Willie and Don Tykeson Hall at the University of Oregon
Client: University of Oregon
Institutional - Educational/Cultural- Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Tykeson Hall is the new interdisciplinary academic center for the University of Oregon designed by OFFICE 52 Architecture and realized with our project team. The LEED Gold project embodies a unique educational philosophy and evokes beautiful aspects of the Oregon region that reinforce a sense of community with an environmentally conscious mission. The design spatially integrates undergraduate academic curriculum with tutoring, mentoring and advising for a first-of-its-kind building on campus to provide aligned support for student success. Built upon a former surface parking lot, Tykeson Hall serves as a campus destination and transforms the area with a cohesiveness that strengthens internal and external connectivity with adjacent structures, pedestrian circulation and outdoor public gathering spaces.
“For those of us who get to experience Tykeson Hall as our work environment, I continue to feel privileged to work in such a beautiful building. I am awed at how a very forward-looking building design feels so connected to the place and who we are,” states Dr. Bruce Blonigen, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon.
The program for the 64,000 square foot building includes a new home for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Dean’s Office, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, University Career Center, Academic and Career Advising, as well as mathematics and writing tutoring areas, flexible state-of-the-art learning environments, classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, meeting rooms, and student-focused work spaces. Features include one 100-seat, two 70-seat, one 40-seat, and two 30-seat classrooms; one 24-seat seminar; two 24-seat tutoring spaces. Effective design concepts for classrooms and learning spaces highlight flexibility, adaptability and interactivity. Key to Tykeson Hall’s flexible program are 19 small meeting rooms distributed throughout the building to accommodate advising|mentoring or small group student team work as well as focused individual study. Amenities include a café, a light-filled central stair with interactive sound sculpture, and a ground floor public space called the Commons. It opens onto a new outdoor plaza and the Ellipse, a future outdoor (class)room and gathering space that accommodates various functions and social distancing requirements.
The spatial organization of the building in section and plan is based on Golden Section proportions, and the façade cladding systems are laid out on a one-, four-, and eight-foot modules. The massing of the building is conceptually organized into three interlocking forms with an overall external material palette appropriately related to internal program and spatial character: brick for state-of-the-art classrooms, terra cotta wrapping innovative program features, and glazing for the Commons.
An economically compact footprint and harmonious scale relating to nearby structures reinforces the new building’s contemporary architecture based on traditional campus materials – namely terra cotta and brick – with a focus on modern craftsmanship, detail and sustainability. This is the first campus building to incorporate terra cotta in 80 years, melding innovative performative façade cladding technology with a geometric color field of five custom glazes based on neutral regional landscape tones. A custom Norman Cross Bond brick pattern designed specifically for this project with locally sourced clay enhances the regional connection. Clay as a material is better from an energy and Co2 cost standpoint.
The creative process for clay panel finishing began by looking at the perception of light and color in large installations like Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musee de l’Orangerie as well as similar ethereal landscapes found in the Pacific Northwest. We completed a series of Oregon landscape paintings that formed the basis for the terra cotta color field that was accentuated by pre-fabricated clay panel geometry. The perception of the façade changes depending on solar position, with the matte-glazed panels subtly attracting the light in their own way and lending the architecture a corresponding dynamic.
Accentuating the interior of each of the five floors is a geographic color palette we designed to evoke an Oregon region: Coast (garden level), Oak prairie of the Willamette Valley (first floor), Douglas-fir forest (second floor), High desert (third floor), and Mountain alpine peak (fourth floor). A sense of transparency prevails throughout the building, featuring views and natural light with visual site lines amplifying the architecture. Two sectional design elements that connect all five floors – a large light well and central open stair – heighten this experience. Occupant circulation works in tandem with framed views that feature prominently throughout the building to reconnect occupants to the Willamette Valley campus landscape. This includes the Eugene Formation, a distinctive geological feature preserving Paleogene period fossils on the garden level discovered during construction.
Geography professor Andrew Marcus, who as the former CAS Dean was a prominent proponent of the Tykeson vision, states that the new Tykeson classroom in which he teaches “is a nicer room to teach in than any other I have experienced at the university. The layout makes it feel more like a 35-person class than a 70-person class; access is great for folks of all ability, chairs and tables are easily moved around, and the technology allows for subtle tweaks in lighting and audio that make it much easier to do everything from interactive student assignments to videos.”
The integration of architecture, art, sculpture and technology transforms the central stair with a dramatic spatial experience. “Reflectance Field ascending descending” by Narduli Studio is suspended in stair’s void. Both studios hold the mutual belief that this space amplifies the central place-making role of the stair as a physical and allegorical symbol of connection and community. Natural light enhances the space, and chosen materials of the architecture and installation work in tandem to accentuate aesthetic intent of the space. Narduli’s artwork is composed of individual ‘threads’ that form a collaborative musical instrument of chance-based sound sculpture. The installation was commissioned by the Oregon Arts Commission as part of the State of Oregon Percent for Art Program, which funded a multitude of artwork distributed throughout the building.
Sustainability is integral to the design with both high-tech and common-sense solutions. To uphold the university’s environmental commitment to sustainability, Tykeson Hall achieved LEED Gold certification and met the stringent energy goals of the Architecture 2030 Challenge with a total energy reduction of 77% and estimated use of 34% less energy than if built to the standard Oregon Energy Code. This is one of the first buildings in the Pacific Northwest to integrate post-tensioned concrete slab construction with a high efficiency hydronic system, exposed thermal mass, and active chilled beams. An exposed concrete building interior complements the warm character of Pin Oak wood salvaged from construction site trees for ceilings in select public spaces, and 89% of the construction waste was diverted to recycling plants.
Practical design strategies include operable windows, ceiling fans, abundant natural daylight, LED fixtures, daylight sensors, use of local materials to enhance comfort and regional connection, and low VOC materials. The high-performance glazing for the windows and curtain wall was locally made and assembled, and the central stair’s guardrails were locally fabricated with a woven stainless-steel mesh and powder coated steel frame. Highly efficient fixtures reduce potable water demand on local supplies by 38%, and new adaptive landscaping, roof terrace native vegetation, and drip irrigation systems decrease potable water use by 58%. The storm water from the roof collects in rain gardens to returns it to the aquifer. Enhanced connectivity with the adjacent Chapman Hall thrives due to a newly shared outdoor plaza and green space with a dynamic arrival sequence integrated into the existing master plan of open spaces and pedestrian/bicycle pathways.
OFFICE 52 Architecture led the spatial design of the building, and with Architect-of-Record Rowell Brokaw we worked with user groups, focus groups, and Campus Planning and Facilities Management to address complex site conditions and performance needs. Project Team: OFFICE 52 Architecture, RMA Studio, Brightworks, Fortis Construction, Rowell Brokaw, PLACE Landscape, KPFF Civil, Systems West MEP, Hohback Lewin Structural, Narduli STUDIO integrated artwork.
2021 Green Good Design Award, The Chicago Athenaeum (publication reprinted with permission)
2020 Fast Company Innovation by Design Award Honoree
2020 The Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Editors’ Pick
2020 Daily Journal of Commerce Top Projects Award (Architecture of Response Article)
2020 SARA NY Award
2019 Brick in Architecture Design Award
2020 Architectural Record | Material Matters
2019 The Architect’s Newspaper Facades+
Addressing Climate Change through Design
Cascade Magazine Feature
Materiality and the Art of Brick