Center (1)
  • Fill the pits
  • Leverage small amounts of public money for large amounts of developer investment
  • Improve the physical connection between the University and Downtown Eugene
  • Get to the river
  • Look for a visionary leader in the new planning director (Susan Muir is leaving Eugene to become the City Administrator for Mount Angel)
It bodes well for the future of our community that the City of Eugene’s top administrator seeks input and leadership from local design professionals. This is the second time since Jon assumed the role of City Manager in 2008 that he has met with the AIA-SWO Past Presidents. We need to nurture and sustain our relationship with the City at its highest levels if we wish to influence and help shape its future.

The Past Presidents thanked Jon for asking for taking the time to meet with the group again. He also thanked those he met with for their time, and to contact him if AIA-SWO has additional ideas to share. We’re certain to do that.

(1) I hope to blog about this project in detail in the near future. My firm, Robertson/Sherwood/Architects, along with the SRG Partnership of Portland, recently completed a conceptual design for the new LCC Downtown Center.

1 comment:

Centennial College said...

Fully agreed with this post as it shows the importance of water and electricity.Architecture is not only the science of building but also it needs the help of electricity and water supply.These all should go hand in hand,supporting each other fully.
Thanks
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