Chambers Mixed-Use Neighborhood

Eugene, Oregon

Like most cities its age and size, Eugene has substantial remnants of older residential neighborhoods that have architectural character and patterns of development unique to pre-World War II housing development. The Chambers Node is one such  neighborhood. A large portion of the Chambers area is zoned R-2, allowing significant additional density above the prevailing existing levels. Recent developments in the last 20 years are almost universally viewed by the neighborhood residents as destructive to the existing housing fabric.  

When Rowell Brokaw Architects teamed with Ron Kellet and the NeighborhoodLAB from Vancouver, British Columbia, we were faced with the task of leading the creation of neighborhood development standards that would guide or control future changes in the neighborhood, and be supported by the neighborhood residents.

Chambers Reconsidered” was the City of Eugene’s third project involving this neighborhood. The Chambers Node area is identified in TransPlan as a potential Mixed-Use Area. ODOT funded the project in order to help the City of Eugene make progress toward zoning the area with a nodal overlay. The first two projects failed to inspire the cooperation of the neighborhood and this third try was to be the last. The outcome of the project turned out to be an experiment in developing fine grain standards focused on one particular neighborhood.

Our work for this project entailed highly detailed research into the existing fabric of traditional Eugene neighborhoods. Following this research phase, we developed a series of proposals for standards that would preserve this character and allow for greater infill density. Issues considered and developed included lot size standards, building envelope standards, alley development criteria, setbacks, garage placement and many more. A key aspect of our work was leading the public meeting, and negotiating these proposals with stakeholders while attempting to meet the needs of COE, ODOT, TransPlan, and statewide land use goals.