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John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes | Notes of Interest

The bright and lively John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes at the University of Oregon is an awakened, dazzling space that—through its design and aesthetics-emphasizes the value of academic and professional achievements to its athletic audience.

This new 40,000-square-foot, 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.

The chosen location for the project is a busy intersection between campus and the city, on the site of a former parking lot at one of the major campus entrances. As a result of this location, a challenge arose for how to create a tranquil environment where students could feel connected to natural landscape elements and daylight. To respond to this, the architect utilizes and explores the limits of transparency and connectivity to provide student-athletes a place to gather as a community focused on study and learning. The site’s visual prominence led to the building being designed with four public facades and no 'back door,' which has reinforced its importance within the landscape as an iconic element.

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. A prismatic, vertical stainless steel screen within this façade provides shading, thermal comfort, and ability for heat harvesting 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. This incredibly complex exterior wall system contributes to the feel of stimulation and brightness, while most importantly providing notable strides in sustainability.

In addition to the design aesthetic of a flowering, natural, vibrant environment of learning, another key design driver for all of the interior spaces was authenticity to the University student experience. Employment of the University’s color (yellow) and signature "O" appeared throughout the design in elements like fireplaces, lecture seating and lounge details.

Through the seamless integration of art, environmental graphics and architecture, the facility serves as a pantheon of student athletic achievements. The use of exhibits throughout the building work to emphasize achievements of an academic nature and contributions to the university, both athletic and non-athletic. One exhibit is a compilation of bronzed awards, given by the University each year to top student-athletes in the area of scholastic ability, community service, and sportsmanship. Another exhibit, "A Few Who Just Did It," is a wall celebrating 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.

The facility includes a 114-seat auditorium; 35 tutor rooms; 25 faculty/advising offices; a conference room; a flexible classroom; a computer laboratory with 54 computer stations; a graphics laboratory, 3D teaching laboratories; a 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 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.

Enlightenment in all its forms is present in this glorious project: the glittering outer wall, the connection with nature, the plentiful daylight, and even the stimulation of thought. It is a lively example of the power of design. Here, it caters to the Oregon student experience while paying homage to academic achievements—both present and past—and motivating its inhabitants to strive for great things.

Additional Credits

  • General Contractor: Hoffman Construction Company
  • Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers, Inc. (Structural); Interface Engineering (MEP); Arup (facade); Harper Houf Peterson Righellis, Inc. (civil)
  • Artists and Craftspeople: Rosa Serra; Basil Childers; Bob Lambie; Lamer Woodworking; Tice Industries
  • Photo Credit: © Basil Childers

John E. Jaqua Center for Student Athletes

Jury Comments

Beautifully detailed throughout…Remarkable introduction of color and management of natural light. The atmosphere is comfortable yet stimulating, with furnishings that are highly functional yet inviting and uniquely designed.

Athletics and Education are purely stated here. This facility’s integration of diverse and defined spaces, of glass and daylight for engaging learning, of wood for warmth and strength, and with effective graphics celebrating its graduates’ post-graduate achievements creates a design whose goals are transparent.

2011 Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture Jury

  • John Ronan, AIA, (Chair)
  • John Ronan Architects
  • Chicago
  • Jaime Canaves, FAIA
  • Florida International University-
  • School of Architecture
  • Miami
  • Margaret Kittinger, AIA
  • Beyer Blinder Belle Architects
  • New York City
  • Brian Lewis
  • The Capital Group Companies
  • Irvine, Calif.
  • Brian Malarkey, AIA
  • Kirksey
  • Houston

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