Campus of the University of Oregon

Map of the campus
Main sign at the Agate Street entrance to the University.

The campus of the University of Oregon is located in Eugene, Oregon and includes some 80 buildings and facilities, including athletics facilities such as Hayward Field, which was the site of the 2008 Olympic Track and Field Trials, and McArthur Court, and off-campus sites such as nearby Autzen Stadium and the Riverfront Research Park. An online guide to the university's built environment, Architecture of the University of Oregon, published by the University of Oregon Libraries, describes campus buildings and provides timelines of key architectural events linked with campus history.


Inception Era (1876–1913)[1]

A view of Deady Hall soon after construction. Image courtesy of the Oregon State Library.

The campus opened in Eugene on October 16, 1876, in an 18-acre former wheat field purchased from Reverend J. H. D. Henderson. Henderson's land had been part of Hilyard Shaw's original donation land claim. Work on the first campus building, named Deady Hall in 1893, would not yet be completed until 1877, and school began on the building's first floor with hammering noise and other carpenter sounds coming from the floors above. Judge Joshua J. Walton, organizer of the Union University Association, the organization responsible for bringing the university to Eugene, kept his cattle on the property even after classes began. Judge Walton later erected a fence to separate his cattle from the students. The campus had no sidewalks, only two oak trees, and a great quantity of mud.[2][3]

Financial difficulties had dogged the university since before opening day, and in 1881 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the campus could be sold to pay the debts of the university. The court also found that the conveyance of campus property from the Union University Association to the university's board of directors in 1873 and then to the Board of Regents in 1876 was made with intent to defraud the university's creditors.[4] Henry Villard, president of the Northern Pacific Railway, averted the sale of the campus by paying many of the debts himself, and he later established a $50,000 endowment. The university's second building, Villard Hall, was constructed in 1886 and named in honor of the first benefactor.[5]

Some old-campus buildings are visible in this view of the first American football game played at the University of Oregon on March 24, 1894. Villard Hall and Deady Hall are in the upper left, and the gymnasium is in the distance behind Deady Hall. Friendly Hall and Collier House are in the upper right. The football field is roughly on the site of the modern Lillis Business Complex and the Computing Center. Kincaid Street is in the foreground, and the lines of 13th Avenue are along the right. Image courtesy of the Oregon Daily Emerald.

Other surviving buildings from the inception era, sometimes called the old-campus era, include a dormitory and a library. Constructed in 1893 and named in 1915 for Sampson H. Friendly, an early donor and founding member of the Board of Regents, Friendly Hall began as a dormitory but was converted into classrooms in 1928. Although the university library had been housed in various locations, a library building was constructed in 1906 and named in 1938 for a donor, Judge William D. Fenton, shortly after being remodeled to house the law school.

Buildings in the area of the old campus were arranged around the Old Campus Quadrangle, an informal space with natural vegetation and sidewalks located along the approximate lines of earlier boardwalks.

The university purchased Collier House from physics professor George Collier in 1896. The house had been constructed in 1886, shortly before Villard Hall, and became the second oldest building on campus. The purchase of Collier House included a barn that was converted to classroom space and used as an observatory. Additionally, the house came with 9.5 acres of land which enabled the campus to expand south of 13th Avenue.[6] A brief description of Collier and his property, including mention of other members of the historic university community, was prepared by Friends of the Eugene Masonic Cemetery.[7]

Preservation has not always been a policy on campus, and sometimes the needs of expansion have caused destruction. Former buildings in the old campus area include McClure Hall, the Gymnasium, and Mechanical Hall, although Mechanical Hall has been partly preserved as a corner of Lawrence Hall.

The old-campus era ended in the second decade of the 20th century when it became evident that the university needed a campus planner.

Lawrence/Cuthbert Era (1914–1946)

Ellis F. Lawrence joined the university in 1914 as the campus planner, and in that year he prepared the first campus master plan. The plan was based on a formal design of buildings around a quadrangle. Where the Old Campus Quadrangle had been a casual collection of buildings designed by several architects, Lawrence quadrangles were open spaces with elements of formal gardens. And notably, Lawrence would design the buildings as agreed in his contract with the university. In 1915 he became the university's architect, and he founded the architecture school. Between 1916 and 1937, Lawrence designed and built 25 buildings at the university.[8] Lawrence arrived during a time of Gothic Revival architecture on some college campuses. It was fashionable to design campus buildings in the style of the University of Oxford, making them seem historic. Historian John Thelin observed, "The newer the campus was, the older it appeared to be."[9]

A view of Hendricks Hall in the Women's Memorial Quadrangle. To the left is the Mary Spiller House, a dormitory that was destroyed in 1951 to open that area of campus to formal landscaping. Image courtesy of the Oregon State Library.

But Lawrence resisted the copy-Oxford fashion, and he designed in a variety of other styles, often influenced by his Beaux-Arts training. And he combined styles with ease. The style of the campus library, later named the Knight Library, was listed as "Beaux Arts Eclecticism" on its NRHP nomination form.[10][11]

A quote from the NRHP nomination form prepared for the art museum, later named the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, indicates that the structure combined many styles and was difficult to classify:

Stylistically, the museum is somewhat of an enigma. Contemporary reports called it Romanesque. A 1974 survey referred to it as Modernistic. Professor Marion Ross of the Art History department of the University of Oregon discussed its relationship to Romanesque, Gothic, Islamic, and Modernistic architecture and to Victorian eclecticism of taste. He concluded it was Eclectic modified with North Italian Romanesque.[12]

Two of Lawrence's quadrangles, the Memorial Quadrangle[13] and the Women's Memorial Quadrangle,[14] are listed on the NRHP along with buildings as contributing resources.

Frederick A. Cuthbert joined the university in 1932 as the landscape architect. Later he would head the landscape architecture department. In 1940, Cuthbert designed formal entrance gates to the university, including a motorway that would lead visitors past the old campus area to the new Memorial Quadrangle. Although the motorway was not constructed, the Dad's Gates were completed and have NRHP site designation.[15][16] Cuthbert is credited with the X and O patterns in the Memorial Quadrangle.

More than any other planners, Lawrence and Cuthbert defined the campus of the University of Oregon. A recent survey of 21 landscapes found that 14 were significantly influenced by the Lawrence/Cuthbert era.[17] Visitors to campus sometimes remark that the era is characterized by beautiful outdoor spaces and architectural harmony.

Mid-century Era (1947–1974)

After World War II, enrollment at the university dramatically increased, partly because of a federal education subsidy known as the G.I. Bill, and the mid-century era is partly characterized by dormitory construction. Where the previous era had relied upon the design skills of a single architect trained in the Beaux-Arts style, the new era awarded contracts to many architects. A predominant style, however, was European Modernism with its simple forms and absence of decoration. Landscaping became more complex in the decentralized planning process.[18]

The campus added new science buildings during this era to keep up with demand for increasingly technical degree programs, and with increased attendance at football games, Autzen Stadium opened in 1967, shifting the football program away from Hayward Field and off campus.

The Oregon Experiment

The university is known for being the site of a pioneering participatory planning experiment known as the Oregon Experiment (which is also the subject of a book of the same name). The two major principles of the project are that buildings should be designed, in part, by the people who will ultimately use them (usually with the help of an 'architect facilitator'), and that construction should occur over many small projects (as opposed to a few large ones).

List of Buildings

The list of buildings divides the campus into regions and identifies most structures of interest on and off campus. Buildings that have been removed and single-family residential structures are not included. Whenever possible, a discussion of proper names and the year of construction are listed.

Atlas of Trees

A European yellow ash, Fraxinus excelsior aurea, listed in Knapp as 56F3 and in the Atlas as FREXA. Tragically, the tree was lost to expansion when construction began on the Miller Theatre Complex.

The university community has a longstanding interest in campus trees. A "Biological Map of the University of Oregon Campus" was prepared in 1913. The map placed each tree in proximity to buildings and streets in the area of the old campus.[19]

In 1975 a former landscape architecture student, Kenneth W. Knapp, published an inventory of trees on campus. The work featured a numerical, abbreviated coding system offered by George Carroll, a professor of biology, that included the family, genus, and species of each tree on campus. The work also identified each tree on an indexed set of 53 campus maps provided by the Physical Plant, a forerunner of Campus Operations. Carroll suggested that 59 families of trees could exist in the campus climate, and Knapp identified trees from a subset of 40 families already growing on campus.[20] Knapp's research was important for two reasons. The placement and nurture of campus trees had already become central to the emerging pattern language of campus planning, a critical part of the Oregon Experiment. But Knapp's work also developed an early framework for more extensive uses.

In the 1990s, campus planners developed a new inventory of trees. They adopted an alphabetical coding system practiced by the International Association for Plant Taxonomy. They also created a database to include all available information about individual trees. They found 71 families of trees, 537 species, and 3908 individual specimens located across 117 campus maps. Parts of the database were published as the University of Oregon Atlas of Trees in 1996. The work was digitized from a second edition published in 2006 and is available online.[21]


The following is a list of important dates and events leading to the creation of the buildings present on the University campus today.

19th century

1900 to 1909


Administration Building circa 1920


The firm Lawrence & Holford designed all University buildings in the 1920s.








21st century

See also


  1. The division of campus history into specific eras was borrowed from the University of Oregon Campus Heritage Landscape Plan
  2. Crafts, Fred (January 8, 1967). "University Town". Eugene Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon: Guard Publishing. pp. Emerald Empire 3–5. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  3. Peting, Donald (2001). "The Building: Constructing Deady Hall". Oregon Historical Quarterly. Oregon Historical Society. 102 (4): 492–5. JSTOR 20615186.
  4. Dunn, et al, vs. The University of Oregon, Reports of Cases Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon, 9 T. B. Odeneal (Oregon Supreme Court March, 1881).
  5. Force, Rebecca (2001). "Gambling on Higher Education: A History of the Founding of the University of Oregon". Oregon Historical Quarterly. Oregon Historical Society. 102 (4): 500–8. JSTOR 20615186.
  6. Imondi, Ryan (February 24, 2011). "Collier House celebrates 125th year as intriguing campus landmark". Oregon Daily Emerald. Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  7. "The University of Oregon and the Cemetery" (PDF). Eugene Masonic Cemetery. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  8. "Lawrence / Cuthbert Era (1914 - 1946)". Heritage Landscape Plan. University of Oregon. Archived from the original on October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  9. Thelin's book, A History of American Higher Education, was quoted by Robinson Meyer in an article printed in The Atlantic. Meyer, Robinson (September 11, 2013), "How Gothic Architecture Took Over the American College Campus", The Atlantic, archived from the original on October 27, 2013, retrieved October 27, 2013
  10. "NRHP Nomination Form" (PDF). National Park Service. March 9, 1990. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  11. Architecture and Allied Arts Librarian Edward Teague presented a 75th Anniversary lecture on the library in 2012.Teague, Edward (November 21, 2012). Ghosts of Knight: A Closer Look at the Artisans and Architects Who Crafted the Depression Era Masterpiece (MP4). Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon.
  12. "NRHP Nomination Form" (PDF). National Park Service. June 9, 1986. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  13. "NRHP Nomination Form: Knight Library" (PDF). National Park Service. March 9, 1990. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  14. "NRHP Nomination Form: Women's Memorial Quadrangle" (PDF). National Park Service. October 2, 1992. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  15. Hasselrooth, Glenn (October 6, 1940). "Purpose of Campus Entrance Gates Explained by Cuthbert". Eugene Register Guard. Eugene, Oregon: Guard Publishing. pp. 1A. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  16. "NRHP Nomination Form: Dad's Gates" (PDF). National Park Service. August 11, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  17. "Lawrence / Cuthbert Era (1914 - 1946)". Heritage Landscape Plan. University of Oregon. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  18. "Mid-century Era Characteristics" (PDF). Heritage Landscape Plan. University of Oregon. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  19. "Historic Era Characteristics" (PDF). University of Oregon Campus Heritage Landscape Plan. University of Oregon. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 27, 2013.
  20. Knapp, Kenneth W. (1975). Trees of the Oregon Campus (First ed.). Corvallis, Oregon: O. S. U. Bookstores, Inc. ISBN 0-882-46-152-4.
  21. May, Mande; Steggell, Dorene (2006) [1996], University of Oregon Atlas of Trees (PDF) (Second ed.), Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon, ISBN 0-87114-294-5, archived from the original (PDF) on October 26, 2013
  22. "Ducks Break Ground for the Matthew Knight Arena".
  23. "Wave of UO construction gaining momentum". July 30, 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  24. "Expansion and Renovation Projects". Retrieved 11 June 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  25. Teague, Edward. "Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library". Retrieved 9 January 2015. External link in |website= (help)
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