Looking around Eugene, one can see the obvious heritage of architectural ideas. There are domes, fluted pillars, arches, and many other styles that were originally conceived in the ancient world. The influence of Greece, Rome, and the Renaissance can be seen literally everywhere. One place these ideas come together is the fa ade of the Christian Church at 1166 Oak, between 11th and 12th Street.
The front of the building would make any citizen of ancient Athens feel at home. The wide steps rise up to the stately row of Doric columns, which support a beautiful cornice and pediment that could have been found on a temple in any Greek city-state. There is a sense of balance and harmony. Of course, a person from ancient Greece would wonder why the building is painted white, when all the statues and public buildings of his time were painted in vivid colors.
When the people in the Renaissance time revived the Greek and Roman ideas of architecture, they added to it the mathematics derived from Newton and Galileo. Because of the newfound knowledge, engineers could calculate the stress and strain that they put on pillars and domes. This allowed much more accurate building of large spaces. Therefore, it is not unusual to see a dome rising behind such a Greek fa ade like it does on the Oak Street church. Christopher Wren, the Renaissance designer of St. Paul s Cathedral in London, was one of the first to face the challenge of a large dome in the center of a church. The dome that is the main feature of the church in Eugene is following in this pattern.
It is interesting to speculate why this style of building was used on structures that have been built so long after the original impulse. I think that it is because the buildings like this church give an air of solidity and steadfastness in a hectic western town like Eugene, which has very little history of its own. Compared to the thousands of years that the Greeks and Roman buildings have stood, and even the hundreds of years since the Renaissance, a town with a history that is around a hundred and fifty years old seems very young. Borrowing ideas from the ancient world helps give Eugene a look that is enduring and aesthetically pleasing.
Obviously, the ideas of the ancient world are important in present day Eugene, but not without a uniquely northwest twist: the Christian Church on Oak Street is made completely out of wood.