The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at University of Oregon
Category: Design Excellence
This new campus at the University of Oregon shapes a dynamic ecosystem rooted in discovery, innovation, and education by gathering applied sciences, business innovation, and culture under one roof. The light-filled and highly flexible space dismantles boundaries and is ready to adapt to new directions quickly. The architecture of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact has also forged a new, forward-looking identity for the university, taking its cues from Oregon’s landscape and collaborative ethos in establishing a new gateway straddling the university and the city of Eugene.
The building is the first iteration in a new generation of research and education-focused buildings set to expand the scientific capacities of the university, and its design evokes the university’s interdisciplinary ideals. Situated across from a main arterial roadway from the university’s historic core, it’s the first phase of a larger vision for the university’s northern expansion. As such, the campus has functioned as a destination and gateway from the outset, promoting future development.
"This is a project that treats the care of living things with sensitivity and skill. The glazing brings ample light into the space and is bird friendly.” - Jury comment
Reinforcing the notion of community, the building’s massing comprises two L-shaped towers that create an elevated landscaped terrace. The terrace is joined by a transparent connector that provides acoustic protection from vehicular traffic and offers northern views of the nearby mountains. A transparent canopy spans the terrace to keep the elements at bay as students and faculty explore the outdoor space to relax, socialize, and connect with nature. Folded glass panels emulate water flowing over rock formations, a nod to Oregon’s rugged landscape, along the building’s southern facade. In addition, the panels control glare and thermal heat gain for the educational and research spaces within.
“This building is impressive at all scales and offers a variety of learning spaces,” said the jury. “It has an elegant material palette, and wood is integrated throughout in various building elements and ceiling forms that create a welcoming space for students in a scientific lab setting. This is a project that treats the care of living things with sensitivity and skill. The glazing brings ample light into the space and is bird friendly.”
Inside, the upper levels host unique double-height interdisciplinary research neighborhoods that foster collegial interaction and help merge experimental and computational research. Below, teaching laboratories and flexible learning spaces support the university’s graduate internship program and a new innovation center that positions the building as a community-focused institution ready to solve many of society’s most pressing issues.
Flexibility was one of the primary goals for the building, allowing campus leadership to shift its focus as society’s needs change. Currently, several of its research spaces have been supporting the state’s need to analyze COVID-19 tests. Last October, the state approved funding for a significant expansion of the university’s COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program, allowing it to purchase advanced equipment that has doubled the state’s testing capacity.