Text description provided by the architects. Akin to football players on the line of scrimmage braced to dominate their opponents, so too stands the 145,000 SF Hatfield- Dowlin Complex, a physical representation of the strength and innovation of the University of Oregon football program. The textured black glass façade functions as solar/glare “armor,” symbolizing the program’s ethic of stealth and complexity. It features 40-foot cantilevers that challenge gravity, similar to a football player exhibiting strength, agility and speed.
Hidden behind the walls are advanced facilities that engage student-athletes, coaches and support staff. The public lobby and reception area of the football performance center celebrate the proud accomplishments of the Oregon Ducks’ football program. The center is comprised of a weight room, diagnostic/timing track, offices for coaches/staff, team video theaters, nine position rooms, separate meeting rooms for offensive and defensive coaches and a “war room” for the entire coaching staff. Additional amenities include separate locker rooms for the players and coaches, a player’s lounge, a full-service dining facility that seats more than 200, a nutrition center, a pro scout room, a media interview room and an advanced video editing and distribution center. The site includes an enhanced grass football field and two new synthetic turf practice fields. The design solution takes advantage of the site’s natural slope; tucked under the plaza is a 190-car parking garage and plunge pools.
The project challenges the norm and expectations of design and materiality in sports facilities. The team worked closely with craftspeople/artisans, manufacturers, furniture makers, and stone and metal suppliers to add texture and richness to the monochromatic aesthetic. This attitude is carried through to the nearby Casanova Center and Moshofsky Sports Center, which were reskinned for cohesiveness. A new outdoor plaza was created, complete with a cascading fountain and benches. This serves to unite the existing facilities as a complex, creating a public hub.
Clad in glass, granite and metal, the building’s armor is a construct between strength and grace, formidability and transparency. The ground floor, as well as the meeting rooms and lounges on the mezzanine level, are clad in glass, creating a connection and transparency to outdoor spaces. The building program is divided into box-like elements of black granite, corrugated metal and fritted glass. The boxes are arranged in a “Jenga” manner that may appear unbalanced, but are interlocked as a cohesive and interdependent composition. It represents the collective strength and balance of individuals working together as a team.
The body of interior spaces provides the sinew to the building facade. The interior anatomy reinforces the formidability and transparency of the armor with reflective surfaces that mirror the exterior and the movements of users within – rich wood-clad spaces contrast the starkness of the black façade and support a more focused environment and accommodation of players and coaching staff through the gracious scale. The program is based on a rigorous study of flow, scale and use, guided by proximity. Coaches worked closely with the designers to establish an ideal layout in order to maximize their goals for day-to-day use and minimize travel time. In between the rooms are spaces that encourage interaction, bridging the gap between teacher and student, coach and athlete.
The building is designed to be filled with new ideas and fresh thinking; many walls have magnetic glass, which is both durable and offers a surface for writing and working during impromptu meetings. As the users of the building spend long hours inside, the detailing and materials reflect a more tactile counterpoint to the bristling armor. From the slate to the various patinas of metal panel, all interior finishes were curated to encourage touch and comfort. Much of the hardware and furnishings were custom fabricated in order to fit seamlessly within the architecture, accommodate the weight and proportions of the football players and to synchronize with Oregon’s well-recognized Pantone yellow and green colors.
The University of Oregon is rewriting the standard playbook with a simple premise to put student-athletes first. While many schools invest in new stadiums to lure in fans and student-athletes, Oregon is working from the ground up. It is building its program through facilities dedicated to student-athletes: an Athletic Medicine Center completed in 2007, an Academic Center in 2010, and in August 2013 the Football Performance Center. These facilities provide a new formula and holistic approach to a healthy-mind-body lifestyle that builds better student-athletes. The results speak for themselves: the academic success of student-athletes is improving, players are healthier and recovering from injuries faster, and recruiting efforts are at an all-time high.
The Hatfield-Dowlin Complex was built by the charitable foundation of Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny Knight. The building is named in honor of their mothers, Lota Hatfield and Dorothie Dowlin. The Knights also funded the Athletic Medicine Center and the John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes. Taking a page out of Nike’s playbook to keep design relevant to the target customer, the design team knew the facility needed to appeal to a specific demographic—the rising stars of high school football nationwide. The building will play an important role in the recruitment and retention of Oregon’s football program.
As part of the investigative process, the design team visited the facilities of top university programs across the country, as well as professional sports teams, including the locker room of the New York Yankees and the operations center of the New England Patriots. Each time the design team faced a world-class facility, the client would ask, “how can we make it better?” This relentless pursuit of innovation infiltrated the entire design and construction team, guiding everything from the cladding of the building to the world-class custom fabricated lockers. These trips helped inform programming and design of spaces, such as the player’s lounge. Located on the sixth floor of the office bar, this space accommodates football players in their down time, focused on recuperation and camaraderie.
The lobby resides in the “teaching box,” accessible from the plaza and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the main artery to the Autzen Stadium. It provides a public glimpse into the architecture of the building, and will be a gathering spot for the game-day public. It features a graphic wall of 64 TV screens that will come alive with photos, action clips, and Oregon motivational films with an innovative 3D surround sound system. To support this endeavor, Nike has created an internship in its sports media department to keep content in the lobby fresh, using game day and practice footage. Adjacent to the lobby, the “ring room” displays the Oregon Bowl Game commemorative rings in glass cases. Heritage pieces of the football program are visible in the lobby. At the center is a trophy case of significant football Bowl game wins and a display of miniature football figures showcasing the evolution of Duck uniforms through the years.
A dining hall for all student-athletes is located east of the lobby. It features slate floors, walnut wall paneling, banquettes, oversized dining tables and has access to views of the entry garden and south plaza. In addition, there is a separate but connected dining room for specific pre-game or celebratory meals. The server and kitchen facilities are designed to avail student-athletes the highest nutrition and dietary discipline. Coaches believe “you are what you eat.”
One of the most significant programmatic pieces in the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex is the weight room, a two-story volume overlooking the practice fields. This 25,000 SF facility is anticipated to be one of the largest dedicated football weight rooms among college teams, furnished with the most advanced weight-training and strengthening equipment. A 40-yard indoor diagnostic/timing track is located on the mezzanine. It electronically measures a player’s burst of speed from a standing position, a key metric used by both coaches and professional scouts. Ipe wood was used for its strength and durability, as well as the warmth it brings to the space.
The outdoor practice fields include two synthetic turf practice fields, allowing both the offensive and defensive teams to practice at the same time with the coaches and trainers located in-between. To provide multiple training surfaces, there is also a grass practice field for drills. Two sprinting ramps of differing slopes are provided to condition players for power and speed. Adjacent to the fields, and tucked underneath the weight room, are two plunge pools, to help players reduce recovery time during and after training.
Offices for coaches are located on the fourth floor of the office bar, each provided with the highest technological tools to view films; generous walls of writing surfaces; and comfortable lounging areas to encourage player and coach mentorship. Walnut and other natural wood finishes contribute to the warmth of the environment. Offices for the graduate assistants, interns and football operations support staff reside on the fifth floor. A three-level skybridge connects the “teaching box” and the office bar.
On the sixth floor of the skybridge, a flock of ducks, individually named, displays each Oregon player that has been drafted by a professional football team. Adjacent is the family lounge, an oversized living room for players and their family members to interact pre- and post-game.
The player’s lounge with an outdoor terrace serves as a place for players to rest, recuperate, and interact with teammates. With a view of the practice fields, it also provides a reminder of the work yet to be done.
The “sunglasses” on the West exterior of thefacility is one of the key sustainable features. These exterior glass screens are hungat a distance of 5 feet from the glass façade, functioning as a glare control and thermal heat barrier for the office bar. They allow light in but help block heat, allowing the building to operate with less dependence on air conditioning. The high-performing, triple-glazed glass is coated with a darker tint that reduces glare and reinforces the notion of "armor" on the building.
As a University building, it is required to meet the Oregon State Energy Efficiency Design (SEED) guidelines for exceeding energy efficiency. The predicted energy use intensity is 46.6 kBtu/SF year or 26% more efficient than a baseline code building. Energy efficiency heating and cooling strategies include radiant heating and cooling in the lobby and dining room, night flushing of building mass, and the use of thermafusers rather than traditional VAV boxes that automatically sense the temperature and open or close to meet the temperature requirement in the office bar, minimizing reheat and eliminating overcooling. Ventilation related loads were reduced by energy recovery in the locker room, variable speed fans in the kitchen, displacement ventilation in the large team theater, and demand controlled ventilation strategies that couple ventilation rates to occupant density.
By utilizing quality materials, the Football Performance Center was designed for longevity.
Ultimately, this is a more sustainable approach in that it uses fewer resources and generates less waste. Also, it provides the athletic program with a prized space and a high-quality environment that is more likely to be cared for and respected. The University has seen this result with the Athletic Medicine Center, now more than six years old and showing little wear and tear. The student-athletes and staff help take care of it, with the intention of passing it along to Oregon’s next generation of student-athletes.