Bora | Ennead Team Unveils Design for University of Oregon’s Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact

by Ashley Cartmel

Today the Bora | Ennead team unveiled the design for the University of Oregon’s Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.  The Knight Campus is made possible by a $500 million lead gift from Penny and Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, who earned a business degree at the UO in 1959. The $1 billion project is also supported with $50 million in state bonds.

This ambitious effort aspires to dramatically shorten the timeline between discovery and societal impact through world-class research, training and entrepreneurship in a nimble scientific enterprise. Groundbreaking is scheduled for February 2018 on the $225-million, 160,000-square-foot first with an anticipated opening date in early 2020.

The Bora | Ennead design for the first phase of the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact reflects and enhances the university’s forward-thinking mission, establishing an iconic identity for the new endeavor meant to inspire the next generation of innovators. The design features two L-shaped towers that face each other to cradle an elevated terrace and courtyard and are joined above by a transparent connector. On the southern façade, a skin of folded glass panels emulates water cascading over rock formations and provides shading for the building’s interior. Counterbalancing the activity of the public facing façade, the northern sides of the two towers, which fold into the courtyard and terrace, embrace simplicity in an unadorned glass curtain wall system that reveals the building structure. The design emphasizes transparency – exposing the impact of science to the community.

The exterior terrace is protected from rainfall by a lightweight, translucent canopy whose pattern hints at the triangulated cascading façade. At the ground floor level, glass storefronts under deep overhangs invite passers-by to approach, while at each of the main entry points, embossed stainless steel walls reflect light from adjacent water features, referencing the nearby Willamette River.

On each floor there are four research neighborhoods organized around a central courtyard. Double height research floors allow for a floating faculty office mezzanine, offering an opportunity for greater interdisciplinary exchange. Inviting spaces will encourage collaboration among researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields. The building program is intended to be hyper-flexible so that research groups can shift focus depending on where discoveries lead, and will include innovation spaces, collaborative spaces, core labs, research labs and work areas.

Central to the Knight Campus design is an enclosed pedestrian bridge across Franklin Boulevard, connecting the core campus to the new district, making an elegantly impactful announcement of the campus to those passing by. An arched butterfly design, the bridge is a self-supporting spanning element that is simple, light and symmetrical. It features two splayed arches springing from a common support point on each side of the boulevard and uses tension cables to support the bridge enclosure at its floor structure.

The Bora | Ennead partnership is a strategic alliance of two firms, both of which are award-winning designers of academic and research buildings in their own rights.  Ennead is responsible for the Knight Campus’ design, and Bora, as the Architect-of-Record, will be responsible for overall project management and execution.  Together we bring experience in the design of iconic buildings and innovative research environments. We share important values, believing in the power of human-centered architecture to invigorate scientific communities in search of new discoveries.

For more information about this project, visit the University of Oregon’s website