Today is the final day before the biggest football game in the history of the state of Oregon, with the Ducks heading into tomorrow's annual Civil War against archrival Oregon State with a slot in the national championship game on the line. Oregon has been playing football since 1894, and in 116 years the team has never come close to a moment like this: a potentially perfect season atop the college football world.
Taking a few moments from my fetal position on the floor, where I'm writing with nervous tension over my beloved Ducks once-in-several-lifetimes opportunity, I spoke by phone with ZGF Architects partner Gene Sandoval about the ambitious new architecture planned for the land surrounding Autzen Stadium. Sandoval assures me that tomorrow's game is actually not a once-in-several-lifetimes moment, because the coalescence of head coach Chip Kelly's genius with benefactor Phil Knight's riches and ambition will mean a very bright future for the program.
Alternately known as an expansion to the existing Casanova Center and as a "football operations center" of its own, the new building will be series of glass and metal boxes meant to evoke the nature of football itself.
Featured in the expansion, which will wrap around the north and west sides of the Casanova Center, will be a new 25,000-square-foot weight room, an enhanced grass football practice field as well as the addition of two new synthetic turf practice fields, and a full-service dining facility available to all University athletes, students and staff.
The ground floor of the six-story center will feature a lobby and reception area celebrating Ducks football history program, giving way to a centralized football operations center upstairs that will include nine dedicated football position meeting rooms, two team video theaters, offense and defense strategy rooms as well as a larger conference suite for the entire coaching staff. The centralized area will be flanked by office and locker facilities for coaches, staff and student-athletes. Additional amenities will include a players' lounge, a recruiting center to host prospective student-athletes, dedicated areas to accommodate professional scouts, a media interview room as well as an advanced video editing and distribution center.
A new outdoor courtyard and plaza to the west of the Casanova Center is designed in the center of the complex, uniting the expansion with the existing Cas Center and Moshofsky Center.
"The idea of the building is about collective strength that comes from individuals," Sandoval said. "So it’s a series of stacked boxes, like Lego boxes, that make a form. We want to celebrate each piece and make it sing. In some ways that’s analogous to a team: they all have different positions, but it’s about making a congruent entity."
The building will be clad in glass and metal, hoping to strike a balance between protection and openness. "The exterior envrolope takes on the notion of armor and pads, so it’s going to be a black suit of armor," Sandoval added. "But it’s translucent armor. It’s glass. There is this sort of play between strength and accessibility. We’re formidable but open. All the ground floor is glass and all the meeting rooms. It’s about texturing and layering."
"We intentionally situated the ground floor so it's all public rooms and transparent, to invite people into the bilding. All the rooms that needed privacy are elevated about 30 feet up. They become this notion of the cloister, where you can go and reflect and learn and strategize."
Although most of the new square footage is devoted to the football program, this will free up substantial space in the existing Casanova Center for other sports.