Register Guard article: City Hall project


Architects make pitch for Eugene City Hall job

By Edward Russo
The Register-Guard
PUBLISHED: 12:00 A.M., MAY 16

Showing photos of their best work, the architects vying to design Eugene’s next City Hall made pitches on Wednesday evening to residents and the man who would hire them, City Manager Jon Ruiz.

A standing-room crowd of more than 50 people attended the presentations in the Bascom Tykeson Room of the Public Library by Rowell Brokaw Architects of Eugene and THA Architecture of Portland.

The architects did not present potential designs for a new City Hall. That won’t happen until sometime after Ruiz hires one of their firms.

Instead, the architects discussed how they would meet the City Council’s five values that are meant to guide the project: identity, participation, stewardship, simplicity and Eugene at age 200 — 50 years from now.

Architect John Rowell promoted his firm’s hometown roots.

“We know what it means to be local,” he said, standing in front of a slide with a map contrasting the two-minute walk from his downtown office to City Hall, compared to a two-hour drive from Portland to Eugene. “We wake up in this city each day.”

The City Council has decided to construct a smaller City Hall on its present site, the block bounded by East Eighth and Seventh avenues and Pearl and High streets, using as much of the existing building and parking as is practical.

THA architect Corey Martin, using a fast-moving Powerpoint presentation, said his firm is aware of the problems in the now-shuttered City Hall, including its fortress-like appearance.

“The main problem with the building is that it does not activate the street,” he said.

While they would be the lead architects on the project, both Rowell Brokaw and THA have partnered with other architecture firms to design City Hall.

Rowell Brokaw would team with Miller Hull Partnership of Seattle. THA would partner with 2Form Architecture of Eugene.

Ruiz organized the public presentations after the firms were ranked as the top two of seven firms that had applied for the work.

Ruiz spoke briefly at the beginning of the meeting, saying that he wants the community to be proud of a new City Hall. The design should “touch on our past, describe the present” and include a “nod to the future,” he said.

A 10-member residents’ committee appointed by Ruiz watched the presentations, with some members asking questions of the architects. Other residents in the audience asked questions, too, and they were asked to fill out forms ranking how they thought the firms did in responding to the five project values.

Ruiz is to consider the comments as he decides which firm to select sometime in the next few weeks.

The committee members are Carmen Urbina, Dan Herbert, Rob Bennett, Jennifer Yeh, Andrew Fisher, Joe Moore, Frances Bronet, Dennis Casady, Donna Dubois and Susan Sygall.

Rowell Brokaw’s portfolio includes buildings in northeast Eugene’s Crescent Village and the recent renovation by developer Steve Master of the former “Taco Time” building at Broadway and Willamette. The building is now called First on Broadway.

THA’s work includes the High Desert Museum outside Bend, Sherwood City Hall and the Beaverton Public Library.

A new City Hall could cost $15 million, officials estimate. Of that, $11 million is estimated for construction and $4 million for design and other costs.