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Local architects speak for City Hall renovation

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:25 am
by Kevin
The talk by Otto Poticha at the Eugene City Club last fall, in favor of saving Eugene City Hall, was covered in this Register-Guard story:

Architect says keep City Hall
By Edward Russo ... cityregion

"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."

"The City Council has launched a planning effort to help it decide whether to renovate the 41-year-old City Hall, construct a new building on its present downtown block or build a new structure elsewhere. ..."

But as the article concludes, the ruling families may not agree...

"City Councilor Gary Papé also attended the talk. He said he doubts that the city could afford to renovate City Hall, plus build new structures. Papé said the city has many needs competing for money.

""We're behind in police. We're behind in fire," he said. "And we have $90 (plus) million in street (repair) backlog that we need to take care of."

"He also disagreed with Poticha's view that City Hall is an inviting public building. "But that's beauty in the eye of the beholder," Papé said."

And in this Eugene Weekly article from last fall, columnist Michael Cockram (who also writes for ArchitectureWeek), despite an attitude of resignation about the process, also supports the importance of preserving Eugene City Hall:

City Hall 3.0
Memory loss and the 100 million-dollar-baby

"...Eugene's architectural godfather and gadfly Otto Poticha called for the preservation of the existing building in his address to the City Club recently. ...

"Cities need built-in memories — their histories are written not only in words but also in buildings. Significant buildings are landmarks to our culture. The many layers of Rome come to mind — but Corvallis gives some (less Romantic) insight closer to home. Corvallis' old City Hall still stands as an anchor in it's downtown — about the same vintage as Eugene's original building. Citizens and activists have made a valiant struggle to keep out the big box retailers and to keep much of the historic fabric of the town. And its downtown supports a variety of small locally owned shops — avoiding the pervasive vacancy that characterized downtown Eugene for so many years. Corvallis doesn't have a mall.

"Then there's the principle of reuse — of saving not only cultural resources but physical resources as well. Principles don't always describe the most practical path but they push us toward more responsible ways of building and living. City governments should operate on principles as well as the principle bottom line. ..."

Especially, I think, with regard to sustainability, at this time when the outgassing caused by our species is putting much of the biosphere at risk.