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Architect Stafford, Morin, and Longwood
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Location Eugene, Oregon   map
Date 1960 to 1964   timeline
Building Type city hall, government offices, council chamber
 Construction System site-cast reinforced concrete, wood screen facades
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style modern
Notes Dignified yet purposefully anti-momental city hall with beautiful courtyard garden around central council chamber.
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Discussion Eugene City Hall Commentary

"The result of a design competition, the building houses most city offices as well as [originally] the police and fire departments on a plaza above a parking level. The council chambers, seating 160, symbolically occupies the center of the plaza whle the various offices surround the edge along a covered walk."

— from Style and Vernacular: a guide to the architecture of Lane County, Oregon. p28.

"Otto Poticha, one of Eugene's best known and opinionated architects, knows what he would do about City Hall: renovate it.

"The aging building should be preserved and remodeled, not torn down and built from the ground up, Poticha told the City Club of Eugene on Friday.

"With its unpretentious look and courtyard design, the building "has a warm, friendly and inviting atmosphere," he said.

"Our City Hall is a very special and unique architectural achievement," Poticha said. "It is unique in the world as a city hall."

— Edward Russo, , Register-Guard, 2005.0917

"[Competition juror] Francis Joseph McCarthy, of San Francisco, observed that public competitions were once as common in the United States as they are in other nations. But in recent years, he said, there have been few competitions to to select architects for public buildings 'because they are nice political plums.' ...

"'We're trying to find something more than just a building', declared McCarthy. 'We want something with distinction because the city is going to have it for a long, long time to come. A business can sell out and move. But a public building constructed with public funds is going to be there for a long time.'" ...

"McCarthy said the 'whole success' of the civic center depends on eliminating the [Osburn] hotel so an open area can be extended from the courthouse to the city hall, along Eighth Avenue. He suggested it would be desirable to also acquire the two half blocks along the south side of Eighth Avenue from the present county park to a mid-point between Pearl and High."

— "New City Hall Design Contest a Credit to Eugene, Judges Say", Dan Wyant, Eugene Register-Guard, November 13, 1960. discussion, first page of section C.

Wood screen facades, originally stained to a dark color evoking fir bark, speak to timber industry regional heritage.

The Creator's Words

Bits excerpted from a transcript of a competition design sessions, courtesy of architects:

JES: Should recognize civic center already developed, accent axis...
While JL played with blocks and Zach cut out paper and cardboard, Lloyd reported his inspection of trees on site... They should be saved if possible...
Council Chamber should be important, make much of City Council because it represents Democratic Spirit. Set it up so people can be easily seen and heard...
Zach suggests keeping council chambers elevated, up, separated from the "plaza" level, with open space under it. Perhaps round, with round open space below that could have sliding walls to enclose it if necessary. Maybe float it in a water garden? ...

Details

Address: 777 Pearl Street, Eugene, Oregon

Builder: Gale M. Roberts Co.

Original 1960 winning competition team included:
Landscape Architect, Lloyd M. Bond
Mechanical Engineer, Bob Marques
Structural Engineer, W. W. Wilson
Sculptor, Jan Zach (who also created sculpture for the actual building)

The two-stage design competition, with 25 first stage entries narrowed to four finalists, and with entries kept anonymous throughout, was juried by Paul Hayden Kirk, FAIA, (Seattle); Francis Joseph McCarthy, FAIA, (San Francisco); Robert B. Price, AIA, (Tacoma); Catherine Lauris, Eugene Councilwoman; Edwin Cone, Mayor of Eugene. Dean Walter Gordon of the Univeristy of Oregon School of Architecture served as professional advisor.

"In 1965, the Civic Center won a national citation for excellence in community architecture from the Southwest Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects."
— (PDF)

Resources
Sources on Eugene City Hall

"", by Alan Pittman, Eugene Weekly, Vol XXV, No. 33, August 17, 2006, cover and p13.

Style and Vernacular: a guide to the architecture of Lane County, Oregon. Western Imprints, 1983. NA730.072L368. 83-8019. 720'.9795'31. ISBN 0-087595-085-x.

Architectural Record, April 1961. renderings and discussion of winning entry and other finalists, p32-3 (western section).

Architectural Forum, May 1961. model photo and discussion, p54.

Progressive Architecture, May 1961. model photo and discussion, p53.

"Eugene Architecture Firm Wins Design Competition for City Hall", Dan Wyant, Eugene Register-Guard, March 1, 1961. model photo and discussion, p1 and p16A.

Kevin Matthews. Photographs in the collection.

 


 

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