by Kevin Matthews
The new Federal Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon by Thom Mayne and his Los Angeles firm Morphosis, is in some ways an outstanding building for this small city. Mayne certainly delivers a strong dose of visual excitement. The depth of art in this architecture is more open to question.
Mayne is a shrewd raconteur and a talented fashion designer. At an inaugural lecture in Eugene, associated with the opening of the new 260,000-square-foot (24,000-square-meter) courthouse, the assembled group of local architects, VIPs, and design students was, by and large, well entertained. Whether they were impressed is less certain.
The building, designed in collaboration with architect-of-record DLR Group of Portland, is impressive in a number of ways. The entry ensemble — with a long ramp, grand steps, and glass canopy — has a clean, elegant athleticism built up from a combination of brutalist and high-tech elements.
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