The Hatfield-Dowlin Complex in perspective
Tucked behind Lawrence and Allen halls stands the oldest building on the University of Oregon campus — Deady Hall. Its largest classroom holds 90 students and the building’s most elaborate piece of technology is a DVD player. The building’s VCR comes in at a close second.
More than a stone’s throw away, across the Willamette, stands the newest building to be a part of the UO: the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, a mecca built for the UO football team that holds 64 55-inch high-definition TVs — and that’s just within the entrance.
What comes with the supposed $68 million price tag — estimates are now coming in at closer to $138 million — are hydrotherapy pools for the coaches, bathroom mirrors with built-in TVs, a two-story theater to review game footage and a barbershop. And that’s not even a quarter of the distinctive features that set Hatfield-Dowlin apart from any other building owned and operated by the University.
“If a building was a superhero, that’s it,” said UO head football coach Mark Helfrich during an Aug. 6 press conference. Comparing the building to a superhero might be an understatement — since even the Batcave would blush over Hatfield-Dowlin’s amenities.
At that same press conference, Helfrich mentioned that the publicity the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex has received recently shows how well the UO treats not only student athletes, but also its students. Some disagree.
“This might be kind of a lot to ask for, but I think getting some air conditioning installed in some classrooms over in Pacific would be a good idea,” said Adam Lowe, a recent UO graduate. “My only guess as to why the school hasn’t installed any air conditioning in those rooms is because they don’t see the point in putting in something that’s only going to be used for a couple of months.”
But air conditioning is a luxury. What’s more important than renovations to make students feel comfortable is work that makes students safe.
Bean, Riley and Earl halls were built in the 1950s. At the time, the facilities were known as the premier dorms on campus, but now the Living Learning Center and Global Scholars Hall share that distinction.
Outside appearances make Bean, Riley and Earl a little less desirable than the other dorms, but what’s perhaps the most important drawback to those dorms is that they’re equipped with fire sprinklers only in the basement. Earl Hall, however, is currently undergoing an overhaul of its sprinklers system.
“We’re currently in the process of updating the sprinklers in Earl,” said Drew Standridge, the UO’s fire systems manager. “The project is a pretty expensive one. It’s going to cost half a million to upwards of $800,000.”
The development process for Hatfield-Dowlin spanned a few years. Securing the finances for the new sprinklers in Earl took even longer — nearly a decade.
The difference in the developments of Hatfield-Dowlin and Earl Hall is that Hatfield-Dowlin spent its years planning out where to put their “war room” and “Area 51” room, while the Fire and Life Safety group spent all of their time convincing the University for financing.
The important thing to note is that the Hatfield-Dowlin was able to spend its time personalizing every detail of the complex because all of the money was donated. Since the money was donated, the University doesn’t have any financial breakdowns concerning the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
“We have no information on the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex and it was a project that we didn’t have any part in managing,” said Darin Dehle, director of capital construction.
“It’s a gift,” athletics department spokesman Craig Pintens told Comcast Sportsnet. “It goes to the foundation and then to the athletic department. The $68 million figure has been used by the media because a long time ago, it was on the budget when the blueprints were submitted to the city.”
Even if Hatfield-Dowlin cost the claimed $68 million dollars, that still overshadows any project that’s been funded by the University in recent years. Allen Hall opened its newly renovated doors at the start of winter term this year and the total approximate budget for that project was $27.6 million. The highest donation, submitted by an anonymous donor, was $5 million.
The proposed budget for the coming EMU renovation is $95 million. However, it’s been more than 60 years since the building had any major work done.
Deady Hall went under renovation in 2006, but the project was more about keeping the building alive and less about modernizing it. Even with Deady’s grim-looking exterior and its squeaky floors and rundown walls, the building has played a pivotal role in educating UO students, even without the latest bells and whistles.
“Yeah, Deady’s not a bad building. I mean it’s pretty worn down, but it worked alright for a classroom,” said Lowe, the recent graduate. “I had a lot of classes in that building. It would be nice if they did a little bit of a facelift on it. It’s a shame cause I feel like people don’t give buildings like that any attention.”