Shane Hess O'Neil collective works c. 2006 – 2014

NEIGHBORHOOD RECLAIMATION: Post-Industrial Mixed-Use Development

(Jun. 2010; University of Oregon School of Architecture; Eugene, OR)

In approaching the goal of regenerative design, it became imperative to maintain the integrity of the existing natural features while creating a livable and walk-able environment for the surrounding neighborhood. As it is today, the Amazon Creek creates the northern border of the site, and a large swath of wetlands inhabits the southern half, but they exist as mere objects tucked away and cordoned off from their surroundings. This isolation of such potent natural features is not unique to the Rexius site however, and can be found in the way Amazon Creek and the Millrace travel through downtown neighborhoods while every structure seems to disregard their presence and the only thing resembling an opportunity to experience the creek is the fact that roads pass over it. Instead of adopting Eugene’s typical approach to what role water plays within a neighborhood, this proposal celebrates the natural resources running through our site and treat them as focal points of day-to-day life.

An integrated stormwater management network comprised of on-surface drainage channels flowing to dry creeks, bioswales, raingardens, and catchment basins helps restore the 6 acre wetlands at the center of the site. Through backyards, alleys, along sidewalks and roads, water infrastructure connects each disparate corner of the site and does so in the public eye. This network and its tributaries become a fixture of urban life and begin to redefine this new place. They allow everyday occurrences to re-engage us with the natural world.

The master plan maintains the integrity of the existing natural features while creating a livable and walk-able environment seamlessly integrated with the surrounding neighborhood. Medium to high density housing options support anchor commercial and neighborhood commercial spaces (and vice-versa) to provide a vibrant urban setting elegantly framed by preserved wetlands and restored watershed. The buildings and homes are designed to reduce energy and water consumption through passive design, maximize comfort with district-scale geothermal heating and cooling, and integrate biophilic design with a robust relationship between the built and natural environments.