Heritage Landscape Plan

 

 

 

 

 

Lawrence / Cuthbert Era (1914 - 1946)

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Click here for Interactive Map of Historic Buildings and Landscapes

HISTORY

In 1914 Ellis F. Lawrence was hired to be the University of Oregon’s architect and to develop its school of art and architecture. Several decades later in 1933, the school hired Frederick A. Cuthbert to start the department of landscape architecture and to serve as the university’s landscape architect. Lawrence and Cuthbert’s design work for the campus, both individually and in collaboration, differed significantly from the more informal character of the Inception Era landscape.

During this era the campus ground matured, and most walks were made of concrete. Several roads cut through the university, with 13th Avenue a primary arterial for Eugene traffic between the city core and Franklin Boulevard. The electric streetcar from the previous era was no longer in service, and the Southern Pacific Railroad moved its tracks north of the Millrace.

Lawrence developed the first master plan for the campus in 1914 and subsequent plans in 1923 and 1932. He aggressively expanded the campus south of 13th Avenue, integrating a combination of the Gothic quadrangular plan with the axial arrangement espoused by the Beaux-Arts style. This combination of design principles has proved to be very effective for the campus, with quadrangles anchoring the plan and axes accommodating future growth. Landscape areas were defined by the orthogonal placement of buildings with impressive facades, producing a rather formal arrangement that offered a contrast to the casual nature of the Old Campus Quadrangle and the siting of its surrounding buildings.

A number of the landscape areas developed during this era immediately became character-defining features of the campus itself, They include the Memorial Quadrangle, anchored by Knight Library, and the Women’s Quadrangle, with Gerlinger Hall at its southernhead. Lawrence also proposed formal connections to the city of Eugene through the design of celebrated access points, the Dads’ Gates providing a good example. Fred Cuthbert further developed this area, along with the Memorial Quad and Women’s Quad, in his plans of 1939 and 1940, much of which was actually instituted. Subsequently, all three of these areas have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

At the end of the era the campus consisted of approximately 100 acres, with most of the university buildings populating the north and west edges. Twenty-four university built structures from this era were surveyed for this study, representing a rather astonishing number considering this period spanned two world wars and a great depression. Even more impressive is that most all buildings were designed by Ellis Lawrence while he was dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts and ran a full and prolific practice in Portland.

Ellis Lawrence

Ellis Fuller Lawrence was born in 1879 in Malden, Massachusetts. As a young man he attended perhaps the best architectural school of the time, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Trained in the École des Beaux-Arts style, Lawrence was highly influenced by his professor, Constant Désiré Despradelle. Despradelle’s teachings focused intently on the floor plan of a building, with spaces and circulation layout dictated by the structure’s internal functions. This attention to order and function would eventually manifest itself in Lawrence’s work in campus master planning. After graduation Lawrence was employed by John Calvin Stevens of Portland, Maine. Stevens was a leading practitioner of the Shingle style during the late 1800s. When arriving in Portland in 1906, Lawrence brought with him a knowledge of building styles steeped in traditional forms.
Ellis F. Lawrence  

In 1914 Lawrence assumed his position as the University of Oregon. Between 1916 and 1937, he built twenty-five buildings at the University of Oregon, many of which were not only architecturally distinguished, but also quite innovative. For instance, McArthur Court was the first building in Oregon--if not the western U.S.-–to use a new structural advancement called the lamella roof.

Lawrence guided the growth of the campus until his death in 1946, and although many of the details of his plan for the university have since changed, the basic organization of his vision is clearly evident today. He believed his plans permitted a high degree of adaptability without need to change the basic nature of the scheme, and sixty years of campus growth has proven him correct. Lawrence’s work has become the hallmark of the campus, most notably in his building and landscape ensembles for the Memorial Quadrangle and the Women’s Quadrangle. The University of Oregon campus is the largest collection of Lawrence’s work, and is an excellent example of his mastery of planning and architecture.

Over the course of his life, Lawrence designed more than 500 buildings, and was considered one of the most significant of all Oregon architects. He was instrumental in the foundation of the Portland Architectural Club, the Architectural League of the Pacific Coast, the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Builders Eexchange of Portland, and the Oregon Building Congress. Through his guidance, the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts gained national prominence. Lawrence designed industrial towns, was instrumental in the success of Portland’s Ladd’s Addition, and developed master plans for Whitman College and the University of Oregon’s School of Medicine campus in Portland (Oregon Health & Science University). Lawrence felt that architecture should have at its root a devotion to public service, and to him architecture “never seemed as important as the people who were to live, work, or worship in the buildings I designed.”

Frederick Cuthbert

 
Cuthbert's 1940 development plan for a north entrance connecting into the heart of campus.  

Frederick A. Cuthbert, born in 1902, was hired by the University of Oregon in 1932 as program director and later department head of Landscape Architecture. Cuthbert also served as the university’s landscape architect, collaborating with campus architect Ellis Lawrence on some of the most distinguished open spaces on campus, namely the Quadrangle and the Women’s Quadrangle. Cuthbert’s own plans show the distinctive ‘X’ and ‘O’ paths of the Quad that help define this space. His work was also instrumental in the eventual design of both the Dads’ Gates and Johnson Lane Axis.

Cuthbert practiced what was considered to be a new consciousness of the natural landscape, which found expression in regional parks and open-space systems ranging from Eugene to Seattle. Besides his involvement with the planning and development of the University of Oregon campus, Cuthbert designed Alton Baker Park (where the amphitheater bears his name), and the landscape of the State Capitol.Fred Cuthbert was a nationally respected landscape architect and teacher founding the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, he was a member for over 25 years, serving as its president and chairman of the Board of Fellows. He retired from his department head position at the university in 1971 and died seven years later in 1978.

McArthur Court circa 1935 Gerlinger Hall, 1923, which Lawrence designed in the Georgian Revival style, just one of the many styles used throughout his career.

 

ERA CHARACTERISTICS

The Lawrence/Cuthbert Era marks a substantial period of development for the university. During that time a large section of the campus was planned, constructed, and populated with a great number of buildings. Because of this and the strong association with the men it is named after, the Lawrence/Cuthbert is considered one of the university’s most definitive periods.Of the twenty-one landscapes surveyed for this study, fourteen have a significant association with this era. They are characterized by the formal use of axes and quadrangles and the deliberate relationship with adjacent buildings. A listing of more specific defining characteristics for this era follows.

Land Use, General
University, auto through-circulation.

Spatial Organization
Formal quadrangles/malls and greens, defined (or planned to be defined) by building facades and massing. Building entry courts and subspaces, with buildings forming smaller lateral and interior courts (Music, Education, Architecture, Gerlinger). Axes following or extending from streets. Symmetrical layouts reinforced by circulation and tree canopies.

Natural Systems and Features
Former maintained prairie replaced with lawns and large trees.
The Condon oaks retained.

 
  1921 aerial, near the start of the what would be one of the university's largest building campaign.

Circulation Patterns
Relates to orthogonal street grids, but through streets limited to 13th, 18th, University, and Onyx, plus residential streets at edges. Auto access to buildings generally at edges with circular turnarounds. Pedestrian circulation formal and geometrical (rectilinear, axial, diagonal, circular, horseshoe). Pathways axial, double parallel, following and extending across streets; and informal, primarily diagonal and retained from Inception Era. Entries widened, formalized and marked. Boardwalks replaced with concrete sidewalks.

Topography
Flat and evenly sloping planes; reinforcing rectilinear layouts. Buildings provided a plinth. Retaining walls used to create planar topography.

Vegetation
Formal tree plantings reinforced street grid and axes, and circulation patterns. Tree species primarily large native and eastern conifers and shade trees: Pinoak, red oak, red maple, Eenglish oak, Japanese red pine, Norway maple “Crimson King”, flowering cherries, Sawara falsecypress, yew. Hedges appear. Understory shrub bed and foundational plantings of viburnum, rhododendron, hydrangea, cotoneaster, and roses. Ground plane primarily lawn.

Views and Vistas
Long views emphasized by axial organization; axial views to Millrace (1914 plan) and to grand buildings at the heads of axes.

Buildings and Structures
Mixed styles: Georgian Revival, Venetian, Art Deco, Mediterranean, and primarily brick of two to three stories.

Small-scale Elements
Walls, fountains, sculpture (Pioneer and Pioneer Mother), commemorative markers, lamp posts, decorative wrought-iron fences and gates, brick and cast stone walls, cast stone benches.

Edge Conditions
Edges formed by building facades, roads and pathways, reinforced by tree allees. Setbacks from quads narrow, but typically generous open spaces provided between buildings. Setbacks from roads are wider.

 

 Memorial Quadrangle, circa 1945,  showing the "X" and "O" pathways  system that characterizes it.

Interactive Map of Historic Buildings and Landscapes

1.0 Landscape Preservation Guidelines and Description of Historic Resources
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Section I
- Section II
- Section III
         - Inception Era
         - Lawrence/Cuthbert Era
         - Mid-century Era

- Appendices (pdf)
- Complete Document (pdf)

 

2.0 Site Specific Preservation Plans and Guidelines

 

3.0 Historic Landscapes        

 

4.0 Historic Buildings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An abundance of trees,  attractively grouped, pathways  and lanes between various  buildings, shrubbery of different  kinds, and always flowers in  their appropriate  seasons,  enable the Oregon campus to have  a distinction peculiar to itself.
    
 -"The Campus Beautiful" in the
1920 Oregana yearbook