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Knight Campus Phase 2 has a shaky start in Eugene

Kaleb Beavers
Karen Richards
/
KLCC
Kaleb Beavers stands near some plants that students rescued from the Urban Farm before the machinery moved in. Tree stumps, including that of a heritage walnut, are visible in front of the tractor.

The second phase of the University of Oregon’s Knight Campus is underway in Eugene.

UO said the project will double the capacity for biomedical research and development. Artist renderings show the four-story 185,000 square foot building will have a skybridge across the millrace, connecting it to the first building on Franklin Boulevard. A timeline shows construction beginning this spring, with occupancy slated for winter, 2025.

University representatives declined to speak to KLCC about the project but said in a statement, “Phase 2 is made possible by a second $500 million gift from Penny and Phil Knight for the campus bearing their names. Additionally, the Oregon legislature has approved $10 million to support cutting-edge technologies in Knight Campus building 2.”

Some neighbors of the Knight Campus in Eugene feel Phase 2 of the project has had a flawed start. Kaleb Beavers is part of the UO Urban Farm. Last year, students and the community rallied when they learned the popular outdoor classroom would lose about a third of its space.

He told KLCC as a result of the pushback, the UO allocated the Urban Farm a million dollars and some land near the Willamette River, behind the Millrace garage and the railroad tracks. “That’s a big win," said Beavers, "but it’s still really bittersweet, and I think that the destruction of 30 years of regenerative farming, of orchards, of over a 100 year old tree ... it’s hard to square that with the University’s stated environmental values.”

Beavers said they were told construction would begin in January. Instead, crews came at night at the start of winter break and began work under floodlights. He said it’s especially frustrating that the orchard trees were removed to clear a staging area, not part of the building’s footprint.

Beavers said turning a gravelly piece of riverside land into a productive garden will be a great project, but it’s also slated to prioritize faculty research. He hopes the school continues to allow students of all ages and from all majors to access Urban Farm programs.

Meanwhile, this spring and the next few terms will be a challenge simply because of the noise and dust associated with nearby construction. And until the new riverside area is available, classes may not be able to accommodate as many students as usual because of the diminished space.

Here's the UO's page on the development as it relates to the Urban Farm.

Knight rendering
University of Oregon
An artist rendering of Knight Campus, Building 2

Karen Richards has been a KLCC reporter since the fall of 2012.
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