Mark Young's illustrations and Nicola Fucigna's article on Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities featured in Construction Literary Magazine

Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities has captured the imagination of many architects, including RB’s Mark Young and Nicola Fucigna. When Mark was studying abroad in Copenhagen as an undergrad, he illustrated all 55 cities. A collection of these illustrations are featured in Construction, a quarterly online literary magazine, where Nicola runs an architecture column on the poetics of real and imagined spaces. For the Fall 2018 issue, Nicola contributed an essay illustrated by Mark: "Lessons for Architects in Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities."  

Spotlight on Eureka Veterans and Homeless Housing in Lost Coast Outpost

Article in the Local Coast Outpost

Eureka Committee Approves Design for New Three-Story, 50,000 Square-Foot Low-Income Housing Complex on Fourth Street

By Stephanie McGeary
Local Coast Outpost
September 12, 2018

View from 4th and B Streets.

Today the Eureka Design Review Committee approved plans for development of an apartment complex on the corner of Fourth Street between B and C Streets in Eureka, intended to house veterans and people at risk of homelessness.

“We’re just trying to help the community, help the people on the streets and give them a leg up,” Development company Danco CommunitiesPresident Chris Dart told the Outpost.

The approximately 50,000 square foot, three story building will contain 50 one-bedroom apartments. Half of the units will be designated for veterans and the other half will be for the general population, Dart told the Outpost. But all tenants need to be homeless or at risk of homelessness, he said.

Map of the project location.

The project is not only intend to provide both temporary and long-term housing for those in need, but also will include social services provided by the Veteran’s Resource Center and Humboldt County Health and Human Services. Services will include food, post-traumatic stress syndrome recovery counseling, life-skills coaching, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and more.

The building includes some other impressive features, such as a large communal kitchen, a rooftop garden, a courtyard garden with an internal bike storage and solar panels. According to the staff report, the building is designed to be “net-zero,” meaning that it produces as much energy as it consumes.

View of the courtyard looking east.

Eureka Development Services Director Rob Holmlund said the city is excited about this project, which he sees as not only providing a much needed service, but will be an aesthetic improvement on the area as well.

“It’s a really well-designed building,” Holmlund told the Outpost. “It will be an amazing new prominent structure.”

With the approval of the Design Review Committee in hand, Holmlund said, all the developers really have left to do is apply for the building permits.

Dart is excited to complete this project, which has been in the works since 2015. He said the developers expect to break ground by January 2019 and is estimating the construction to take about 12 months.

View of entry from 4th Street.

Tykeson Hall's Crane Featured in the Daily Emerald

(Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

Article in the Daily Emerald

Meet UO’s campus crane operator

By Zach Prince
The Daily Emerald
July 30, 2018

Perched far above the claustrophobic PLC offices, looming over the infamous steps of Johnson Hall, sits a 172 EC-B Liebherr tower crane. Standing at more than 200 feet in the air, the view from the crane’s cab might be one of the best in town. On a clear day, one can see everything from Eugene’s east hills and Hendricks Park to the city’s tallest building, the Ya-Po-Ah Terrace.

Sitting atop the swaying beast is Ray McArthur, who is tasked with operating the crane for Nesscampbell, a Northwest-based crane and rigging company. McArthur, 63, has worked as a crane operator for more than 30 years and operated cranes for numerous construction projects on both the University of Oregon and Oregon State University’s campuses. 

  In Eugene, Ray McArthur operated cranes for the construction of Matthew Knight Arena, the EMU’s renovation, student housing, Autzen Stadium’s renovation, the Casanova extension, The Rec and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

In Eugene, Ray McArthur operated cranes for the construction of Matthew Knight Arena, the EMU’s renovation, student housing, Autzen Stadium’s renovation, the Casanova extension, The Rec and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

In Eugene, McArthur operated cranes for the construction of Matthew Knight Arena, the EMU’s renovation, student housing, Autzen Stadium’s renovation, the Casanova extension, The Rec and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. He also worked on multiples projects at OSU including Reser Stadium and a science building. He is currently working on the Tykeson Hall construction project, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

McArthur, who lives in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, is a seasoned tower crane operator who portrays a surprising amount of calmness despite using such heavy machinery. But that wasn’t always the case.

“I used to seriously have to sit with two rags on my legs,” McArthur said. “I’d rub my hands on them just ‘cause I’d sweat that much.”

McArthur worked as a laborer in the construction industry for 10 years before he became involved in operating heavy machinery. He first started out operating boom trucks, then hydro cranes and continued to move into working with larger equipment as time went on. The first time he operated a crane was when a construction site superintendent asked if he would cover for the site’s tower operator, who had gone on vacation for the week.

“[The superintendent’s] operator in Portland was going to go deer hunting or something, so he wanted to know if I would cover for him,” McArthur said. “I had never been in a tower crane before so I said ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it.’”

There was no required training or necessary qualifications for operating tower cranes when McArthur first began operating in the 1980s. Now there is a five-year apprenticeship required to break into the profession.

On his first job, the site superintendent promised McArthur a week-long training session from the regular operator. After not finding time to go up in the crane on either Monday or Tuesday, the two finally made it up on Wednesday for a two-hour training session. The operator then told McArthur they would pick up where they left off the next morning, but that isn’t how it happened.

“Thursday morning, I’m waiting for the operator to show up to give me some more instruction,” McArthur said. “So I’m looking around, looking around and the son of a gun never came back in. Two hours of training and then the thing was in my lap. Talk about being scared.”

McArthur was thrown into the fire on his first crane operating job, but even after two decades of experience, he still considers his profession stressful.

“It gets pretty intense sometimes,” McArthur said. “I didn’t have grey hair before I started this job.”

The level of stress McArthur regularly experiences depends on factors such as the weather conditions, how much work there is and what type of work needs to be completed.

McArthur says the best way to avoid those stressful situations is good communication. Groundworkers communicate with the crane operator by using a combination of radio messages and hand signals. On large construction sites, operators work with a bellman who serves as eyes on the ground, but for smaller sites such as Tykeson Hall, McArthur is on his own.

In order to work safely and effectively, operators must build a trust with the workers on the ground, McArthur said. This is especially true when the crane is operating in a blind spot that McArthur can’t see.

“If I can see it, I don’t sweat it,” McArthur said, “but if I can’t see it, if I’m picking stuff out of the basement or way over there where I can’t see, then those guys are running the crane, basically. I’m just doing what they tell me to do.”

Luckily, McArthur knows most of the other workers on the Tykeson Hall site, which gives him insight on who to trust and who to keep a closer eye on.

McArthur thought that Tykeson Hall would be his last job before retirement, but he’s a motorhead and couldn’t resist making an investment in a classic Chevy Nova last fall. Instead of retiring, he will operate the tower crane for the Knight Science Campus construction project, which broke ground in March 2018.

But for McArthur, delaying his retirement plans isn’t such a bad thing. Despite the stress that can come with being a crane operator, he truly loves the work he has made a career out of.

“I like the guys I work with. I like the challenge because every day is a challenge,” McArthur said. “Every day is something different. It’s not the same thing every day.”

For the full photo gallery, see "Photos: Climbing the campus crane" by Sarah Northrop.

Eugene River District Rendering featured in Register-Guard


Article in the Register-Guard

Eugene residents want mix of natural, urban features in Willamette riverfront park

By Ed Russo
The Register-Guard
June 4, 2018

Eugene residents want a mix of urban and natural features in the planned Willamette riverfront park on the east edge of downtown.

City officials are soliciting ideas from the public to help create the park on a narrow stretch of the former Eugene Water & Electric Board utility yard next to the river. The 3-acre park, across the Willamette River from Alton Baker Park, is a key piece in the city’s plan to redevelop 16 acres of former EWEB property into a vibrant urban area.

About 100 people attended a meeting on May 24 to share their views on what they want to see in the park. Residents spoke with landscape architects from Walker Macy, the Portland firm hired by the city to develop a design concept by September. An online survey, taken by more than 700 people, also is being used to gather public opinion. The survey is open until June 14.

Presently, the only public access to the property is a bike path that runs along the steep, tree-and-brush-covered edge of the riverbank, about a dozen feet above the river.

EWEB earlier had agreed to donate the 3-acre property for the park, and the city agreed to spend at least $3 million to develop it. EWEB, a publicly owned utility, has agreed to pay $250,000 to the city for maintenance of the park.

Emily Proudfoot, the city’s manager for the park project, said residents want the park to be developed so they can “see and connect with the Willamette River in ways that they can’t do now.”

To do that, most people have said they want the park to include a combination of urban and natural features.

“Respondents are saying that they want an active, safe and fun place to bring their families and kids, and to include public art and history as important aspects of the design,” Proudfoot said. “In general, we are reaffirming that the community wants an urban riverfront park in downtown Eugene.”

The city plans to hold a meeting on July 19 for residents to comment on designs developed by Walker Macy. A final concept is expected to be finished by Sept. 27.

Meanwhile, two public events this month will gather public opinion about the city’s plans to develop much of the 16-acre property, which it purchased last month from EWEB for $5.7 million.

Last week, city officials said they have agreed to terms with Portland-based Williams/Dame & Associates to redevelop about half of the former utility yard.

Under the proposed deal, Williams/Dame would pay about $2.7 million for the unimproved land and commit to build 215 apartments, 70 townhouses and a 125-room hotel on it. The city would lease to Williams/Dame two parcels for 14,000 square feet of commercial space and a restaurant.

The other half of the former EWEB property would be developed for an affordable housing project, streets, a public plaza and other uses.

On June 20, Williams/Dame representatives will share their ideas with the public in an open house in EWEB’s north headquarters building.

On June 25, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the city’s proposed redevelopment agreement with Dame/Williams.

Separately, the city is seeking a buyer to redevelop the vacant steam plant, which Williams/Dame did not want to buy.

Williams/Dame led the redevelopment of the Pearl and South Waterfront Districts in Portland, as well as a neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles. The design team for the Eugene property includes SERA Architects of Portland, which designed the Tate condominiums near West 13th Avenue and Olive Street, and the renovation of the Erb Memorial Union at the University of Oregon.

What’s next

Two public meetings will be held in June to provide information and get comments on plans to redevelop the former Eugene Water & Electric Board property along the Willamette River.

June 20: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Williams/Dame and city staff will present information at an open house at EWEB’s north headquarters community room, 500 E. Fourth Ave.

June 25: 7:30 p.m. Public hearing before City Council, acting as Urban Renewal Agency, in Harris Hall, 125 E. Eighth Ave., on proposed development agreement with Williams/Dame.

For information:

Market District Townhomes featured in Register-Guard

Article in the Register-Guard

By Elon Glucklich
The Register-Guard
March 18, 2018

At the southern base of Skinner Butte sits the historic Shelton-McMurphey-­Johnson House, built in the 1880s, the Ya-Po-Ah Terrace senior living tower, built in the 1960s, and an apartment complex built in the 1970s.

Now a group of local developers hopes to add a touch of modern living to the base of the butte with the first new construction around the Eugene landmark in nearly a half-century.

Eugene development consultant Mark Miksis, attorney Rick Larson and property manager Jim St. Clair have been working behind the scenes for more than two years on their Market District Townhomes project.

They plan to fit 20 townhouses on a 1.7-acre lot between the base of Skinner Butte and Shelton McMurphey Boulevard, immediately west of the 1 West Fourth apartment complex. Street work could begin later this spring, Miksis said, with construction on the first six townhouses starting soon after.

“Our goal is to start in the next several months,” he said. “It’s an amenity-rich neighborhood, close to downtown, Fifth Street Public Market, lots of dining.”

Amid Eugene’s multi-year housing boom, developers have been racing to fill out the north and west edges of the city with large single-family subdivisions.

But for projects closer to downtown, builders are increasingly targeting available land for dense apartment developments.

The townhouse project fits into a different market altogether, with units being purchased instead of leased. Eugene has hardly seen any new townhouses or condos built over the last decade.

But Miksis feels Market District Townhomes will fill an underserved niche in the city.

“It’s an opportunity to actually own a home, not like a condo where you don’t own the ground, and not an apartment,” he said. “And maybe most important is the location.”

Miksis has had his finger­prints on some major local projects in recent years, including Crescent Village in northeast Eugene, several University of Oregon-area student apartments and the ongoing renovation of the former Oregon Antique Mall building at Willamette Street and 12th Avenue downtown.

Larson, meanwhile, has been a member of limited liability companies owning the Shelton McMurphey Boulevard site dating back to 2000. But he, Miksis and St. Clair formed Skinner’s Landing LLC in February 2016, and Miksis filed planning documents with the city of Eugene outlining the Market District Townhomes project a few months later.

Miksis declined to discuss financial details about the project.

The group has tapped Eugene homebuilder Jordan Iverson to construct the first phase of the project: six two-bedroom townhouses, each between 1,400 and 1,800 square feet, with terraces facing south toward Spencer Butte.

Prices would tentatively range from $450,000 to $650,000, Iverson said. Each unit would include a one or two-car garage accessed from a new interior street extending off Shelton McMurphey Boulevard.

Construction should take seven to nine months once the street work is complete, Iverson said.

The remaining 14 units would be built in two or three subsequent phases, according to preliminary information about the project. Those plans include four three-bedrooms units of 1,500 square feet or more, plus rooftop gardens, and 10 three-bedroom units with 2,500 square feet of space at the north edge of the property, at the base of Skinner Butte.

Buildout of the future phases would be based on how quickly townhouses sell in the first phases, Miksis said, and the overall housing demand once phase one is complete.

But Miksis said it’s easy to be bullish on the growing concept of a “Market District” in the area between Skinner Butte and Sixth Avenue, largely spearheaded by Fifth Street Public Market owner Brian Obie’s plan for a $60 million expansion of the shopping center, which Obie announced this month.

The Eugene City Council, meanwhile, is discussing millions of dollars in upgrades at 10 downtown-area railroad crossings so trains wouldn’t have to repeatedly blast their horns to alert pedestrians and motorists.

Developers have long blamed the horns for depressing demand for new housing in the area.

Market District Townhomes would be built north of Fourth Avenue, near railroad tracks, several crossings and the Eugene Amtrak station.

And Miksis sees the townhouse project fitting in naturally with the proposed Eugene Water & Electric Board riverfront redevelopment, which could add hundreds of downtown apartments and 70 to 80 townhouse units, plus 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, all a half-mile east of the Market District Townhomes site.

“We have the (railroad) quiet zone being discussed, we have Obie’s project and the EWEB riverfront project — this location keeps improving,” Miksis said. “So this is an opportunity to offer this type of housing in an area where there’s just a lot happening.”

Frank Visconti Bringing New York to Eugene

Article in the Eugene Weekly

By Bob Keefer
Eugene Weekly
March 8, 2018

Urban Delight: A New York architect sees Eugene with fresh eyes

Writing sometime around the year 30 B.C., the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio — Vitruvius, to his friends — laid out, in his foundational work De Architectura, three principles that should inform all architecture: firmitasutilitasand venustas.

More than 2,000 years later, Eugene architect Frank Visconti translates those Latin terms as “firmness,” meaning that a building is structurally sound; “commodity,” meaning that it’s functional; and “delight.”

“That’s the joy that one gets out of it,” Visconti says.

Visconti, who works at Rowell Brokaw Architects in Eugene, came here two and a half years ago from New York City, drawn by that Vitruvian factor he found here in Oregon.

“I am a New Yorker in every sense of the word,” he says. “And I think Eugene is very delightful. It has all the elements of an urban experience, but on such a tiny scale — 160,000 people versus 11 million. Everything here is only 15 minutes away.”

I called Visconti to ask him a couple questions about design in general and about the quality of architecture he sees in Eugene.

Is design generally appreciated by the public? I wanted to know.

To my surprise, he says “yes.”

“I do think it’s appreciated on many levels,” he says. “Some of them might be more subversive or more obvious.”

On the largest scale, he says, architecture defines the entire urban experience. “It influences the amount of sunlight that comes into the streets and the open spaces,” he says. “It has to do with the quality of materials. And it has been important since the built environment was conceived as a bigger idea.”

On a smaller scale, he says, architecture influences what you see out your bedroom window. “You want light and air,” he says. “You want the window facing a certain direction. Something as simple as orientation to the sun is important to design.”

The killer question: Is Eugene ugly, as so many critics claim?

“I find it a vibrant place,” he says. “Though there’s certainly lots of potential.”

Visconti expanded on that idea in an interesting direction.

Eugene has long lived with the legacy of 1970s redevelopment, in which many older downtown buildings were demolished to make way for what would ultimately be a failed pedestrian mall.

In most accounts, that was an architectural disaster, replacing the elegance of history with the prefab look of more-modern buildings. Not so for Visconti.

Eugene, he says, “is a time capsule of the ’70s in some ways. It’s very clean and well taken care of. It’s a slice of time rooted in 30 or 40 years ago.”

More broadly, he describes Eugene as embracing a style that might be called “optimistic modern.”

“It’s a start-up city,” he says, and then mentions the best-selling 1989 computer game SimCity, in which the player controls the development of a virtual city. “Eugene is the early stage of a Sim city.”

The city does have potential yet unrealized.

“It has a vibrancy that’s rooted in Broadway and Willamette Street and the Hult Center,” he says. “And it has the Whit — a fantastic neighborhood, a classic bohemian edgy part of town where there is a lot of culture and personal expression.”

The biggest issue that needs solving, he says, is housing.

“The city should do whatever it can to promote more market-rate and affordable housing so that more people live downtown.” 

Register-Guard Article on The Female Entrepreneurs in 1203 Willamette

Article in the Register-Guard

By Ed Russo
The Register-Guard
March 5, 2018

Four women-owned businesses are about to bring life to a previously moribund part of Eugene’s signature street.

The businesses — Claim 52 Kitchen, Katie Brown clothing, Saucefly Market/Bar, and Blue Bird Flowers — are preparing to open during the next several weeks in the newly renovated building at 1203 Willamette St.

“The location on Willamette Street is ideal,” said Jeannine Parisi, co-owner of Claim 52 Brewing in Eugene, a craft brewer that is opening its first restaurant/taproom combination. “We are part of a project that will wake this whole block up.”

The building makeover is the latest in a series of downtown improvement projects that began with the 2010-11 renovation of the former Centre Court Building, now Broadway Commerce Center, at Broadway and Willamette Street. Since then, more than two dozen buildings in the city center have been built or renovated, according to Denny Braud, executive director of Eugene’s planning and development department.

The 36,000-square-foot Willamette Street structure, east of the massive 13th and Olive student apartment complex, is composed of two identical adjacent two-story buildings constructed during the 1940s for Lyons Furniture.

It had been used by Oregon Antique Mall for 25 years until it was emptied and purchased in 2017 for $2 million by a group of investors, including architects John Rowell and Greg Brokaw, downtown espresso shop owner Kaz Oveissi and development consultant Mark Miksis.

After the $4 million, nearly year-long renovation designed by Rowell Brokaw Architects, the structure has been dramatically changed. Its plain, graffiti-marred concrete and metal facade has been replaced with Douglas fir siding, black metal awnings and large windows that roll up like garage doors. A cantilevered roof that was made from Douglas fir boards salvaged in the renovation extends from the roof line.

Inside, false ceilings have been removed to reveal wooden beams.

After years of being covered by carpets, the original Douglas fir floors are being refinished to show their previous beauty.

The building is connected to the high-speed fiber network that was installed by the Eugene Water & Electric Board as part of a city-funded initiative.

The building is almost fully leased, though all of the tenants are in various stages of finishing their spaces and not yet moved in.

Rowell Brokaw will move a short distance from its present offices at East Broadway and Willamette Street and occupy a second-floor space. Watkinson Laird Rubenstein, a law firm, will move from East Broadway and Oak Street to occupy the other half of the second floor.

Trifoia, formerly Iris Education Media, plans to relocate from a building on East 10th Avenue, and lease about 4,000 square feet on the first floor.

The company’s 25 employees are eager to work in the mainly open office on a single floor, compared to their current mostly separate offices on two floors, said Galen Mittermann, director of finance, sales and marketing.

Trifoia produces research-based, mostly online training programs for educators and parents.

The firm’s new offices will help Trifoia attract new employees, Mittermann said. “We have seen this building sit vacant for awhile,” he said. The remodeling “makes it easier for us to attract talent, being in a fresh, new space and part of our downtown revitalization.”

But the women-owned businesses will be most visible to the public, occupying four of the five ground-floor retail spaces in the front of the building along Willamette Street. The fifth space has yet to be leased.

The $4 million renovation figure includes the landlord’s contribution to finishing the interior of leased spaces, but the tenants also are paying for improvements and equipment.

Here’s a rundown on the four signed tenants.

Claim 52 Kitchen

The craft brewer’s first brewpub with a kitchen and its own food service will occupy about 3,000 square feet and have seating for up to 125 people inside and another 35 outside during warmer months.

Claim 52 Brewing first started making beer six years ago in West Eugene, off Tyinn Street. In 2014, Claim 52 opened a small tap room, The Abbey, in the Sprout! Regional Food Hub, in downtown Springfield.

Neither outlet provides food to customers. The Abbey patrons can buy food from eateries elsewhere in the renovated former church and have it brought to them in the taproom. Customers at Claim 52 Brewing in West Eugene can buy from food trucks parked outside or bring their own.

“We understand the importance of having food with beer, of providing the balance,” Claim 52 co-owner Mercy McDonald said. “We see the difference (with food). Customers stay.”

Claim 52 Kitchen will have 15 taps, dispensing a variety of Claim 52 brews, including its best selling Fluffy IPA, plus wines, cider and kombucha from other providers on another nine taps.

The brewpub will operate similar to The Beer Stein, the popular bar and restaurant three blocks south on Willamette Street. Customers will order food and drink at a bar, and have their food delivered to them.

Lannon Cling, a South Eugene High School graduate who was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, is in charge of food.

“It’s going to be fun and approachable pub food, with an eye on creativity,” said Cling, who last operated The Dumpling Group food truck in Eugene. “I’m going to take what I have learned about pub food and apply what I know about fine dining to it.”

The planned menu has appetizers, such as garlic yucca tots; sandwiches, including “Croque Norvegien,” lox, emmental cheese on toasted brioche; and large plates,” such as chicken curry dumplings and different seasoned fried chicken drumsticks.

“We are going to do sandwiches, burgers and fries, all the usual suspects,” he said. “But everything will have a unique twist. Nothing will be boring.”

Customers will order beer and other beverages off a theater-style sign above the bar. Claim 52’s logo, created by Ali McQueen of Eugene, is featured on a wall mural painted by artist Justin Boggs, a UO graduate and Portland resident.

The logo has stylized images of the forest-covered south hills and Spencer Butte, plus the sun and moon, painted in shades of orange, blue, gray and black.

Claim 52 Kitchen is expected to open sometime in April.

Katie Brown

Katie Brown of Eugene sells her line of women’s clothing through a website, Katie Brown LA, and a Portland boutique, Adorn.

This month, Brown plans to open her own store — a 500-square-foot shop — in the renovated Willamette Street building.

A former restaurateur, Brown co-founded such Eugene restaurants as Red Agave, El Vaquero, Asado Grill and Asado Bistro. Brown started the restaurants with Sara Willis, who is opening Saucefly Market/Bar in a nearby retail space.

Brown said she’s looking forward to interacting with customers in her store.

“I so love the experience of having a physical location to come to and to create an in-person experience for (shoppers),” she said. “I missed that from the restaurant chapter of my life.”

Brown’s clothes are made in Los Angeles from sustainably sourced materials. She calls her dresses, skirts, tops and leggings “comfortable clothes that you feel great in.”

Her store, Katie Brown, will sell women’s clothes and accessories from other brands, too, plus men’s clothing from Save Khaki.

“I tested it on my 18-year-old son and he became addicted to the pieces,” Brown said. “I feel very comfortable that it’s going to be loved.”

Like the building’s other tenants, Brown had to wait for the renovation before she could start finishing the interior of her store.

She’s eager to open as soon as possible.

“It has been pushed back so many times before,” she said. “I have the merchandise and I am ready to go. I am very much looking forward to see it coming to life.”

Saucefly Market/Bar

Veteran Eugene restaurateur Sara Willis plans to feed as many people as possible from two places in the building.

The retail portion of Saucefly Market/Bar will be a 500-square-foot shop with seating for about 20 people, plus outside tables and chairs during warmer months.

Her retail outlet facing Willamette Street will be a combination restaurant and to-go food market.

The business will open in the morning, in time for downtown workers to buy coffee, fresh fruit, granola, freshly made banana bread and other items.

For lunch and dinner, customers will be able to buy hot items, including enchiladas, as well as sandwiches, salads and soups.

Willis also is leasing an 800-square-foot room in the back of the building. About half of that room will be occupied by a kitchen, where she will prepare the food for sale in the upfront retail space.

Willis will use the other half of the space as a dining room for private events and “pop-up dinners” for up to two dozen people.

In a pop-up dinner, customers who regularly get information about Willis’ latest culinary offerings through text messages or Instagram, will get notifications that later in the day she will serve specified items and drinks during a certain time.

For example, she might serve tacos and $5 beers from 8 p.m. until midnight, she said.

“I think it’s fun if people can handle it,” Willis said. “I hope I will have enough people who will be interested in that. I think I do.”

During the past 16 years, Willis has helped start such restaurants as Red Agave, El Vaquero, Asado and Carmelita Spats.

Willis is counting on carry-out items to appeal to downtown employees, including office workers elsewhere in the building, who may want to grab a lunch or something for dinner on the way home.

“You will be able to pick up fresh organic tortillas, some salsas, and shredded organic chicken and go home and make tacos,” she said.

Willis also hopes to attract downtown residents, including college students who live in the 13th/Olive complex across the street.

The market will sell beer, wine and spirits. Willis’ own line of mixers will be available for sale.

She said her outlet will be a similar, smaller version of Provisions, the gourmet food shop and eatery in the basement of Fifth Street Public Market.

“You will be eating within the shopping experience,” she said.

The floor of the store and backroom will be decorated with inlaid tile that Willis had made in Mexico. Willis said there’s significance to starting a business in a building at the same time as other women.

“It’s an example showing other young women entrepreneurs that they can do it,” she said.

Blue Bird Flowers

Vanessa Rover figures the time is right to start her first business doing what she likes best — working with flowers.

In April she plans to open Blue Bird Flowers, a stand in the lobby of 1203 Willamette St. She hopes office workers and customers of the restaurants and retail shops in the building will buy her flowers. She will have flowers in front of the building to attract other customers.

The building is “on a pretty heavily trafficked street, and I hope that people walk by and see all the beautiful flowers outside and want them,” she said.

Blue Bird Flowers will make downtown deliveries.

Rover wants to sell arrangements made with as many flowers and plants as possible from local and Northwest growers.

“There are certain things that thrive in Oregon,” she said. “Dahlias do real well here.”

Rover has worked with flowers since she was a teenager in San Diego.

“There is not a flower that I don’t like,” she said. “I’m just drawn to them. They are beautiful and they make people feel good. You don’t have a choice when you look at a flower.”

She’s worked in dozens of flower shops in southern California and Eugene, including Rhythm & Blooms.

She’s also been a bartender for the last 15 years.

Her friend Katie Brown, who is opening a clothing store in the building, suggested that she open the flower business.

Rover has been working three jobs — two as a bartender and one as a liquor delivery person — to help pay for the business.

The 36-year-old single mom will operate the stand with her 16-year-old son, Andrew.

With her son now old enough to help her, they both decided, “Let’s take the risk together,” Rover said.

Crescent Village Featured in Community Design Handbook

As part of the Envision Eugene Comprehensive Plan, the Community Design Handbook (CDH) establishes "a broad set of non-regulatory design principles and guidelines that express the community's vision for the built environment." Crescent Village appears in a subsection of the chapter "Evoke a Sense of Place." Please Note: Though the publication specifies "draft," this document is in its final form.

The Saga of Sawdust: Creating a Wall of Sawdust for the Roseburg Forest Products Headquarters

Early in the design phase of the Roseburg Forest Products (RFP) project, Rowell Brokaw travelled with the RFP design team to the DIRTT headquarters in Calgary, Canada. Since 2003, DIRTT has been creating innovative modular wall systems. During their visit, the design team saw a glass wall full of lemons that DIRTT had created for Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Initially, they joked about making the equivalent for Roseburg Forest Products: a wall of sawdust to represent the company’s goal to have “sawdust in the veins.” But as the design for the new headquarters developed, the joke started to gain credence until the wall of sawdust became part of the design. “The more we talked about the idea,” Britni Jessup of RB recounted, “the more we realized that it represented more than an architectural feature—it represented who RFP is and a message to their employees and visitors about their history and their values.”

The design team selected DIRTT’s “Evil Twin” wall, in which one of the glass panels must mirror, despite its wishes, the other panel’s position. Everyone was worried about dust, moisture and living things becoming sealed in the wall. The wood chips came directly from the mill floor in Roseburg. “Imagine if there was a hatch within the wall,” Britni explained, “it would be hard to fix and would cause serious problems. Gordon Rea at McKenzie Commercial did a series of mock-ups to find a solution we were all comfortable with.” The following method turned out to work: dry Roseburg Forest Products’ wood chips and sawdust in an old clothes dryer, spread the dry and clean wood chips and sawdust on a plastic sheet, apply countless layers of lacquer, fill glass panels with wood chips and sawdust through a giant funnel of cardboard lined with slippery craft paper, and finally angle and ease panels up into their locking position within the wall.

The wall took days to install: it took three guys to take a panel off and mess with the sawdust height before locking it back in place. Britni created a line of blue tape to help with the heights. In the final design, the sawdust made a continuous, undulating line between six glass panels. The wall is now one of the signature features of the entry at the headquarters. Employees and visitors alike can actually see the sawdust in RFP's veins.

For more on the sawdust wall and the innovations of the DIRTT wall system, read the following article featured in officeinsight, an online magazine that focuses on workplace design and furnishings: 

Straub Hall shout-out in Oregon Quarterly

The Best...Lecture Hall on Campus

Oregon Quarterly, Spring 2016 issue
by Ross Karapondo, UO sophomore cinema studies major 

April 26, 2015, felt like winter, but the calendar assured me it was spring. Two colleagues and I had entered a competition call the Adrenaline Film Project, in which you produce a short film over the course of a weekend and have it screen and judged the following Monday. It was 2:30 a.m. when we finished shooting for the night, about three hours behind schedule, and at that point I think we were all grateful to finally be leaving that seedy Eugene back alley. My arms felt like they were going to fall off from holding the boom microphone over my head for so long, and my fingers were numb from grasping the cold metal rod to which it was attached. The only thing on my mind was sleep. Unfortunately, we were to be back on location at 7:00 a.m. that same day. Once I finally made it to bed mere hours from when I would have to wake up, I began to ask myself, "Do I even want to be a filmmaker?"

The film was to be only five minutes, but it quickly felt like it was consuming our lives. We finished shooting at about 2:00 p.m., which was relief, but there wasn't much time to celebrate; we were to be editing in the Cinema Studies computer lab by 4:00 pm. There we would spend the next 24 hours. I'm not exaggerating. 

There's a certain madness that comes with editing a movie: some shots just don't work, sometimes you have to rearrange scenes beyond recognition, and something usually goes catastrophically wrong and you're forced to redo hours of work. It's just the nature of the beast. At about 10:00 p.m., two of us had to return to the previous night's location with our lead actor to re-shoot a couple of very specific shots, only one of which we ended up using. Throughout the night, the three of us took turns editing while one would sleep. I couldn't sleep, though, not with this looming over my head. 

Once our competed film was submitted, I was physically and emotional depleted, had only gotten about five hours of sleep in the last 33 hours, and barely had any appetite even though I'd eaten very little. The question lingered---was this really what I wanted to do? At 5:00 p.m., I finally went to sleep, with the screening coming up in just a few hours. I left the door to my dorm room open so my good friend could come wake me up in case I slept through my alarm. Apparently, he had to shake me awake. I do not remember this. 

As I made my way to Straub Hall for the screening, I found myself feeling relieved that Adrenaline was coming to an end. I wondered if it was all worth it. I entered Straub and found that it felt nothing like a lecture hall, but more like an upscale theater. The modern, refurbished look coupled with the two-story seating, made me feel like I was about to present my film before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Suddenly, I felt like it was all really happening. 

The screening of the film went quickly for me, as I was so familiar with it at this point, but at the exact moment the film ended, I felt an intense sense of euphoria creep up my spine. The applause that filled the room was wonderful to hear, and, truthfully, I got a little teary-eyed. To me, this was a surreal moment: a film that I helped create had just been screened in front of a hundred people, and it actually felt like the film resonated with the audience. It was the happiest I've ever been. Right then, I knew I was a filmmaker. 

Straub Hall will forever live in my heart as the place where I met my resolve. I suffered that weekend and veered dangerously close to the brink of giving up, yet today I remember it fondly. And it's all thanks to a little lecture hall called Straub. 

Eugene City Hall featured in Open for Business mag

Downtown Eugene's revitalization efforts are discussed in the December 2015 Eugene Chamber Open for Business magazine. Projects now in design or under construction in Downtown Eugene were mentioned as current examples furthering the redevelopment goals to have a vibrant, active downtown. These projects include Eugene City Hall, Whole Foods Market, and Hilton Home2 Suites. 

Eugene River District project featured in Open for Business magazine

by Dave Hauser
feature in Open for Business
February/March 2015 issue

Aspirational thoughts for 2015

This is the time of year when economists offer their insights into the economic future. Based on what I've been reading, most predict that 2015 will continue to build on the solid economic progress established in 2014. That's good, but here at the Chamber, our focus is local. And therefore, I have pondered: What would make 2015 a great year for Eugene-Springfield? What would dramatically contribute to the growth of our regional economy and consequently enhance the livability of our region? 

Here are seven news stories I would like to read in the coming year: 

1. EWEB and the University of Oregon Foundation complete negotiations that will enable the foundation to move forward with the redevelopment in the riverfront district.

2. RAIN Eugene moves forward with the development of an entrepreneurial and innovation hub in downtown. 

3. Legislative leaders compromise on sick leave and minimum wage legislation, supporting Oregon workers while restricting burdensome local regulations that impede economic progress. 

4. Construction of the West Eugene EmX moves ahead toward a 2017 completion date, and business impacts are considered negligible. 

5. After a decade-long growth study, elected officials move ahead with modest Urban Growth Boundary expansions to increase supplies of job-producing lands. 

6. Whole Foods moves briskly toward the opening of its downtown store in March 2016, continuing the positive transformation of downtown Eugene. 

7. The Chamber and Eugene Airport construct a package of inducements to bring direct air service from San Jose, creating connections that support a burgeoning technology and start-up community. 

William Shakespeare said, "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves."

We can make 2015 a great year for our region by working together, focusing on accomplishments and making this great place even better.

Straub Hall project featured in Around the UO

Around the UO
January 22, 2015
Written by Nathaniel Brown, Public Affairs Communications

Straub Hall reopens as work continues on classrooms

The renovation of Straub Hall, which began in fall 2013, is nearing completion after its two major components — deferred maintenance and a classroom expansion — totaled out at around $44 million.

The remodel is the first major improvement on the hall since its construction in 1928.

While several new classrooms and large lecture halls won’t open until spring, faculty offices and the psychology and linguistics departments are now fully functional and open to the campus community.

The renovation was a much-needed makeover to the old building, which was originally built as a four-story dormitory and later converted into an academic building in the 1970s. Because of the age of the building and the wear and tear from its years as a dorm, several internal systems began to fail and the building did not meet current American Disability Association regulations.

“The project originated as a deferred maintenance project,” said Gene Mowery, a UO campus planning associate. With all the changes that needed to be made, however, the university faced a larger question.

“We had to decide whether to take a surgical approach or to do a complete gut and rebuild. In the end, it was more cost-effective to do the gut and rebuild,” Mowery said.

Tasked with a complete remodel of an aged building, the university wanted to preserve as much of its historic character as feasible while also meeting the fundamental academic needs of students and faculty.

“The building is important in the history of the university, so a lot of the original woodwork and tiling in the lobby remains intact or restored,” Mowery said.

The hallways and stairwells have been expanded and the entry to the building has been regraded in order to meet the various accessibility requirements of the American Disability Association.

Additionally, an energy-efficient active chilled beam heating and cooling system has been installed; special monitors in each room detect air temperature and can then adjust. Additional sensors throughout the building also measure daylight input from the windows and can regulate brightness levels accordingly through controls on dimmable light fixtures.

“We came up with some clever solutions to preserve the historic nature of the building as well as improving the heating, cooling and ventilation systems in the building to be energy-efficient,” said Christopher Ramey, associate vice president for campus planning and real estate.

Even with the significant challenge of outfitting an old building with modern systems, Straub Hall is on track to become LEED Gold-level certified because the building will be 35 percent more energy-efficient than the Oregon Energy Code requires. The Straub project joins a growing list of campus construction ventures that have earned LEED certification.

The numerous improvements also include restored restrooms for faculty and students that feature new tile and natural daylight, a 140-seat lecture hall, five additional classrooms with modern furniture and screens on each wall as well as large skylights — also dimmable — over common areas.

Perhaps the biggest change to Straub Hall will be the brand-new 520-seat lecture room, which features a seating balcony and an immense projection screen on the wall behind the stage. The classroom will be the first on campus to have two levels.

Construction on the lecture halls and classrooms is scheduled to wrap up in the coming weeks and will be open for spring term classes, allowing the next highly anticipated classroom remodel — 150 Columbia — to begin in the spring.

Eugene City Hall project featured in DJC

 The new Eugene City Hall is designed to be more attractive, in part via a new public plaza.

The new Eugene City Hall is designed to be more attractive, in part via a new public plaza.

By Inka Bajandas
Feb 11, 2015

Less off-putting, more inviting

$18 million project is under way to replace outdated Eugene City Hall

The new Eugene City Hall will include materials from its predecessor, but the look of the 1960s-era building won't be replicated.

A common thread in public feedback gathered during an extensive community outreach campaign to help shape plans to replace City Hall were complaints about the unhospitable feeling of the current building, said Kaarin Knudson, a project manager with Eugene-based Rowell Brokaw Architects. The firm is working with Seattle-based Miller Hull Partnership to design a new Eugene City Hall.

The $18 million project will replace a single-story structure and parking garage, built in 1964, that encompassed a full city block in downtown Eugene. The building wasn't easily accessible to people with disabilities, and its wooden slat facade had also long been an off-putting element to city residents, Knudson said.

"We have described this as (a) really transformative project for the city," she said. "it will change how the public interacts with City Hall. The new building will be design to be much more accessible and inviting, and provide more transparency for city government."

The project recently entered the schematic design phase, and plans are expected to be finalized by this fall. Deconstruction of the approximately 100,000-square-foot City Hall building started this past September. Plans call for replacing the structure with a four-story, approximately 30,000-square-foot building with a mezzanine that will house the Eugene City Council Chambers, offices for the city manager and mayor, and public meeting space. 

The project also includes creation of a new public plaza facing Eighth Avenue. It will expand on the nearby Park Blocks, where the Eugene Saturday Market and Lane County Farmers Market operate. 

The new City Hall will take up half of the full-block site occupied by the original building. Later development on the other half could include a six- to 1-story city office building and a new home for the Lane County Circuit Court. 

Plans to replace Eugene City Hall have long been in the works because the 1964 building was unpopular with the community, the structure was outdated and the steam heating system was inefficient, said Steve Loges, project manager with the city's Facility Management Division. 

"It was like it was fenced off because of those wooden slats," he said. "The council was giving us direction they wanted to be out of there 12 years ago. 

"We knew it was a really costly building. It was a real energy hog, basically."

Plans to renovate the existing building were abandoned because it would have been challenging to adequately modify the deteriorating structure to fully meet community needs, Knudson said.

"The 1964 building didn't succeed as a place where the community felt welcome and that felt relevant to their daily lives," she said. "The desire from the community that Eugene City Hall is welcoming ... That is absolutely the basis for our design work."

To help achieve this goal, design for the new City Hall will include a fully accessible ground floor with lots of glass to give it a much more open fee, Knudson said.

"Eugene has a history and identity that takes a lot of pride in being an accessible city, so having a City Hall that that embraces accessibility is really important," she said. 

Although it could not be saved through a renovation, the original City Hall is being carefully deconstructed. The goal, Loges said, is to reuse 95 percent of the building materials. This includes crushing up the concrete base for use as infill for the new building and recycling the steel frame. 

"We're really trying to be responsible in taking that building down," he said. 

The Eugene City Council has consider preserving the round council chambers, but ultimately decided against that option because it would be too costly, Loges said.

One element of the original building that will be preserved is the wooden slat facade, but in a new form, Knudson said. The slats have been reclaimed and will be used on the new building's interior. 

"We will use that architectural element that has historically been seen as a barrier and transform that into something that communicates warmth in the building," she said.

Crews from Eugene-based general contractor McKenzie Commercial are schedule to start work on the new City Hall by the end of this year and wrap up in late 2016.

Eugene City Hall replacement
Location: 777 Pearl Street, Eugene
Cost: $18 million
Anticipated construction start date: late 2015
Anticipated construction completion date: late 2016
Owner: City of Eugene
Architects: Rowell Brokaw Architects and Miller Hull Partnership
Landscape Architects: PWL Partnership and Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture and Planning
Engineers: PAE, Catena Consulting Engineers and KPFF Consulting Engineers
Construction Manager-General Contractor: McKenzie Commercial
Other Associates: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Leland Consulting Group, Architectural Cost Consultants, Cogita Partners, Brightworks and Systems West Engineers


RBA hosts Swedish urban designer Stellan Fryxell

On February 24th, Stellan Fryxell, a UO guest lecturer visiting from Stockholm, joined RBA for lunch with a small group of local professionals and City staff.

As part of the UO SCI Expert in Residence lecture series, Stellan gave two lectures last month—one in Eugene and the other in Portland. The lecture was entitled 'Rethinking Cities’—A Holistic Approach to Sustainability and Urban Design.

Stellan Fryxell is a partner at Tengbom Architects in Stockholm, Sweden. Mr. Fryxell worked on various projects in Sweden, most notably Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm, and worldwide in Oslo, Riga, London, Dublin, Ostrava, Shanghai, Chongqing, Huludao, Saint Petersburg, Xi’an, and on the multiple award winning project in Wuxi.

Prior to joining Tengbom in 1991 Stellan worked with Ahlqvist and Co architects in cooperation with Ralph Erskine, and worked in New York with the Regional Planning Association 1981. He worked with Stockholm City Planning Department from 1974  to1987. Stellan has completed a Masters in Architecture in 1974 at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and completed further Masters in Architecture 1984 at the Royal University College of Fine Arts.

Mr. Stellan Fryxell is a regularly invited speaker at international conferences and universities, he  is a SymbioCity-Expert, a member of The International Federation of Consulting Engineers’ (FIDIC’s) Committee of Sustainable Development, he represents the Swedish Federation of Consulting Engineers and Architects in The European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations’ Sustainable Development Task Force, and he was a member of University College London’s steering committee on Urban Energy Systems.

Lecture Summary

Acknowledging that cities have a vital effect on the global environment, Stellan Fryxell will be discussing the need for a holistic approach to sustainable urbanism. Cities cover roughly 2% if the Earth’s land but use 75% of all energy an emit 80% of all carbon dioxide. Society has to “rethink cities” through evolving resource efficiency in cities with increased focus on planning and designing attractive areas. Stellan Fryxell believes urban challenges can be turned into opportunities and he will demonstrate this through Stockholm’s largest urban development project: Hammarby Sjöstad. This district has its own eco-cycle, the Hammarby Model, which outlines environmental solutions for buildings, traffic, waste, energy, water and sewage. The model is predicated on a strong Swedish tradition of public-private co-operation between planning authorities, developers, architects, engineering and environmental specialist. The benefits that can be gained when considering a systemic approach to cities will be further addressed by Mr. Fryxell through findings that were published in a paper by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers.

Video Link to ‘Rethinking Cities’ – A Holistic Approach to Sustainability and Urban Design lecture


University Street Feasibility Study featured in A&AA Bulletin

Does it all fit? Planning for a new A&AA on University Street

Wednesday, July 18, 2012  
A UO study examines use of a University Street complex for academic and student activities.

The recently completed feasibility study of University Street by Rowell Brokaw Architects set out to examine the “superblock” of campus space along University Street from East 15th to East 18th Avenues in Eugene. With the recent endorsement by the UO’s Acting Provost Lorraine Davis, this site could become the future home of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. The principal question the architects needed to answer was simple: Does it all fit? But of equal importance was the more complex question of how this site can become a vibrant part of the UO campus and create a new architectural pattern for academic and student activities in this area. 
For full article...

Above: 1950's aerial photograph of the U of O campus

Above: Diagram of the proposed framework for existing and proposed buildings and the campus open space recommendations from the University Street Study by Rowell Brokaw Architect



Media Contacts and Material Requests:
George Braddock, Creative Housing Solutions,, (541) 953-6219
Kaarin Knudson, Rowell Brokaw Architects,, (541) 485-1003

September 6, 2011


Making Homes That Work: A Resource Guide for Families Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder + Co-occurring Behaviors

A new resource for policymakers, caseworkers and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and co-occurring behaviors.

Developed by Creative Housing Solutions LLC and Rowell Brokaw Architects PC, “Making Homes That Work” explains how conventional housing often fails families and individuals experiencing significant ASD, and how appropriate, cost-effective modifications to the home environment can support an individual with disability living a more independent, self-directed life.

“This resource guide makes the case for including environmental assessment and home modifications in person-centered planning,” write George Braddock and John Rowell, authors of the guide. “Traditionally, the environment has been viewed as neutral, and assistance for families in crisis has focused on human supports. This project challenges the prevailing assumptions that human supports alone are enough. It suggests that the right physical environment can help individuals and families experiencing ASD and co-occurring behaviors to live full, meaningful and rich self-directed lives, thereby making human supports more effective.”

“Making Homes That Work” includes a step-by-step process by which caregivers can assess the home environment and implement modifications that are person-centered, and that respect the diversity of family and individual situations. The guide identifies patterns of activity and interaction that are common to many people with significant ASD, and documents the “Six Most Common Modifications” that support individuals with ASD remaining in the family home. Strategies that address the “Specific Challenges” of co-occurring behavior and aggression are also included.

The methods and recommendations presented in the guide are drawn from the authors’ 25 years of experience working on more than 1,500 projects for families and individuals experiencing disability. A series of Case Studies show how families have modified their homes and seen substantial improvements in quality of life and their ability to live together. Graphic cost comparisons illustrate how environmental modifications with inhome supports cost remarkably little in comparison with out-of-home placement.

“People experiencing significant ASD can continue to live in their own homes for as long as they wish—provided they have appropriate support and they have the right physical environment,” write the authors. This project was funded by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) with support from Lucinda Grant-Griffin, director of the Office of Housing Initiatives & Supports. It was made possible by the pioneering efforts of families who have transformed their homes and shared their experiences.


George Braddock, President of Creative Housing Solutions LLC, has pioneered the application of person-centered planning principles to the design and construction of homes for people with disabilities. John Rowell, AIA, NCARB, is a principal of Rowell Brokaw Architects, PC. in Eugene, Oregon, and a licensed architect in four states. He has been designing and researching environments for persons with developmental disabilities for 15 years, many in collaboration with George Braddock.