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Building Legacies: Chapman Hall overhaul to be completed by December 2017

The Emerald is continuing its series on names of University of Oregon campus buildings this week with Chapman Hall. Check out the previous building stories on Friendly Hall, Collier House, Prince Lucien Campbell Hall, Lillis Hall, Gerlinger Hall and Condon Hall.

Traditionally the home of the Robert D. Clark Honors College, Chapman Hall today is surrounded by generators, power tools and chainlink fencing, signaling a metamorphosis for this slice of campus history.

Before this remodeling, Chapman Hall has served many roles for UO over the years.

According to the Chapman Hall historical assessment conducted in 2015, the building was constructed in 1939 to house the Humanities department and the university bookstore. Up until 1966, the bookstore was located on the first floor, while the English department was housed on the second floor. The third floor was reserved for Modern Home Economics classes.

Once the bookstore relocated, the lower level was converted to faculty offices. The Honors College officially moved into Chapman Hall in 1961, according to the UO Libraries website.

Chapman Hall has a “‘primary’ historic ranking” due to its “high historical significance and excellent integrity” according to the same 2015 historical assessment. Part of that significance is due to the building’s architect, Ellis Lawrence. Besides having a building named in his honor (Lawrence Hall), Lawrence designed nearly all of the red-brick, old-campus style halls and was highly influential in Pacific Northwest architecture during the 1930s.

As of summer 2016, Chapman Hall has been closed for renovation, jettisoning the Honors College to McArthur Court. But according to Gene Mowery, UO owner’s representative and project manager for the Chapman Hall renovation, the project is in its final stages, and the hall will reopen at the start of winter quarter 2018.

“The classrooms will be fully up to date with new equipment including the lecture hall on the second floor,” Mowery said.

Due to the original purpose of the ground floor (as the campus bookstore), it was isolated from the rest of Chapman Hall. But in the redesigned interior, the ground floor will finally be connected to the rest of the building so visitors can flow between all levels.

Mowery said another problem with the old design of Chapman Hall that was addressed with the renovation was a lack of natural light in the classrooms and hallways. More windows were installed above doorways, and the hallways were widened. The previously narrow hallways Mowery described will also be outfitted with study and staging areas, so students will have somewhere to wait before their class begins, a key problem with the old interior’s design. 

A rendering of the new Chapman Hall hearth.
(Courtesy of Hennebery Eddy Architects)

“I think the students are really going to enjoy the ambiance of the space: the day-lighting, the color selection,” Mowery said. “It still contains some of its historic fabric so there’s that connection with history, but it is also very modern now.”

On the outside, Chapman Hall still resembles a classic memorial quad structure, a throwback to old campus style. But behind the red-brick walls will soon lie a redesigned facility with little resemblance to what students knew once before.

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Franklin Lewis

Franklin Lewis

Franklin is a senior News writer for the Daily Emerald. Born and raised in San Francisco, he writes about university culture past, present and future. He also hosts the Spotlight on Science podcast for the Emerald Podcast Network.

Email: [email protected]
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