ZGF Architects - The John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes at the University of Oregon Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 09:03

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The John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes at the University of Oregon explores the limits of transparency and connectivity to provide the UO’s student-athletes a place to gather as a community focused on study and learning. The challenge of creating a tranquil environment where students feel connected to natural landscape elements and daylight was heightened by the chosen  location: a busy intersection between campus and the city of Eugene, on the site of a former parking lot at one of the major campus entrances.
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The site’s visual prominence led to the building designed with four public facades and no ‘back door,’ which has reinforced its importance within the landscape as an iconic element. “The Jaqua Center,” as it has become known, uses a series of creative innovations in the design of the building envelope and the surrounding landscaping in support of resolving the challenges of the site, all while addressing and leveraging opportunities within existing state energy policies and state regulations.

Program

This new 40,000 SF state-of-the-art academic learning center accommodates the NCAA-mandated academic services for the tutoring of 520 student athletes. It contributes to the retention and success of these athletes as well as the recruitment of new athletes, replacing the 8,000 SF Mac Court Annex where these services were previously housed.

The first floor of the building is open to the public with a café, auditorium, atrium for public events and heritage space that recognizes past, present and future student athletes at the University. The first floor also includes staff offices and shared tutor areas for student-athlete/general student body group sessions. The two floors above are for the exclusive use of Oregon’s student-athletes and staff and require secure access. The facility includes a 114-seat auditorium, 35 tutor rooms, 25 faculty/advising offices, conference room, flexible classroom, computer lab with 54 computer stations, graphics lab, 3 teaching labs, library, separate lounges for students, tutors and staff, and 40 study carrels configured to accommodate two student-athletes per carrel, enough for all freshmen. The site also includes 34 metered parking spots for building visitors, with LED lighting and white parking “stripes,” formatted like the yard lines on a football field.
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Donor

The facility is the result of a generous gift from Phil and Penny Knight to encourage academic achievement along with athletic performance. The building is named after John E. Jaqua, who was a varsity athlete at Pomona College, war hero, successful farmer, revered lawyer, founding board member of Nike, adored father/grandfather and longtime supporter of the University of Oregon. Jaqua’s legacy is meant to awaken every generation to look itself in the eye and be the best it can be, and his namesake represents a challenge to student-athletes to fulfill their promise.

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Donor recognition in the facility is subtly treated, as names are etched into glass on an entry wall panel. These names are only visible to viewers who stand in front the wall, which is on a motion sensor. Names disappear when viewers are away.

Design Concept

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.
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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. Jacqua-Academic-center-15

Interior: capturing the experience

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 8x8 square oak blocks.

On another atrium wall, a three-story mural is constructed of 10,000 small 3x3 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. Jacqua-Academic-center-11 Jacqua-Academic-center-07

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.

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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.

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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.

Directly off the entrance to the atrium is the café, which features a four-sided gas fireplace surrounded by a leather lounge seat suggesting the shape of the University’s signature “O.” The café welcomes the public seven days a week and serves coffee, sodas, pastries, pizzas and sandwiches (with many named in honor of former University athletes). On the far side of the atrium is the auditorium/lecture hall, which contains 114 leather chairs, in Oregon’s signature yellow, each individually wired for power and Internet capabilities.

An auditorium wall features an aluminum screen bearing the names of outstanding faculty award winners, chosen on the recommendations of students and fellow colleagues. Each year the Ersted Award is given to three distinguished teachers early in their career. And the Thomas F. Herman Awards is presented to faculty members who have demonstrated a long standing excellence in teaching. These names are backlit by an undulating LED lighting system constantly shifting from green to yellow, yellow to green.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 10:47
 
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