The Ellipse 

Client: University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, Oregon

Campus outdoor learning and community space

 

The Ellipse is a defined outdoor space for learning and university events. It is also simply a space for students and faculty to take a break between classes or move through from one class to another.

The seemingly simple design composition consists of three ellipses that have been rotated around a center point. This genius composition allows for the space relate to the surrounding buildings Tykeson Hall and Chapmann hall as well as existing walkways.  It also provides the space with a dynamic quality.

The brilliance of the composition came in no small part from OFFICE 52 Architects, who acted as the prime consultant for the project.  Collaboration between OFFICE 52 Architects and LandCurrent was comprehensive and exceptional with all designers improving on the quality of the project every step of the way.

The Ellipse is located adjacent to the historic quad on the university campus. The historic quad is regarded as the most important campus space, because of this, university leadership was unusually invested in the design of the Ellipse. Interest in the space further increased when the pandemic started in 2020 and the need for outdoor classrooms became very apparent.   

The ellipse incorporates several opportunities for outdoor classrooms of various sizes. The seat walls step down with the sloping site but are always a comfortable sitting height as well as a suitable height for transferring from a wheelchair. The space also allows for wheelchair seating adjacent to the seating walls and benches.

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The center lawn acts as a stormwater filter and was sodded with drought-tolerant fescue grass. The remainder lawns are drought tolerant and include clover. Plantings consist of sedge grasses and native camas flowers. Around the outer ellipse existing mature trees are preserved and under-planted with daffodils. During the early spring months, the blooming daffodils frame the ephemeral outer ellipse. Daffodil blooming is followed by the bloom of native camas.

Team

University of Oregon (owner), OFFICE 52 Architecture (architect), LandCurrent (landscape architect), KPFF (civil engineer), Michael Thrailkill (specifications), and Fortis Construction, Inc. (general contractor). Photography by Isaac Campbell, Michelle LaFoe, Jasper Zhou and Liska Chan.