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Daniel Ronan
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Can you please tell me how this fits in with the character of the Goose Hollow neighborhood? It's massing might suggest an apartment building, but only two units are incorporated in this entire structure. How is this at all sustainable? To me it seems like adapting a suburban lifestyle - building materials and all - to the urban setting. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
Indeed Brian, you bring up some good points, many universities would love to have the problem we have here at the University of Oregon. More germane to this post's content, I would say that this building is out-of-scale with its surroundings. It's physical footprint is massive, it breaks up the street grid and is not amenable to other forms of development or walking in between. What sort of message does this send on a public university campus? While I'll admit that the previous site left much to be desired, has the development improved the urban design of the area? My argument would be a resounding "no." For comparison, just look at the campus' original quad between Lillis and the library, it's surroundings are humane, the buildings face the space. The Matt Knight Arena faces towards a major arterial but away from the campus itself. While I respect your affinity for buildings, I feel that architecture as a discipline has become too easily distracted by what is immediately on a site rather than including its surrounding context. Until architecture starts to work with urban design and planning, I think we'll continue to see buildings that lack context and soul.
Brian, thank you for mentioning the utterly skewed priorities of the University of Oregon. Indeed, I agree with you when you say "it's right now a tale of two students at UO, the athlete and the academic." However, I take issue with your whimsical and uniformed hope that somehow more egalitarian architecture will take place. With all of this starchitecture going on, the University will be hard pressed to find money to address the apparent inequalities in favor of newer, bigger and grander spaces for many that receive free tuition. It's sickening, and unfortunately, I think your raving reviews of Matt Arena merely feed into the mantra that "athletics helps academics" - please, show me some studies and show me the money.
I happen to think that the buildings that have been built by TVA have been entirely out of context with their surroundings. With Fox Tower, a building which, after 4pm during the summer, blankets Pioneer Courthouse Square entirely in shade, is not sensitive to respecting public space. In addition, I think it's lobby is impersonal and removed from the street scape. Nike Campus - not too much to say here, mainly its a bunch of buildings built in isolation, its easier to design what you want when there isn't much to build off of - I personally don't care too much for the campus. Lastly, perhaps the holy grail of insensitive design is the imposing new stadium at the UO, my university. The building is completely oblivious to the current built environment of the rest of the campus - perfect starchitecture, reinforcing the concept of exceptionalism in our state higher education system. While I appreciate the commentary on this blog, I find the elephant in the room is too often missed with your love of buildings and not enough attention paid to the context in which these buildings take their shape.
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Jan 17, 2011