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Tykeson Hall: What Do We Mean By “Designed for Student Success”?

Tykeson Hall ribbon cutting, Oct. 25, 2019. From left: Andrew Marcus, Eric Tykeson, Ellen Tykeson, Amy Tykeson, Michael Schill, Doneka Scott, Kevin Marbury. Photo: Michelle LaFoe

In late October, the UO officially cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall. This was a joyous celebration of the Tykeson family as well as a wide array of donors and supporters, the collaborative success of our campus colleagues, and the promise we are collectively making to our students.

At this event, in this blog, and everywhere else we have articulated the vision of Tykeson Hall, we have said it’s a building designed for student success. But what do we mean by that?

Tykeson Hall was purposefully designed to help us realize a new, integrated paradigm of academic/career advising, with an open, flowing floor plan that makes it easy for students to access advising resources and invites them to engage with the advisors, faculty, and staff who are here to help them.

Architects Isaac Campbell and Michelle LaFoe of Office 52 Architecture have visited several times since Tykeson Hall opened to observe how people are using the building, and they have had numerous conversations with students and faculty they have encountered. Campbell reports that they have heard repeatedly that “they appreciate the way the building flows, within and between floors, as well as the visual connections that happen within the building and how the building frames beautiful views out into campus.”

View from James Commons on first floor of Tykeson Hall. Photo: Isaac Campbell

One of the ways the architects created a sense of openness was through an emphasis on transparency, visual site lines, and natural light, an aesthetic enhanced by a five-story light well in the center of the building as well as an open staircase with an art installation; both of these features allow not only abundant natural light but also connect floors vertically and add to the ambiance of spaciousness. In addition, the architects placed deliberate emphasis on views both out of the building onto the campus landscape and also into the building, so that passersby can see the activity inside.

Light well in center of Tykeson Hall. Photo: Michelle LaFoe

“People like seeing other people, seeing what’s going on, hearing what’s going on,” said Campbell. “We wanted to give people a way to connect to the larger building and make them feel a larger sense of community. These features heighten this sense in a very important way.”

Art installation in stairway. Photo: Isaac Campbell

Additional design aspects that help define the building’s unique character include a Pacific Northwest-inspired color palette and an emphasis on furnishings, fixtures and finishes that suggest warmth and welcome.

The color palette comprises a floor-by-floor color scheme (see below). The first floor, for instance, is “oak prairie,” a theme that emphasizes warm greens and off-white while the second floor is “forest,” with deeper, cooler greens. These colors play out in paint selections as well as fabrics and materials, such as the “dandelion” lighting fixture on the third floor. If you look closely at this fixture, you’ll see that it is made from cones of veneer wood. It is an example of the playful and informal style that pervades the building.

This style is further exemplified by furnishings that are comfortable and purposely eclectic. In the smaller meeting rooms, for instance, chairs are not identical (though coordinated through fabrics and/or colors) to create a feeling of informality. The pervasiveness of wood throughout (on the ceiling, as part of the furnishings, as trim) magnifies the sense of warmth. “The use of wood creates a phenomenal impact on the character of the space, gives the building a Pacific Northwest feel,” said LaFoe.

Dandelion light fixture on second floor. Photo: Michelle LaFoe

From the moment it opened its doors at the beginning of fall term, Tykeson Hall has been bustling with activity—owing in part to the strategic location of several large classrooms in the building. Students come into the building for classes, and then stick around to study in the James Commons, get a cup of coffee and nosh at Amy’s Corner café, grab a conference room for a more private conversation or study time, visit the University Career Center, and, of course, meet with advisors. Flexibility and adaptability for spaces of all sizes are key concepts that add to the ambience of the design, including classrooms, group work, and social spaces.

Advising is at the heart of the Tykeson design. The open, light-filled building facilitates exploration and discovery while making it easy for students to engage with academic and career advising attuned to their interests and needs. Here’s a floor-by-floor guide to Tykeson spaces and services:

Garden Level — color scheme: Coast (marine blue and light gray reminiscent of the Oregon Coast)

  • University Career Center
  • 100-seat registrar-controlled classroom

First Floor — color scheme: Oak Prairie (warm greens and off-white that suggest the oak prairie of the Willamette Valley)

Academic and Career Advising for the following flight paths:

  • Industry, Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Public Policy, Society and Identity
  • Media, Arts and Expression
  • Amy’s Corner Café
  • James Commons
  • 70-seat registrar-controlled classroom

Second Floor — color scheme: Forest (deeper and cooler greens reminiscent of Oregon forests) 

  • Academic and Career Advising for the following flight paths:
  • Global Connections
  • Healthy Communities
  • Scientific Discovery and Sustainability
  • 30-seat, 40-seat and 70-seat registrar-controlled classrooms; 24-seat mathematics classroom and 24-seat CAS seminar room

Third Floor — color scheme: High Desert (oranges, yellows, and reds that evoke the high desert and painted hills of Central and Eastern Oregon)

Faculty Offices

  • Mathematics and writing tutoring areas
  • Slape Terrace
  • 30-seat registrar-controlled classroom; 24-seat composition classroom

Fourth Floor — color scheme: Alpine (cool blue gray, light blue, and white, reminiscent of Oregon’s high peaks)

  • College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office
  • Office of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

In addition to facilitating student exploration, the new building offers amenities to faculty teaching in the building. Geography professor Andrew Marcus, who, as the former CAS Dean, was the key driver behind the Tykeson vision, is now teaching Geog181, Our Digital Earth, in Tykeson Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with more than 70 students taking his class.

“It’s a nicer room to teach in than any other I have experienced at the university,” said Marcus. “The layout makes it feel more like a 35-person class than a 70-person class; access is great for folks of all ability, chairs and tables are easily moved around, and the technology allows for subtle tweaks in lighting and audio that make it easy to do everything from interactive student assignments to videos. Plus, I can always reward myself at the end of each class with one of Amy’s fantastic pumpkin cookies  at Amy’s Corner café.”




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