Oregon State University’s Bexell Hall

Bexell Hall is a good example of the architecture in the Oregon State University (OSU) Historical District. The historic buildings in the middle of trees make a nice place to walk. The building is also close to the businesses on Monroe Avenue.


Bexell Hall is near many sights positioned in the heart of the OSU campus.

  • Campus Way
    • This road runs through the OSU campus. It is lined with historic buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. The campus way parking lot at 14th is a good place to start walking.
  • Fairbanks Art Gallery
    • Shows art by artists, faculty and students. Covers a wide range of mediums and kinds of art.
  • Monroe Avenue
    • The main business area next to campus. Has restaurants, bars and coffee shops if you want to eat or drink.
  • Memorial Union
    • The Memorial Union, known as the MU, is the social gathering spot on campus. It includes a coffee shop, seating and a cafeteria.


Bexell Hall was completed in 1922. It was designed by John Virginius Bennes. Bennes designed many buildings on the OSU campus.

The hall was originally called the Commerce Hall since it housed the School of Commerce. The hall was renamed in 1966 to Bexell for John A. Bexell. John A. Bexell was the founder and head of the School of Commerce from 1908 to 1931.

Bexell Hall housed the School of Commerce and later the College of Business until 2014. The College of Business moved to Austin Hall in 2014. Today Bexell Hall houses the College of Liberal Arts.


Bexell Hall uses a Neo-Renaissance design. Geometry and symmetry are important in Neo-Renaissance design. We can see this in the symmetrical layout of the windows in Bexell Hall.

Neo-Renaissance architecture was cothe mmon in the United States in the early 20th century. It is used in many buildings on OSU’s Corvallis campus.

Stories of Urban Life in 2020

2020 was a bad year for everyone. Disease covered the world. Economic disturbances took many peoples’ work and businesses. Social wrongs were shown again and again.

Streets were full of ideas to address these ills though. Roads were shut to cars for use as socially distanced walking and dinning spaces. Protestors took to the streets to call for changes to institutions like the police, social services and renting.

This urban read collects some of these stories of urban challenges and ideas to address them.

Urban Spaces and Design

Urban life was defined by COVID-19 in 2020. Social norms, rules and design of urban spaces were directed at responding to the disease.

Social Justice and the Economy

COVID-19 also directed public focus to social and economic ills. People answered by protesting and calling for changes to urban social institutions and norms.

Personal Stories

COVID-19 required social distance between people. It also turned people’s focus to the important people in their lives.

Parsons Gardens

Parson’s Garden on top of Queen Anne hill gives a quite spot to take it easy. The garden is on a loop that runs about the top of Queen Anne. The loop offers views of Seattle, Elliot Bay and the surrounding mountains.

Activities near Parsons Gardens

Parson’s Garden is on Highland Drive in Queen Anne. Queen Anne is the highest hill in Seattle at 456 feet (139 meters) above sea level. This gives the area great views of the Seattle area.

Some places to visit on Queen Anne include:

  • Kerry Park
    • From Parson’s Garden walk away from the water for four blocks. Kerry Park is on the right. Has a great view of downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier when clear.
  • Queen Anne Avenue and W. Galer Street
  • Queen Anne Loops
    • There is no trail around Queen Anne Hill. Many routes are available depending on how long you want to walk. Queen Anne Boulevard is a 6-mile road and pathway. Queen Anne is also a good place to walk public stairways.

History of Queen Anne

Humans have lived on Queen Anne for around 3000 years. The local Duwamish people had seasonal homes on Queen Anne. Europeans arrived on Queen Anne in the 1850s.

The hill is named for the Queen Anne style homes first created here in the 1880s and 1890s. Queen Anne architecture is a form of Victorian Architecture. Today almost no Queen Anne style homes remain.

Parson’s Garden was donated to Seattle in 1956. It was created by the Parson’s family for their home.

Style of Parsons Gardens

Parsons Gardens uses naturalism for its design. It create the sense of a forest clearing with a lawn at its middle. Trees and bushes rise around the lawn. The garden has a Japanese influence as many of the plants are from Japan such as Japanese Cherries, Hinoki Cedars and Azaleas.

Lake Union Houseboat

Seattle is lined by water. To the west is the Puget Sound and to the east is Lake Washington. Many boat based industries have been created along these shores. The Lake Union houseboats are the most unusual.


The Lake Union Houseboats are on the eastern and western sides of Lake Union. An easy way to see them is on the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop. This 6.2 mile trail runs around Lake Union.

Some sights on the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop are:


The first houseboats on Lake Union were made in the 1920s. They housed workers in the industries on Lake Union. Houseboats on Lake Union became common housing for Seattle’s poor when the Great Depression took place in the 1930s.

By the 1950s, the Lake Union Houseboats were seen as a slum. The city tried take away the houseboat’s harbors, but many houseboat owners fought the city. While the number of house boats on Lake Union was cut, some where allowed to tie up at harbors on Lake Union.

Today around 480 houseboats remain on Lake Union. They are a special part of Seattle’s urban fabric. You can see them from the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop, but you should not go into their private harbors.


Houseboats are a form of naval architecture. They must be nice places to live, and sea going boats. This leads to some special design limitations.

The first houseboats were on trees tied together. As time went on some had hulls.

Today most are built on concrete floats. These last longer and are more stable. This makes it possible to create more complex houseboats like the one in this week’s painting.

Eugene Oregon Autumn Skyline from Skinner’s Butte

The top of Skinner’s Butte has great views of the Eugene, Oregon skyline. The fall colors in this painting add to the view’s beauty. Skinner’s Butte is also right next to downtown Eugene’s many parks, stores and cafes.

Activities around Skinner’s Butte

Skinner’s Butte is in downtown Eugene. This makes it easy to get to food, theaters and hotels. Places to see near Skinner’s Butte are:

History of Skinner’s Butte

The Eugene area was the homeland of the Kalapuya people prior to the arrival of European settlers in the 1800s. The Kalapuya people where forced onto the Coast Reservation following treaties between 1851 and 1855.

The Kalapuya called the butte Ya-Po-Ah. The butte is currently named for Eugene Skinner. He built a house on the butte in 1846. The Skinner Butte Park opened in 1914.

A rock quarry operation ran on the north side of the butte from the 1890s to the 1930s. Today it is a popular rock climbing spot.

The Design of the Skinner’s Butte Area

Downtown Eugene uses a square based urban design. This comes from the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). The PLSS separates most of the United States into squares.

The PLSS is used to record land owners. Before the 1950s, the PLSS was also used to design towns and roads.

In this week’s view the area with lots of color was designed using the PLSS. The area past this is cul-de-sacs among Douglas Firs. Cul-de-sac design became common after the 1950s.

Seattle Chinese Garden

The Seattle Chinese Garden is a partnership between Seattle and its Chinese sister city Chongqing. The garden is special for using a southern Chinese garden design. It is also near to other gardening sights on the South Seattle College grounds.


The Seattle Chinese Garden is on the grounds of the South Seattle College. The college has a large horticulture program. It also supports community garden efforts like the Chinese Garden.

Other garden sites at the South Seattle College include:


Seattle and Chongqing became sister cities in 1983. Since then they have exchanged 200 missions sharing art, education, medicine and more.

Chongqing is a major city along the Yangtze River in southern China. It is important for its trade and industry. Chongqing is also one of the largest cities in the world with a population of 22 million people.

The Seattle Chinese Garden began in the late 1990s. Materials and a construction crew were sent to build the Song Mae Pavilion. In 2010 the Knowing the Spring Courtyard was completed.


In the United States Chinese Gardens are often treated as one type of design. Many Chinese Gardens in the United States are in cities where Chinese immigrants settled. This resulted in the United States’ Chinese Gardens using a city design style with many courtyards and walls.

China has a wide range of garden design styles though. The Seattle Chinese Garden is special for using a country estate garden style. The garden has a courtyard, but also has trails through bamboo groves and beds of peonies.

Woodland Park Rose Garden

The Woodland Park Rose Garden is a beautiful retreat from Seattle. The 2.5-acre garden has 200 different sorts of roses and uses organic gardening processes. It is also near the Woodland Park Zoo and Green Lake.


The Woodland Park Rose Garden is one of many sights in the Woodland Park. This makes Woodland Park a good area to spend a day in. Other things to see in and around Woodland Park are:


The city purchased the land for Woodland Park in 1899. They hired John Charles Olmsted to design the park in 1908. His design used existing buildings and sights created by the developer Guy Phinney in the late 1800s.

One of Olmsted’s suggestions was the creation of a rose garden. Approval was given to design the garden in 1922. The Woodland Park Rose Garden opened in 1924.

The Woodland Park Rose Garden was famous enough that it became an All-American Rose Selection test site in 1947. It lost this title in 2010 but still show cases organic gardening processes.


The Woodland Park Rose Garden uses a French Formal Garden design. This design type developed in the 1600s. It uses geometry to lay out the garden.

The French nobility liked formal gardens because of the importance they put on order. The most famous example of a French Formal Garden are the gardens at Versailles.

The Woodland Park Rose Garden uses geometric forms to lay out the rose beds. It also uses pruned hedges throughout the garden. These are important features of French Formal Gardens.

Linus Pauling Science Center

Linus Pauling was a leading chemical scientist and peace activist. He won Nobel Prizes in both areas. He graduated from Oregon State University (OSU) in 1922.

The Linus Pauling Institute moved to OSU in 1996. The Linus Pauling Science Center was completed to house the institute in 2011. This week’s image is of the Linus Pauling Science Center’s west side.


The Linus Pauling Science Center is in the northwest corner of the OSU grounds. This is near Monroe Avenue’s restaurants and bars. It is also a convenient place to park when walking to Bald Hill.

Some of the places to see on Monroe avenue are:


Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1954. He is famous for his work to bring together chemistry and quantum mechanics. Pauling also helped to start the study of biological chemistry.

Then Pauling won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. He protested the development of nuclear weapons starting in the 1940s. In the 1960s, Pauling also joined peace protests against the Vietnam War.

What Pauling is best known for today is Vitamin C though. He wrote a book claiming Vitamin C could cure colds in 1970. This led to the popularity of Vitamin C as a cold treatment.

Later studies have shown that Vitamin C is not an effective remedy for colds though. The Linus Pauling Institute continues researching the impact of nutrition on health though.


The Linus Pauling Science Center was built using a neomodern design. This is a perfect design for a science building. The well-ordered facade gives a sense of logic. The brick work and plantings soften the angles though.

Neomodernism is a continuation of modernism. It developed in the late 1990s in response to Post-Modernism. Neomodern designs are popular in current public and corporate buildings.

These designs use the simple lines and limited decoration of modernism. They also use new materials and technologies like computer drafting though. The result is what some people call the Apple Store look.

Seattle’s Georgetown Neighborhood

Georgetown sits in the middle of Seattle’s industrial area. Today the area is know for its arts, breweries and history. The neighborhood is also full of beautiful buildings from the early 20th century.


Many Seattle breweries started in Georgetown. The neighborhood is also known for its arts scene and historic sites. Some important locations include:

  • Elysian Brewing
    • The most well known brewery in Georgetown.
  • Fantagraphics Books
    • The bookstore for Seattle’s indie comic book publisher.
  • All City Coffee
    • A fun spot to warm up at.
  • Telephone Museum
    • See telephones from throughout history and how they work.
  • Hat and Boots
    • A large pair of cowboy boots and a hat that were part of a hotel on highway 99 in Georgetown. They were moved to Oxbow Park when the hotel was removed.


Georgetown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seattle. The first European town in the Georgetown area was founded in 1851. The Europeans decided to move to what is now downtown Seattle in 1852 though. Georgetown became a part of Seattle in 1910.

The area became an important hub for industry and trade. Georgetown is close to the Duwamish River. This made it easy to move lumber from the area around Georgetown to Seattle.

There were also farms in the Duwamish valley around Georgetown. The farms sent their produce through Georgetown to Seattle. The boats were replaced with trains in the 1870s.

The area’s beer brewing industry developed because hops were grown in the local farms. The area also had a large German population. Georgetown eventually became one of the largest beer producing areas in the world.


Georgetown has kept most of its buildings from when it was built up in the early 20th century. The business areas mostly have industrial buildings built of brick. This gives the neighborhood a rough look while also feeling welcoming.

Sketch Review: Between Gears by Natalie Nourigat

In Between Gears, we watch Natalie Nourigat as she completes her last year at the University of Oregon. It is a sweet story of changing from one life stage to another. And we get a look into life in Eugene, Oregon.

The story is made up of a comic recording each day of the year. These records run from September 17, 2009 to June 14, 2010. Nourigat originally posted these on a blog. You can purchase them in book form though.

Eugene Locations

I liked the story since I graduated from the University of Oregon too. Nourigat goes to several important places for college students.

Rennie’s and Taylor’s

The social life of the university is focused on the many bars and coffees houses close to campus. With so many it can be hard to choose which one to go to.

Nourigot’s social trips mostly take place in two bars across the street from the university grounds called Rennie’s and Taylor’s. They are dive bars that are popular with locals. They give out lots of fried food and beer for a low price.

Chapman Hall

drawing of main entrance to Chapman Hall

Chapman Hall is the home of the Honors College. Nourigat spends a lot of time here as she writes an honor’s thesis.

University of Oregon Quad

The university quad is important in Nourigats’s story because Chapman Hall and the library are on the quad. This puts the quad in the middle of Nourigat’s story.

Amtrak Station

Over holidays the Amtrak Station is full of students traveling home. I was happy to see that Nourigat include the station. She travels home to Portland several times in Between Gears on the train.

Student Life in Eugene

I also like Nourigat’s way of showing life in Eugene though. In many ways life as a student is limited and full of small joys.

Nourigat shows the limitations of student life on the first page with a large part of Eugene marked as uncharted in the book’s map. We also see this in Nourigat’s focus on a small number of locations.

Most of the story takes place on the University of Oregon Memorial quad. Nourigat did an honors thesis and is at Chapman Hall a lot since it is the home of the honors college. The main university library is also on the Memorial Quad.

We also see times of happiness too. This is shown nicely when Nourigat finds a sunny balcony at Friendly Hall at the start of the story. Similar scenes are throughout the story.

A section where Nourigat sees a comic book show at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art was fun. We see Nourigat’s excitement for her craft and her reason for making comics.


The story ends suddenly. Nourigat completes her thesis and graduates in two weeks. She then goes with her mom on a road trip to San Francisco.

This left me feeling that the story had not ended. So, I was happy to see that Nourigat has written several autobiographical graphic novels since Between Gears came out in 2010. I look forward to reading them.