Eugene, Oregon


At a time when Americans are deeply divided about the role of government and whether judges should interpret or apply the law, courthouse architecture has become a potential battlefield. No matter what it looks like, every new courthouse—especially one built by the federal government—sends a message about values and political beliefs.

Photo © Tim Griffith

Iconography was very much on the mind of Michael Hogan, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 1999, when the General Services Administration (GSA) held a design competition for the Wayne Lyman Morse U.S. Courthouse in Eugene. (Hogan is no longer chief judge, but remains on the court.) A conservative jurist appointed by the first President George Bush, Hogan imagined Cass Gilbert’s Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., whenever he thought of courthouse design. Enter Thom Mayne, the Morphosis principal who flaunts his credentials as a leftist iconoclast and designs buildings whose fragmented forms embody, as he explains, “a lack of completion, an open-ended process.” Natural enemies, Hogan and Mayne locked horns immediately. When Hogan was outvoted and Morphosis won the Eugene courthouse job, the judge couldn’t see how he could ever be comfortable working in a building designed by Mayne. But he set himself the task of engaging Mayne in a discussion of values and ideas, challenging the architect while keeping his own mind open. The two strong-willed individuals had plenty of time to wrestle with issues large and small, as the courthouse site changed and the building didn’t open until December 2006. By then, Hogan and Mayne had become close collaborators, still disagreeing on politics but speaking in one voice about the critical issues expressed in the $78 million, 270,000-square-foot courthouse that stands on the south bank of the Willamette River.

The curving, organic forms of the courtrooms allude to the cedar-clad pods Rogers designed in Bordeaux and establish what Mayne calls a “collective language” for the rest of the building. In an unusual move, Mayne and Groves placed the judges’ chambers above the courtrooms instead of adjacent to them, and inserted pairs of teardrop-shaped courtrooms in three pavilions. As a result, the rooms for judicial proceedings read as distinct forms, announcing their role as the public venue for justice. Wrapped in ribbons of 16-gauge stainless steel brushed with a nondirectional finish (so it won’t create glare), the courtroom pavilions express a fluid attitude to the law (or at least design) that seems to be more Thom Mayne than Michael Hogan.


GSA Northwest Arctic Region 10 

2041 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, California  90404
t: 310.453.2247
f: 310.829.3270

Morphosis project team:
Thom Mayne, FAIA

Project Manager:
Kim Groves (Registered Architect)

Job Captain:
Maria Guest    

Project Designer:
Ben Damron, Patrick Tighe (Registered Architect), Eui-Sung Yi                                        

Project team:
Caroline Barat, Linda Chung, Ted Kane (Registered Architect), Ung-Joo Scott Lee (Registered Architect), Rolando
Mendoza, John Skillern, Martin Summers

Project Assistants:
Alasdair Dixon, Haseb Faqirzada, Dwoyne Keith, Laura McAlpine, Gerardo Mingo, Sohith Perera, Nadine Quirmbach, Michaela Schippl, Natalia Traverso Caruana

DLR Group project team:
Jon Pettit, AIA, Bill Buursma, AIA, Kent Larson, AIA

Project Architect:
Jim Conley (Registered Architect), Jason Wandersee (Registered Architect)                                                   

GSA Project Team:
Senior Contracting Officer:
Patrick Brunner

Project Executive: 
Richard Broderick

Project Manager-Concept Phase: 
John Bland

Fire Protection Engineer: 
Chuck Koval

Construction Engineer:
Chris Helmer

Financial Manager:
Frank Krawczyk

Realty Specialist:
Mike Sciacqua

Property Manager:
Guy Cannova

Interior Designer:
Carmie Simons

Account Manager:
Peter Gray

Design Competition Jurors:
Michael Fifield, Robert Ivy, William Pedersen

Design Excellence National Peers:
Barton Phelps, Michael Fifield, Andrea Leers, Joseph Giovannini, Mark Tortorich, Peter Schaudt, Carol Mayer Reed

Art in Architecture National Peer: 
Tamara Thomas

Design Architect:

Architect of record/ Executive Architect:
DLR Group

Interior designer:

Structural and Civil: 
KPFF, Gaafar Gaafar, Principal, Matt Dolan, Associate                                          

Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing:
IBE Consulting Engineers, Alan Locke, Principal

HVAC and Plumbing: 
Glumac International, Steve Straus, President                                       

DLR Group, Steve Hubbs, Electrical Engineer with Cherry City Electric                                            

Landscape architect:
Richard Haag Associates Inc., Richard Haag, Principal                                          

Lighting Consultant:
Horton Lees Brogden, Teal Brogden, Principal

Acoustical Consultant:
McKay Conant Brook Inc., Robert Schmidt, Senior Consultant

Collaborative Artists:
Matthew Ritchie, Cris Bruch, Kristin Timkin, Sean Healy

Blast Consultant:
Hinman Consulting Engineering, Eve Hinman, Principal; Joyce Engebretsen, Engineer

Low Voltage/Audio/Visual:
Alta Consulting Services Inc., Cy Humphries, Principal; Marv Roberts, Project Manager

Vertical Circulation:
Lerch, Bates and Associates, Steve Mikkelsen

Mayer Reed, Michael Reed, Principal; Debbie Shaw, Designer

Cost estimator:
Davis Langdon, David Hudd, Principal

Code Consultant:
Tuazon Engineering, Eric Tuazon     

Move Coordination:
Heery International

West Coast Geotech

Fire/Life Safety:
Tuazon Engineering

Metal Wall Panels:
A. Zahner

Structural Steel Fabrication: 
Canron Western Constructors

Structural Steel Installation:
Carr Construction

Delta Construction

Ebenisterie Beaubois, LTEE

Harmon Inc.

Fire Protection:

Vertical Transportation:
Thyssen-Krupp Elevator

Professional Service Industries

Umpqua Roofing Company, Inc.

Total Mechanical Inc.

Western Partitions Inc.

Construction Management:
Jacobs Facilities with Construction CPR

General contractor/ Construction Manager as Constructor:
J.E. Dunn:
President: Fred Shipman
Vice President Construction: Gail Wikstrom
Project Manager: Alan Halleck

Tim Griffith

Image courtesy of Morphosis

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Bentley Triforma




Structural system:
Spread Footings

Basement to Level 2: Concrete, Levels 3-5: Steel

Metal/glass curtainwall:
Aluminum Curtainwall with Custom Horizontal Cap
14 and 16 gage stainless steel panels with angel hair finish

Poured in place concrete

EIFS, ACM, or other:
Smooth troweled, integral color Portland cement plaster

Built-up roofing:

Aluminum entrance and storefront window system

Viracon VRE 1-58 IGU in curtainwall
Viracon VE 1-2 IGU-insulated glass units in storefront

Aluminum and steel frames

Insulated-panel or plastic glazing:
16U with ceramic frit

All glass entrance

Metal doors:
Stainless steel and aluminum secondary entrance/egress doors

Wood doors:
Cherry, walnut and painted interior

Sliding doors:
Grandview Aluminum Frame Glazed Sliding Doors

Fire-control doors, security grilles:
Won-Door fire-control doors

Special doors (sound control, X-ray, etc.):
Custom glass and aluminum swinging doors at courtrooms

Custom painted aluminum and stainless steel pulls at courtroom doors

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings:
Baswaphon, Ecophon, Armstrong Dune and Ultima Tiles

Suspension grid:
Armstrong Suprafine and Prelude

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Walnut and Cherry quarter-sliced, random match

Maharam Sharkskin

Maharam Blink and Maharam Sharkskin

Special surfacing:
Richlite Countertops

Floor and wall tile (cite where used):
Mosa Romain-Terra Floor Tiles in public areas and toilet rooms
Mosa 10Thirty wall tiles in Toilet Rooms

Resilient flooring:
Dodge Regupol Inc. ECO Stone

Bentley Iconic

Raised flooring:

Reception furniture:
Custom cherry casework

Fixed seating:
Custom cherry benches in courtrooms

Custom cherry tables in courtrooms

Interior ambient lighting:
Prudential linear flourescent up/down pendant lights
Light Control cove lighting
Lumascape ingrade uplights

Gotham compact fluorescent downlights
Delrey industrial pendant mounted downlights
Jewel adjustable downlight

CustomCove rail light and steplights
Hydrel Ingrade lights

Thyssen-Krupp Hydraulic and Roped Hydraulic

Accessibility provision (lifts, ramping, etc.):