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Eugene riverfront lab showcases UO research

Land Lab
Karen Richards
Michael Geffel and Christopher Daradics stand in front of one of the Land Lab areas.

Visitors to the Oregon ’22 Fan Festival have a chance to see some University of Oregon field research at the Fuller Initiative Land Lab.

UO Landscape Architect professor Michael Geffel has worked with 15 acres along the South Bank bike path for about four years. The land, east of the new Downtown Riverfront Park, began as an unused dry and weedy area, mowed twice a year.

“The original goal of the field experiment," he told KLCC, "was to adaptively manage the grassland so we can control for blackberry and fire, while allowing a meadow to emerge.”

Geffel had success growing wildflowers and, with the help of drone imagery, suppressing blackberry. The site has attracted foxes, birds of prey, and pollinating insects. Geffel said the work has implications for managing areas like highway margins. The Land Lab has worked with the Ecology and College of Design departments, and Geffel hopes to add to that list.

An interactive exhibit at the site is being installed just in time for the World Athletics Championships. Working with Travel Oregon, Christopher Daradics with the Center for Applied Second Language Studies developed an augmented reality game. He and his team just began the work in June.

“They’ve been working for four years on this site," he said, "and we’ve been working on our mixed reality experience toolkit for about the same amount of time. Actually to do something like this for 2021, at the time. And so we saw this opportunity coming, and we thought this is really exciting. We want to do this, activate the space, tell the story…”

Daradics said the project came together serendipitously. To access the puzzles and earn 360-degree views of seven Oregon regions, visitors can scan the Q-R codes posted throughout the site. You can also visit the online version here.

Land Lab signage
Karen Richards
Each of the seven bio-regions of Oregon will have an installation on the riverfront.

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