Community College Downtown
by David Owen
Approaching the new Lane Community College (LCC) Downtown Center in Eugene, Oregon, you're greeted by a huge planar screen of vertical glass tubes suspended above the building entrance, partially shading the glazed southern facade of its atrium.
The screen is a thermal collector array for the center's domestic hot water system, hinting that the new campus satellite, including academic and student housing buildings, was created with a focus on sustainability.
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The 182,000-square-foot (17,000-square-meter) Downtown Center was built on a long-vacant prime lot in Eugene's city core, directly opposite the recent Eugene Public Library (2003), and with the city's primary bus transit center on the diagonal block to the southeast.
SRG Partnership designed the new campus, with Robertson Sherwood Architects acting as architect of record, and Pyatok Architects, as apartment design consultants. Construction of the new facility was made possible in part by an apparent sweetheart deal between the college and the City of Eugene, which parted with the site — valued around one million dollars — for just one dollar.
Two Part Complex
The center's program is divided on its half-block site between two L-shaped buildings that mirror each other to define a rectangular courtyard space at the center of the site. Although these buildings are connected at several points and share a common palette of neutral panels with occasional highlights of orange and green, their individual scale and detailing distinguish one from the other.
The southeastern building, with frontages on two streets, contains the center's academic functions, including classrooms, offices, laboratories and event spaces. And its L-shaped plan is staggered near the street corner to make room for a small public plaza leading to the building's atrium.
The quieter housing functions are contained in the second structure which runs along the rear of the site, to the north and west. This building also contains the college's book store, which is located on the ground-floor level of the western wing, adjacent to the academic building.
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