Developments on Franklin will help create new ‘gateway’ to campus

Posted by Daily Emerald Archives on Wednesday, Apr. 9 at 12:00 am.

The University’s Alumni Association has raised half of the necessary funds to begin building a new alumni center on the corner of Franklin Boulevard and 13th Avenue. The architects are now beginning to work on the schematic design of the structure, which has recently been expanded to also house the University’s Career Center.

Kathie Bedbury, associate director of Alumni Center Development, said the University has raised roughly $12.5 million of the $25 million needed to build the facility. The association hopes to raise an additional $15 million before the end of the fiscal year.

The Office of Development is leading a campaign to raise the $25 million, which has been endorsed by the UO Foundation and the Alumni Association. These funds are being raised entirely through private donations.

The Career Center’s move to the new facility is being paid for separately from the $25 million campaign because that plan was not a part of the first conceptual design or original campaign developed in 2006, said Bedbury.

While space for the Career Center is being incorporated into the building’s latest design, it is still unclear where the money for the move will come from, said Carole Daly, senior director of development and leadership gifts.

“We are in kind of an awkward situation because we have been sitting in the (user group) meetings but haven’t had any official word (about funding),” said Rick Guerra, the associate director of the Career Center.

Guerra said the center needs to be in an updated space in a building that gets more student traffic. This location, he said, will allow for collaboration between current students and alumni, who are also able to use the program.

The University’s decision to include the new Career Center is something few other universities have done, said Bedbury.

Opsis Architecture in Portland has been contracted to design and build the facility. It began work on a schematic design of the facility in January after meeting with the project’s user group.

Bedbury said the user group, comprising representatives from the organizations that will be using the completed building, will meet with the firm again on April 22, at which time the group will be presented with the latest schematic designs that incorporate the Career Center.

The University began fundraising for the facility in 2006 when Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford donated $5 million designated for the building of a new Alumni Center.

The $25 million campaign has recently become more aggressive and public, Bedbury said.

Bedbury said the University is designing the new facility so that it will be part of a dynamic entrance into campus.

“Unlike most alumni centers, it will be a gateway building that will engage first-time visitors to the University,” Bedbury said.

Bedbury hopes the building will revolutionize the use of such a facility on a university campus. Because it is located near the residence halls, she hopes the facility will become a place where students will come and interact with both alumni and faculty.

In addition to office and conference rooms, the building will have designated space for a visual display of the University’s history. Opsis has contacted Second Story Interactive Studios, which, according to its Web site, creates interpretive installations to help with the interactive elements of the building’s design, said Bedbury.

Alec Holfer, a principal designer at Opsis, said the firm is designing the ground floor to be a welcome center for students, where student orientations will begin. As part of the plan they are working with Second Story to develop space in the lobby that will visually represent the history of the University through physical structures and interactive media.

“It will become a focal point of the University, which really doesn’t exist now,” Holfer said.

Jon Anderson, who is involved with both the Alumni Center Committee and the UO Foundation, made the most recent major contribution to the campaign last week.

“This is a competitive move, and we are late in the game,” Anderson said. “We are the only Pac-10 school not to have an Alumni Center. It will enhance the gateway of the University significantly as a starting point for alumni, friends and prospective students.”

Bedbury said the private gifts for the project are coming mainly from alumni and other people who work closely with the University and are familiar with the project.

“The same folks who got the University where it is today are the ones funding the alumni center,” Bedbury said.

Arthur Carmichael, former president of both the Alumni Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, made a six-figure contribution to the campaign because he believes the building is “extremely important” to the University.

He said that making a contribution that large was “a stretch for me, but I’m passionate about the project.”

jhiggins@dailyemerald.com