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University of Oregon Knight Campus Breaks Ground

March 16, 2018
Phase one of the project consists of a pair of four-story, 75,000-square-foot, L-shaped buildings and a pedestrian bridge featuring a symmetrical arched butterfly design. Courtesy Bora/Ennead
The two buildings are joined by a lightweight, translucent canopy, underneath which is an elevated terrace. Courtesy Bora/Ennead
Double-height research floors allow for a floating mezzanine designed with cross-laminated timber, which will hold faculty offices. Courtesy Bora/Ennead

As University of Oregon students hit the books this spring term, shovels hit the dirt for the first phase of the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, which broke ground March 2 in Eugene, Oregon. Working in collaboration between its Seattle and New York offices, Thornton Tomasetti is providing structural, bridge and façade engineering services to New York-based Ennead Architects, the design architect, and Portland-based Bora, the architect of record, for the project. The facilities are named for Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike and an UO alumnus, and his wife, Penny, who donated $500 million toward the $1-billion science campus.

Designed to fast-track scientific discoveries and innovation, the flexible building program consists of interdisciplinary research laboratories, shared research cores, innovation laboratories and applied graduate teaching. It will have approximately 300 full-time research staff, including top-tier scientists and their support staff as well as 550 undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral researchers.

Located in a highly seismic region, the steel and concrete buildings feature a double-glass exterior, steel penthouses, mezzanine floors designed with cross-laminated timber and a 120-foot-long, cable-supported canopy connecting the two facilities. The laboratory floors are designed to house equipment that is especially vibration sensitive.

The buildings’ southern façades consist of glass panels designed to emulate cascading water, while the north elevation features a transparent glass curtain wall system that reveals the buildings’ structure. A bridge designed by Thornton Tomasetti’s special structures group will connect the new facilities to the core campus, passing over the university’s busiest thoroughfare, Franklin Boulevard. A self-supporting spanning element, the bridge features a symmetrical arched butterfly design. It consists of two splayed arches extending from a common support point on each side of the boulevard. The bridge enclosure is supported by cables connected to the floor structure.

The campus was designed with input from a building user group made up of scientists, researchers, architects, and construction experts, who explored research facilities across the United States for insight into what makes for a truly interdisciplinary space. The phase one buildings are scheduled to open in 2020. The yet-to-be-designed phase two will add a 65,000-square-foot building, completing the 3-acre scientific research campus.