New Building, Old Idea

A center for women’s sports will be built over the Pioneer Cemetery

illustration by jeff drew

The University of Oregon has developed a novel concept to facilitate its expansion, making use of what the school calls “wasted space.” The university will build an athletic center for women’s sports and place it on stilts over the Pioneer Cemetery. 

UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens says the idea solves two problems. “First, it’s not like the dead people are doing anything there, so it’s pretty much wasted space,” he says.

Second, Mullens says, despite the recent success of the UO women’s basketball team, “no one really cares that much about women’s sports or comes to watch them. So with this new facility, the women can go play sportsball by themselves and free up places like Matt Knight for real sports.”

He points out the new Center for Ladies Innovative Teamwork in Sport will be conveniently located near Gerlinger and Susan Campbell halls, “traditional locations for women’s stuff on campus.”

“The cemetery is located close to Hayward Field and other sports facilities,” he points out, adding, “When they are done with games and practice the girls can go watch the men play and cheer them on.”

The stilts over the cemetery is an old idea made new again. According to information from the UO libraries, “For many years the cemetery was considered as a viable space for future university growth.” In 1963, Lutes and Amundson architects designed a plan that “envisioned placing buildings over the graves by means of stilts and enabling navigation through raised walkways and bridges.”

UO interim spokesperson Molly Blancett says that using the old stilts plan with some modifications will also save the school money.

“Really the only thing different about architecture these days is that we need to plan for bigger earthquakes,” she says. “In this case it would only fall on dead people, and we just need to make sure living people can evacuate.” 

Blancett says that, with limited attendance at women’s games, evacuation should be easy, and the school will install emergency slides re-purposed from soon-to-be decommissioned Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes. 

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