A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Students offer daring downtown designs

Written December 7th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
UO student Krin Ziv talks about her concept of a downtown Albany performing arts center Wednesday.

UO student Karin Ziv talks about her concept of a downtown performing arts center Wednesday.

Architecturally speaking, downtown Albany would be a more exciting place if there was a way to carry out any of several redevelopment designs worked up by students at the University of Oregon.

About a dozen UO students — from Oregon, other states and abroad — presented their ideas at City Hall Wednesday afternoon. They developed them during fall term in a design studio class taught by Joseph Moore. They and students and faculty in other classes at the university are spending this school year working on Albany projects as part of a UO program called the “Sustainable Cities Year.”

Moore’s architecture students had an assignment: Come up with designs of how three downtown sites could be redeveloped. The sites are the former St. Francis Hotel, the post office block, and the city parking lot behind the old Penney’s Building.

Allen Suwardi’s concept for the St. Francis would preserve the four-story historic building’s façade but gut the interior and construct a seven-story addition to provide hotel rooms, apartments, other uses and even a terrace that would serve as green space. The students were not supposed to worry about economics, and asked how much his concept would cost to carry out, Suwardi hesitated and then said, “A lot of money.”

A few years ago a Portland development company proposed to remodel the building as workforce housing at a cost then estimated at $10 million.

Other students presented less ambitious ideas for the St. Francis. One said her approach was to keep the original interior structure and build a number of apartments or units for short-term stays by combining adjoining former hotel rooms and turning some bathrooms into kitchens.

Student Karin Ziv’s idea was to build a performing arts center, consisting of sweeping curves outside and in, on the site of the Albany Post Office. Her design had an auditorium for 300-340 people as well as a restaurant and space for other uses, including art galleries. There’s no indication the post office has any plans to leave its leased building and grounds, but if Albany keeps growing the Postal Service may have to change sites eventually.

For the city-owned parking lot between the remodeled Penney’s Building and Water Avenue, students presented several concepts for turning the property into a combination market-restaurant-business center. Steven Liang’s design called for, among many other things, space for a permanent farmer’s market facing Water Avenue.

How about parking, city officials wondered. Some of the student designs featured underground parking. But If anything like these ideas are ever carried out and bring in hundreds more people and vehicles downtown, a parking structure likely is inevitable.

The UO-Albany partnership continues for the rest of the academic year. Students in a variety of disciplines are also tackling tasks such as master planning for city parks and developing ideas for rejuvenating Water Avenue and the riverfront. (hh)

Allen Suwardi's St. Francis design in drawings and two models, one on its site in a plywood mockup of donwtown, the other in the foreground..

Allen Suwardi’s St. Francis design in drawings, behind him, and two models, one on its site in a plywood mockup of downtown, the other in the left foreground.

Steven Liang with a model of his idea for a market buiding facing Water Avenue.

Steven Liang with a model of his idea for a market building facing Water Avenue.



12 responses to “Students offer daring downtown designs”

  1. Jim Clausen says:

    Were these projects the students were hoping the city would do with “redevelopment” money? Doesn’t this teach them, at a young age, to depend on the government to supply all their needs? If that’s the case, why don’t we just have the government eminent domain the whole of downtown so they can build their paradise?

    Redevelopment is a farce. What it really is, is social engineering. Something that’s the direct opposite of what this country fought to get away from…

    • Bob Woods says:

      Once again Jim, you show why you were such a dreadful candidate for mayor, and one so soundly rejected by the voters: No imagination, no understanding and no ability. Just an anti-government fanatic with no education of any kind who says the UN is out to take over Albany.

      I’m sure Trump will offer you a Supreme Court seat, any century now.

      • Jim Clausen says:

        Gee Bob, I know you have no concerns whatsoever about government getting bigger and bigger while outside influences push for exactly that, but why is it that you have such a hard time sticking to the facts at hand rather than to vague innuendo?

        Yup, I’ve queried before and questioned present influences within the city council. So far no one has answered why the mayor is intimately involved with the UN council of mayors. Nor has anyone answered my questions about the city using software created by ICLEI – which is a subsidiary of the UN. Nor have my questions been answered about ICLEI awarding recognition for “transparency” – a “transparency” standard set by ICLEI itself. And on and on and on…

        I realize that questions such as these don’t affect a globalist mentality such as your own, but to the average Joe who doesn’t want outside influences in city hall, they’re kind of important…

        PS – I got 2 thirds of the votes the mayor did… I’d say, for a first time running, that was pretty good… besides, I haven’t spent years buying votes with “forgivable loans” and “grants” all over town like the mayor has done… not having the ability to buy votes puts me at a disadvantage from the start… don’t ya think?

    • centrist says:

      I guess that we read different histories. In mine, the problem wasn’t social engineering (a concept well into the future), but relief from oppression, forced religion, and taxation with no benefit (among others)
      This is a design program intended to develop design and presentation capabilities. Money, by the way, is brought in by much senior folks.

  2. Tony White says:

    Part of the curriculum should focus on finding private funding to carry out the redevelopment. If they can, charge forward. If they can’t, maybe there’s a reason to hesitate and not throw public money at it.

    • H. R. Richner says:

      Exactly! “The students were not to worry about economics.” Why not? Without economics such an effort is but a vague piece of art. Not worrying about economics has brought us the worst policies from Washington, some of which I hope are about to change.

      • Hasso Hering says:

        There was nothing “vague” about the work of these students. You wouldn’t say that if you had seen their detailed drawings and models. And if somebody had told Monsieur Eiffel to keep the costs down, chances are that his tower would not have been built. (hh)

        • Jim Clausen says:

          Hasso in essence tells us, “It doesn’t matter what it costs… just do it!” Just curious Hasso, do you apply this same standard when having work done on your house or car?

          Re “vague”… missed the metaphor did ya? H.R. was referring to the pervasive attitude of spending without concern – not to the plans being vague… Unless you intentionally wanted to muddy the waters…

          • Hasso Hering says:

            No reason to get all churlish about these design ideas presented by talented and idealistic students. The projects they envisioned as part of an assignment are not going to be carried out in the real world. They would require investments far in excess of what is realistic in economic terms. But it was encouraging to see the enthusiasm and imagination of these young people, traits that a long life has worn down in at least some of the people who listened to their presentations. These students will encounter hard facts soon enough, the first time they work on an actual project that involves budgets and cost accountants. But meantime, let’s be grateful for their earnest interest in — and the dreams they expressed for — downtown Albany. (hh)

          • Jim Clausen says:

            As noted before, there was nothing “churlish” about what I said pertaining designs. Most of my “churlishness” appears when government wastes money in an effort to devise social engineering.

            As far as the students are concerned, we teach them now to depend on the government for “free” lunch, we teach them that government is the source of loans, we teach them that government is there to protect them from evil corporations, in essence we teach them that government has all the answers. Which it does not, we’re teaching them fables and lies…

            That being said, it comes as no surprise when students petition and protest the government to force a $15 minimum wage. Or that they petition schools for lower grade standards. And counseling because their candidate didn’t win. Or the leftist ad infinitum we see on college campuses today.

            I’ve said nothing about the designs – although it keeps coming back to that. What I’ve railed about is wasteful government spending and teaching kids to depend more and more on government. Tis a shame that this got twisted into something it never was…

            This is the kind of “fake news” that irks people. When what has been said is taken out of context and pilfered for personal gain. Tis a shame…

            Y’all can go back to your government provided and politically correct “safe spaces” now…

  3. hj.anony1 says:

    Vision & creativity surely brings out the curmudgeons!

    • centrist says:

      Hear, hear!!!
      Curmudgeons have little vision or creativity. Tend to be churlish regressives firmly focused on themselves
      Just sayin’


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