Having a look at the new John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes at the University of Oregon the Portland based Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects recently unveiled, it seems that the times when ‘studying’ stood for antique autitoriums and dusty libraries are over.
The relation to the local environment was one of the major intentions of the architectural concept. The completely glazed facade provides an uninterrupted visual connection between internal rooms and the surrounding landscape. The classy interior architecture is characterised by a minimal materials palette which relates to the Pacific Northwest region.
“The notion of a fertile, natural environment to invigorate and inspire learning was the premise on which the design concept was based. The glass structure rests on a “table of water” and a birch forest celebrates the region’s natural environment. A “double wall” façade addresses acoustic isolation, thermal insulation, and control of available daylight within the building. The walls consist of five elements that create a dynamic response to orientation while reinforcing the concepts of transparency and connectivity. A prismatic, vertical stainless steel screen within this façade provides shading, thermal comfort, and ability for heat harvesting (which reinforces the natural convection within the vessel) as well as visual privacy for the inhabitants. The glazed façade and interior spaces are composed on a rigorous module to achieve an uninterrupted visual connection between internal rooms and the larger garden beyond. The reflectivity of the glass and water obscure the boundary between the building and surrounding landscape.”
“Authenticity to the University of Oregon student experience was a key design driver. As is the celebration of the success of student-athletes in the pursuit of knowledge and athletic achievement. An atrium forms the “heart” of the building. The atrium walls are infused with graphic displays that relay the heritage of athletics at the University. It also includes a scoreboard-inspired wall listing upcoming tutorial appointments for student-athletes.
Through the seamless integration of art, environmental graphics and architecture, the facility serves as a pantheon of student athletic achievements. For example, the “A Few Who Just Did It” wall celebrates the post-graduate academic achievements of notable former student-athletes, including the faces of author Ken Kesey, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and Ann Bancroft (the first woman to cross both the North and South Poles), engraved in 8×8 square oak blocks.
On another atrium wall, a three-story mural is constructed of 10,000 small 3×3 photos of student-athletes acid-etched onto stainless steel and assembled in a large-scale pixilated pattern such that Albert Einstein’s face emerges when viewed from a distance. This mural depicts the life of student athletes at the University, dating the building as circa 2009 when the photos were captured.
Other elements include floor engravings of Academic All-American honorees, a color and sandblasted glass wall celebrating PAC-10 All Academic recipients and stair well that contains the names of more than 4,000 lettermen that graduated from the University between 1945 and 2009.”
“Many of the building exhibits will continue to evolve over time. In one example, the atrium lounge displays the Emerald, Jackson and Higdon awards. These awards are given by the University each year to top student-athletes in the area of scholastic ability, community service and sportsmanship. They were redesigned in cast bronze by contemporary Spanish artist Rosa Serra; she is renowned for her internationally-exhibited sculptures and Olympic art. Her collection was displayed at the Barcelona Olympics and now is housed in Lucerne at the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters. These University awards provide a stunning display for visitors to interact with current and past winners.
The materials palette is intentionally minimal to express the notion of authenticity and relate to the Pacific Northwest region. It includes exposed concrete and Oregon white oak. The layering of color and graphics infused through the building offers texture and visual interest. Discovery is a big part of the experience for building users and visitors. For example, the tile pattern in the men’s and women’s restrooms on the ground floor is the visual representation of the sound wave file from the Oregon Duck’s football public address announcer who starts every football game with “It never rains in Autzen Stadium.” The floor in the elevator is engraved with Oregon slogans like “I love my ducks!” and the leather handrail in the elevator has the words to the Oregon fight song.”
ZGF Architects LLP
Design Team: Larry Bruton, John Breshears, Dieneke Kniffin, Rich Moore, Erica Rinella, Lee Kilbourn, Brian Stevens, Ryan Thomson, Robert Petty, Jonah Ross
Client: University of Oregon
Gene Sandoval, Design Partner
Randy Stegmeier, Principal Interior Architect [Firm 151]
Jan Willemse, Technical Design Partner
Robert Snyder, Project Manager
Jennifer Russina/Walker Templeton/Yoshiyuki Wantanabe, Project Designers
Jenn Ward, Interior Architect [Firm 151]
Trent Thelen, Landscape Architect, “The Green”
Man Hui Chan, Graphic Designer
Contractor: Hoffman Construction Company
to the Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects profile @ Architonic