Best Idea Ever

It’s not uncommon that the topic of the Grand Staircase comes up when we’re visiting with family and friends.  Since we began our efforts they have found that our passion for this architectural treasure is contagious and frequently want to hear the latest news.

The other day while I was visiting with a friend at her kitchen table, her husband came into the room as we were discussing the staircase.

“You know,” he said, “When the staircase is reconstructed I’m going to need to buy a slinky.”

Best Idea Ever.



An important update…

In a previous post we shared that the folks from Hennebery Eddy Architects along with John Garlitz of J-U-B Engineers had begun the process of determining the condition of the Grand Staircase, the cause of its deterioration, what needs to happen next, and the approximate costs involved.

That work has been completed and Hennebery Eddy has shared their findings with EOU and others involved in efforts to save this architectural treasure.

As in often the case, a picture (or in this case a diagram) “is worth a thousand words”.  The one below (courtesy of Hennebery Eddy) illustrates the extent to which the Grand Staircase has deteriorated.   The areas in red indicate parts and pieces that are either missing or are in such severely damaged condition that they would need to be replaced.  Additionally, all of the other components would need some sort of intervention.

Staircase in red

One could say that the fate and longevity of the staircase were actually cast back in 1929.  Construction techniques and the quality of materials available at the time were no match for decades of freeze and thaw cycles (as well as other factors that contributed to the deterioration).

The Hennebery Eddy report indicates that restoration of the staircase would result in a longevity of less than 20 years.  As a result it has been determined that restoration is not a viable option.

However (and this is the good news!) reconstruction is.

How would that work?

3D laser scanning technology would be used to achieve a high level of accuracy.  Unit and material samples would be carefully salvaged to use in creating accurate molds and matching material appearances.  The design, setting, and feeling associated with the staircase would be preserved PLUS improvements to the site, structure, snow and water management, and material integrity would result in a Grand Staircase with an expected longevity of 100 years.

So, what happens next…?

Eastern Oregon University is currently actively exploring options for funding the reconstruction of the Grand Staircase.   As more information becomes available, we’ll keep you posted – both here and on the Facebook page.  These things do take time, however, so it is likely that we won’t have an update for some months.

In the meantime we will continue to share interesting tidbits about and photos and memories of our beloved “college steps”.

Thank you all for your interest in and response to our efforts.