13th Avenue, the arterial passage for the University of Oregon, could see extensive changes in the future, and the UO Campus Planning and Facilities Management will host two events to educate the public on what those changes might involve. The 13th Avenue Axis Conceptual Design, the plan to redesign the street, will be elaborated on Feb. 7 during an open house at Erb Memorial Union, and at a public lecture held at Lawrence Hall the same day.
“This meeting that's coming up will be the first time the designs will be shared with people,” said, Aaron Olsen, CPFM landscape planning associate. “And the intent will be to get feedback to inform where the project goes and to be pulled into the final conceptual design.”
Olsen noted the importance of denoting this endeavor as conceptual; “This is a high-level, big-picture design project, so before anything would actually happen, there would be subsequent design phases. This is really the first stage in a larger process.”
The project began in the fall of 2018, with data collection, interaction with stakeholders and advisory boards and preparation.
“All the work that's happened has been done to set up this chance to bring the first look at what's being explored,” explained Olsen.
Campus Planning has hired Walker Macy Landscape Architecture to lead the landscape design, with planning consultancy firm Gehl Studio collaborating through the analysis of the public's relationship with the space.
“We conducted what we call a Public Space Public Life survey over several days,” said Blaine Merker, managing director for Gehl Studio, “We had campus staff and the campus community help us collect that data. We are understanding how people move, where people stay, what they do, and how those people are using the avenue.”
Merker will be leading the evening lecture to describe Gehl's work in the past situations, and how that fits with the UO project they are currently undertaking.
The project aims to make 13th Avenue more accessible, considering the high traffic on the street on a daily basis.
“13th Avenue looks like some of the most busy and successful pedestrian streets around the world, in terms of volume of people,” said Merker, “The UO campus is on par with world-class public spaces when people change classes, while during other times there are far fewer people”
Transformation would mean bringing 13th more in line with this usage. “An important part of the project is improving universal access for all modes of transportation and just generally looking at how that space flows and functions,”Olsen said. “In general, this project is about the supporting and promoting pedestrians and bicycles.”
Olsen explained that any alterations that could be made will follow a sustainable design that will work for longevity.
“As far as the final product itself, I think we'll be looking at opportunities to demonstrate sustainable design principles, and to be responsible with resources and environmental impacts.”
Should any design be implemented, Olsen believes that it will yield positive results for the campus.
“This space is unique in the sense that there is a public life,” Olsen said of the social environment along the avenue.”You have an opportunity to see people moving, and encounter people, and talk to people. That's what I think is exciting about the project, to transform what's there now, and make it into something that's really memorable.”