CONSTRUCTION: Lillis Business Complex part of biggest building boom in UO history

Lillis Business Complex

EDITOR'S NOTE: The University of Oregon has benefited from a steady stream of new construction projects and building upgrades over the past 25 years, and in the past 10 years that stream has become a torrent. A series of AroundtheO stories during the 2013-14 academic year will look at some of the projects, beginning with the Lillis Business Complex – whose 10th anniversary is being celebrated in October.

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Tim Rawlings of Salem hadn't been on the University of Oregon campus since he graduated 26 years ago, until he visited last spring with his son – then a prospective student and now a UO freshman.

"My son and I visited two departments – architecture and the Lundquist College of Business," Rawlings says. "That (the Lillis Business Complex) is what won him over. I just said, 'This is crazy nice.'

"After our visit, I just went, 'Wow, have things changed,'" he says. "And my son, who had visited three other schools, said, 'Dad, this is where I want to go.'"

Go back 25 years – or construction seasons – and a steady evolution and upgrade of campus is evident: 82 projects worth more than $1 billion, with nearly 3.9 million square feet of new and renovated space. The majority – in number, square footage and cost – have been academic, research or student support projects.

The Lillis Business Complex, which opened Oct. 24, 2003, has been among the most profound. It has contributed to a 67 percent increase in student population for the UO's Lundquist College of Business and to Lundquist's top-50 ranking among the nation's undergraduate business programs for five straight years by U.S. News & World Report.

"The Lillis Business Complex shapes how people perceive their future – that they can be successful and have a chance to practice it here," Kees de Kluyver, dean of the Lundquist College of Business, says in a recent story from the college's website.

The centerpiece of the business complex is Lillis Hall – an airy, 136,000-square-foot facility that was the Eugene-Springfield area's first building to achieve LEED silver certification for its sustainability features. Lillis replaced what was known as Commonwealth Hall in a $37.3 million project that was nearly 90 percent funded by private gifts – including $14 million from Gwen and Chuck Lillis.

The complex's two mirror-image wings are Peterson Hall, a 19,637-square-foot structure originally built in 1922 and whose renovation was completed in 2007; and Anstett Hall, a 16,219-square-foot building that opened in 1917 and was gutted and renovated in 2010. Anstett was previously known as Gilbert Hall, and before that, Commerce Hall; Peterson was most recently called Gilbert West and originally the Education Building. Hope Anstett donated $5 million of the $5.9 million project cost to renovate Gilbert Hall, while Ronald and Patricia Peterson donated $4 million of the $6.3 million cost to renovate Gilbert West.

Rounding out the Lillis Business Complex is the Chiles Center, a 15,881-square-foot facility that was built in 1985 and then extensively remodeled in a 2010 project that was funded entirely by $2 million in gifts.

In all, at least 10 gifts of $1 million or more and another 75 gifts of $25,000 or more contributed to the Lillis Business Complex projects.

Lillis is among 38 UO projects over just the past 10 years that are valued at a total of nearly $800 million and have resulted in just under 1.9 million square feet of new and renovated space on campus. A new wave of projects that will be staggered over the next year have a combined price tag of nearly $300 million more.

Chris Ramey, the UO's associate vice president for campus planning and real estate, says the current and recent upgrades to campus are unprecedented in both depth and breadth.

"Change and growth are certain in the next 25 years but not likely at the same levels as the last 25 – the largest building boom in campus history," Ramey says.

- by Joe Mosley, UO Office of Strategic Communications