The city is a most telling artifact of human civilization. Walk down any city street and the buildings, sidewalks, trees, signs and cars together create a total experience. A city is a physical fact that we see as it is, but we know intuitively there is much more. Cities tell us about what matters in a culture, or a community, and what matters to individual people. What is not as obvious, what we don’t see, and what often fades quickly from memory, is what physically existed before and what has changed.
Eugene is not an old city, but it already has many layers. It has been surprisingly dynamic in the decades since photographic records began. Stories and memories live on, and the locations of the streets have not changed, but the individual buildings and the streetscapes they form have changed in remarkable ways. These images, collected from public records at the University of Oregon, allow us to observe a dimension of time in city experience, focusing on a few of Eugene’s primary city streets.
This is a project by Rowell Brokaw Architects, PC, a 15-person design firm based in Eugene, Oregon with six licensed architects on staff. Led by John Rowell, AIA and Gregory Brokaw, AIA, the firm offers urban design, architectural, interior, and furniture design services as well as programming, visioning, and master planning to a variety of public and private clients.
The idea for this work grew out of our commitment to better cities. Livable cities are a big part of a sustainable future. In 2007, Rowell Brokaw Architects established a research fund for graduate architecture students at the University of Oregon to support the investigation of critical questions in architecture and urban planning. Over the past 3 years, the fund has sponsored research on what makes cities vibrant and livable, focusing on multi-family housing and on the formation and evolution of urban districts. Eight graduate students have received fellowships to date. The outcome of the research is made available for public and professional use.
All historical images are courtesy of the University of Oregon Libraries under a Creative Commons License.
Reposted 30 October 2010 with permission. Visit Eugene City blog here.