April 15, 2001 11:00 pm
EOU BLUEPRINT: Melinda Graham of the Walker Macy firm in Portland, Tom Bennett, project manager for SERA Architects of Portland, and George "Bing" Sheldon of SERA review EOU's master plan. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
EOU BLUEPRINT: Melinda Graham of the Walker Macy firm in Portland, Tom Bennett, project manager for SERA Architects of Portland, and George "Bing" Sheldon of SERA review EOU's master plan. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Can Eastern Oregon Universitys campus grow significantly and retain its history and intimate atmosphere?

Portland architect George Bing Sheldon believes so. Sheldon is the chairman of SERA Architects, a Portland firm that created a master plan to allow EOU to accommodate its potential growth. SERA was asked to make its plans on the assumption that EOU will have 3,000 full-time students in 2010 and 4,250 in 2020. EOU now has about 1,900 full-time-equivalent students.

Sheldon said the plans call for the expansion of EOUs campus while maintaining a friendly, student-centered atmosphere.

SERA Architects created three sets of plans, one of which has been adopted by EOUs planning committee. Under the plan, Easterns buildings would be confined to a circular area in which any point on campus could be reached in five minutes or less while walking 2.5 miles per hour. The student health center on L Street is on the northern edge of this circle and the track and football field sites are on the southern edge.

We want all the buildings to stay in this circle. We want to add to what is in this space while keeping the character intimate and student centered, said Melinda Graham of Walker Macy, a Portland landscape urban design and planning firm that helped create the master plan.

Graham said the plan stipulates that no new buildings of more than three stories will be added.

If buildings are too large, the campus develops a more urban flavor, Sheldon said.

He said five- to six-story buildings would dwarf Easterns historic buildings, casting shadows which would overwhelm them.

We want to retain their dignity and historic value. We want to build on character, not destroy it, Sheldon said.

Under the SERA plan, about four new buildings would be added in addition to the new science building EOU is now obtaining funds to build.

Three of these buildings would be student dormitories. The dormitories would be placed on the east side of the campus near Alikut Hall, a residence hall which opened about three years ago. Plans call for a student food service center to be in one of the dormitories.

Sheldon said Dorion Hall, a dormitory on the west side of the campus, would be remodeled and turned into an academic building.

The end result would be that all of Easterns dormitories would be adjacent to each other.

The SERA plans call for changes regarding the amphitheater between the Hoke Center and Quinn Coliseum. Graham said that it is not inviting because of the berm surrounding it. She noted that most people sit on the edge of it and do not venture toward the center.

You dont have the feeling you can come and go easily, Graham said. The plan calls for the amphitheater to be flattened into a grass field. To complement it, an outdoor terrace cafe would be added to the south of Hoke Center.

The amphitheater now helps with flood control. Graham said EOU and the City of La Grande would have to work out an alternative flood-control arrangement before the amphitheater was removed.

The master plan addresses Easterns athletic facilities. They call for EOUs football stadium to be converted into a site for three sports football, soccer and track and field. Graham said artificial turf would be put in so the site could withstand added use.

Creating a multiple-use site at the football field would allow EOU to save space, Graham said. She said that this will become increasingly important as EOU grows.

The plans call for a fieldhouse to be constructed where EOUs 10-year-old tennis dome now is to provide an indoor practice site for football and track.

Another feature of the plan is the establishment of a pedestrian corridor starting near Inlow Hall and running south. It would feature a pattern of benches, lights and trees every 50 yards.