UO Board of Tustees approved $100 million to the first phase of new campus housing
Rowell Brokaw and Mithun are collaborating architects on the design of the Housing Transformation Project that will replace the current Hamilton and Walton residence halls. The funding announcement as reported by the Register Guard is below:
By Jordyn Brown
Posted Sep 8, 2019 at 5:00 AM
The University of Oregon Board of Trustees decided Friday to devote more than $100 million to the first phase of new campus housing and trustees also chose the name of the new black cultural center.
Trustees unanimously approved four action items at their meeting Friday morning:
• $101 million toward the initial phase of rebuilding Hamilton and Walton residence halls;
• Naming the new Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center after a prominent civil rights activist in Eugene;
• $8.75 million to build the Oregon Acoustics Research Laboratory for the College of Design; and
• Expenditures for fiscal year 2020.
Before the full meeting, the board had three committee meetings on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Those committee meetings went over items such as progress on student success initiatives, audit reports and research. Each of the action items approved in Friday morning’s main meeting were discussed and proposed in the finance and facilities committee meeting.
The UO requested approval to move forward with the first of three phases in its Housing Transformation project. The board unanimously approved the cost for the first phase, which is not to exceed $101 million. The total cost for the project is approximately $218 million to $225 million.
The housing project will update the two dorms built in the late 1950s and early 1960s by expanding the number of students they can house as well as putting in amenities more equal to newer buildings.
The first phase includes construction of the new Hamilton Hall and design and planning costs for the rebuild of Walton Hall, according to board documents.
The new Hamilton Hall, which will replace the current Hamilton Hall, will be built in a new location at Agate Street and 15th Avenue — an area students refer to as the “Humpy Lumpy Lawn” because of its rolling and uneven grassy landscape.
After the new Hamilton is built, UO plans in the second phase to tear down Walton Hall and rebuild in its current space. Finally, in the third phase, the university will tear down the old Hamilton Hall and create a new grassy space. The first phase is anticipated to wrap up by fall 2021, and the entire project is expected to finish by fall 2024.
“Funding sources include $8 million in University Housing funds and a loan from the UO’s internal bank,” according to board documents. “This cash flow for this loan will be generated by the issuance of revenue bonds. The administration anticipates seeking board approval for these bonds in December.”
In his report to the board, UO President Michael Schill commented on some of the renovation projects underway — including Bean Hall, which is an older dorm that has seen significant renovations in the past two years.
“Bean Hall is now our third most popular residence hall,” he said. “While one can still reach over and touch their roommate from across the room, it’s a huge improvement from what it used to be.”
Building named after UO alumna, advisor
The board also unanimously approved naming the new Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center. In addition to being a civil rights activist, Parker is a member of one of Eugene’s first black families, born in Eugene in 1946, and a UO alumna who worked for 17 years as an academic advisor for the UO.
Before being brought to the board for approval, the university went through a public input process, taking 21 nominations for names that were narrowed to two finalists. In his letter to the board, Schill said the UO received nearly 500 comments from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members about the naming. Of those comments, 84% were in favor of naming it after Parker.
Schill noted that the typical practice is to name university buildings as part of a large gift or someone who is no longer living, but asked the board do differently in this case given Reynolds-Parker’s “exceptional service and tangible connection to student success and racial justice.”
The board also was given letters from others in favor of Reynolds-Parker’s name on the building, including from groups such as the UO African Students’ Association, the Black Male Alliance and the Black Student Union.
New lab coming
The final capital project approved was to build an acoustics research lab proposed by the College of Design. The lab would be used to do “acoustic testing for floor ceiling construction assemblies, develop innovative mass timber assemblies, develop acoustic isolation technologies,” and research human comfort and physiology, according to the documents.
Third parties would be able to pay to use the facility, which would offset costs. The budget is between $7.25 million and $8.75 million, but the final price would be set after finalizing the location and a request for contractor proposals is put in. The lab is expected to be finished no later than December 2021.
There may be other notable changes to the university in the coming months, including that the UO’s three largest labor unions will be bargaining their contracts: those representing graduate students, classified staff and faculty.
The union for classified staff, SEIU 503, already has threatened to strike if they can’t come to an agreement this month, and bargaining with the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation is in mediation.
“I’m committed to working with our graduate students, with our classified staff, and faculty,” Schill said. “I do worry as we move forward in these contract negotiations about the type of behavior we saw at our last (board) meeting. I worry that this could intensify the culture. ... We’re a community.” A community, he said, that only works if there is joint cooperation.