Architecture students reinvent South Willamette for Eugene city planners
The University’s architecture students presented their ideas of redesigning the South Willamette neighborhood to city planners Thursday evening.
Eugene planners have been working on a development plan for the city under the Envision Eugene motto, to account for the expected increase in residents.
“This responds to hopes and dreams many people might have about what South Willamette might be,” said Eugene Urban Design Planner Patricia Thomas.
While the students did follow city codes and zoning, their plans were mere visions of what the neighborhood could be, and the final plans will be made by the city planners.
“This is our chance to see the ideas of people untethered by housing codes,” Anne DeLaney, adjunct architecture instructor, said. “It’s kind of their jobs as students to be visionaries.”
The three things the students focused on were transportation, density and a mix of commercial building uses.
Transportation is expected to increase over the next few years, and the flow of traffic on Willamette Street is in need of improvement.
Most of the students’ designs included designated turn lanes, pedestrian-operated traffic lights and bike lanes.
The roundabouts slow down traffic and create a heart in the neighborhood, as it will set the neighborhood apart from surrounding areas and create a visual entryway into South Willamette at the same time.
Although roundabouts slow down traffic, they are “not as abrupt as a stoplight,” graduate student Colin Jensen pointed out.
Another issue that arose as the students started developing their plans was parking.
“Parking is a big issue,” University student Casey Hagerman said, explaining that all of the parking is surface parking and that all of the designs called for new ideas in parking such as parking structures and parking behind stores and housing.
The students designed their visions of South Willamette neighborhood to include not only Willamette Street, but the streets between Amazon Park and Willard School.
“Amazon Park is a plus for this neighborhood,” Dave Amos said.
The ideas included an east-west connection between the school and the park by adding more greenery to the neighborhood and making it more attractive to pedestrians.
University student Peter Hamilton suggested repaving the streets with cobblestones or bricks, because they would “feel more natural than blacktop asphalt” and would incorporate well with the natural feel of the park.
Though the neighborhood is zoned for high density, many of the current homes are not used as such.
Each student prepared a plan to increase the density of the neighborhood while still following city zoning and staying with the overall feel of the neighborhood.
“South Willamette serves multiple purposes,” University student Jen Huang said, explaining that people use the neighborhood to linger at the businesses but also as a thoroughfare to get to a different destination.
The students had diverse approaches, from duplexes and townhouses to high-rise apartment buildings.
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