Location for planned alumni center moves closer to new arena

Posted by Daily Emerald Archives on Thursday, Jul. 3 at 12:00 am.
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The future University alumni center has changed locations and will now sit next to the northwest corner of the University’s new basketball arena.

The new alumni center, which will be built simultaneously with the arena and a new academic learning services center for student athletes, was originally designed to be situated next to the learning center on the corner of Franklin Boulevard and East 13th Avenue.

This relocation is the latest in several schematic changes made to the design of the alumni center over the past two years.

“Part of the reason there is more shifting going on now is that there is so much activity going on in this corner of campus,” University spokesman Phil Weilersaid. “(The University) is really better off exploring all the options before putting shovels in the ground. This is going to be the gateway to campus and they really want to get it right.”

Timeline

Fall 2006
The alumni center user group – comprised of representatives from the Alumni Association, UO Foundation and Office of Development – was formed to begin working on designs with the architect.

Spring 2007
Discussions began to include new career center offices in the alumni center facility, and representatives from the career center were added to the user group.

May 2008
University announced that the career center would not be included in the new alumni center because of lack of funding and space constraints.

June 2008
University announces that the alumni center’s location will be changed. It will now be located next to the new arena on the other side of 13th Avenue.

The new location means that the building plans for the center will have to be adjusted. Weiler said that the alumni center’s architects, Opsis Architecture in Portland, will meet with arena architects to discuss how the buildings will be situated together and if any collaboration in design is possible.

Weiler said that because the location change was decided so recently, new building plans have not been made. However, he does not “anticipate the move is going to change the look or design significantly.” He added that building the alumni center in this location may be more cost-effective than on the other side of East 13th Avenue.

Because the new location might allow for complementary construction, excavation and shared manpower between the alumni center and the new arena, the University will “put a renewed emphasis on fundraising,” Weiler said.

The Alumni Association has been leading efforts to raise the $25 million in donations needed to build the alumni center, Kathie Bedbury, the associate director of alumni center development, said. Currently, the Alumni Association has raised roughly half that.

Teri Giustina, co-chair of the alumni center’s leadership committee for fundraising, said they have been waiting to push for final donations until “we can put the (building) plans down in front of” potential donors.

“We were able to raise half of our goal with essentially a sketch on the back of a napkin,” Giustina said. “We’ll bring in the final dollars when we can show them what the building is going to be.”

The University requires that 80 percent of the funding for the project be raised before construction can begin, Weiler said.

Initially, the location next to the new arena was going to house arena-related offices and storage space, Weiler said. But the overall cost of the arena became too high, so these plans were discarded, freeing up the space to move the alumni center to the location.

“I think (the new location) will give us an opportunity that we didn’t have on the other site,” Giustina said. “In terms of visibility, we will be facing Franklin Boulevard, and there are possible programing options with the arena we’d like to explore.”

The building’s future users are excited about the center’s new location, Giustina said.

“I know this is something the alums feel strongly about,” she said. “Ultimately the final decision was with the (University) president, but when we heard that this opportunity was available, I know that all the volunteers were excited about it.”

The building plans for the alumni center have undergone several significant changes over the past two years since the building’s user group was formed and began meeting with the architects in 2006.

Initially, the building was designed to house the Alumni Association, UO Foundation, and the Office of Development, along with conference rooms and other facilities.

Then, in spring of 2007, the University’s former vice president and provost Linda Brady announced plans to move the career center offices into the building, which would give the career center improved office space and enable it to work more closely with the Alumni Association, Bedbury said.

Representatives from the career center joined the building’s user group and the schematic plans for the building were altered accordingly.

Plans to include the career center in the facility were discarded in May 2008 because the overall size of the alumni center became too large, and funding to build the new career center offices could not be raised, Weiler said.

University President Dave Frohnmayer decided to make this latest change a few weeks ago, Weiler said.

jhiggins@dailyemerald.com