Creating a Significant Urban Presence

Mary Spilde Center

Lane Community College

The client’s challenge to the design team: take advantage of a blighted lot in downtown Eugene to create a new campus for Lane Community College, expand its urban presence, and introduce a significant amount a new student housing.


181,000 sf


Eugene, OR

Year Complete



LEED Platinum

2013 Citation Award — AIA Southwest Oregon

2013 Mayor's Choice Award — AIA Southwest Oregon Awards

2013 People's Choice Award, 2nd Place — AIA Southwest Oregon Awards

2013 Colleagues' Choice Award — AIA Southwest Oregon Awards

2011 1st Place, Public Building Category — DJC Oregon TopProjects

Lane Community College desired a significant downtown presence to complement its main “rural” campus five miles away. Integrating into and enriching its community, this project combines effective urban design and architectural details to create a prototype for sustainable neighborhood development. The project has transformed a downtown brownfield site next to the city’s main public library and transportation hub by introducing education and student housing in a high-performance/low-energy affordable building that showcases renewable energy.

The LEED Platinum building is composed of two interlocking “L” shaped buildings surrounding a central courtyard on a half block site in an urban setting. The academic building faces onto two main public avenues giving it a strong urban presence. A dramatic 4-story glass entry façade screened with glass solar tubes faces the plaza, advertising the College’s commitment to sustainability and its presence downtown.

The base of the academic building utilizes a large amount of glass to enliven the streetscape and make the college activities exciting and inviting. Landscaped planters adjacent to the windows provide just enough screening to soften this relationship and allow enough privacy inside. The main entry atrium is light and transparent so that the inner courtyard beyond is enticing and very visible.

The student housing is at the other end of the block, facing the residential neighborhoods to the west and an apartment complex across the street. The residential character is reinforced by having the main entry to the housing in the center of the block and the college book/convenience store at the southern end. The student apartments greatly increased the residential density in the neighborhood with over 250 beds in a six story mixed-use building.

The entire ground floor is organized around an inner courtyard which helps to inner connect the student housing and the academic spaces. This space is visible throughout the building, from the student lounge at the west edge, through the Center for Meeting and Learning which bisects the courtyard, and all the way to the to the east edge of the academic building. Since this space does not receive a great deal of direct sunlight, the selection of paving and plant materials was inspired by another shaded and secluded environment: the underbrush of a Pacific-Northwest coastal forest. Ferns, moss, vine maple, salal and other native species thrive in this environment.

The building’s main entry opens to a five story atrium which extends to the great hall – the academic core stretching from one end of the building to the other – and the inner courtyard beyond. Service access for the entire complex is located off the alley. On the upper floors, classrooms and labs face the streets, while offices and conference rooms overlook the courtyard.

Pyatok Architects was the architect for the student housing and Robertson/Sherwood/Architects served as Architect-of-Record.