Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center

For the University of Oregon, SRG Partnership creates a home for medical treatment and athletic training, with recruiting-friendly elements. Photography by Aaron Leitz

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As concussions and other injuries have been found in recent years to pose greater long-term health risks to football players than previously known, professional and college teams alike have placed an added emphasis on safety and treatment. The University of Oregon (UO) Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center in Eugene, Oregon, is leading the way.

Located next to the Oregon Ducks football team’s longtime home, Autzen Stadium, and named for its quarterback who won the 2014 Heisman Trophy, the 30,000-square-foot, $19.2 million Mariota Center is the latest in a succession of the university’s facility investments. Coupled with flashy, ever-changing uniforms and underscored by the benefaction of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, an alumnus, the Oregon identity has been transformed. A perennial loser for much of the 20th century has now become one of college football’s success stories.

“We always wanted to present the UO brand as not just a college but a place of innovation,” explains Todd Van Horne, Nike’s creative director for football, who helped guide the Mariota Center’s creation, in conjunction with architecture firm SRG Partnership, based in Portland, Oregon. “We’re all about pushing for the next and not looking around to see what others are doing, not being fearful of being front runners.”

The Mariota Center—housed within the Casanova Center that also includes the athletic department administration—combines medical treatment and athletic training with leading-edge data collection. “We accept that injuries happen, but our focus is how we prevent them,” explains Andrew Murray, the Mariota Center’s director. “How do we become proactive and not just reactive?”

Technology combined with bold visuals
When a player suffers a concussion, for example, Mariota Center specialists can track an evolving neurological condition with a variety of motion-capture cameras, comparing measurements to baseline readings taken preinjury. When a bone is broken, bone-density measurements and treatments can help players come back stronger, with less threat of reinjury. Even after the usual strains of a practice, athletes can don special boots and sleeves that circulate hot and cold water to eliminate soreness.

The Mariota Center is also about excellence in personnel, bringing doctors, sports scientists, and strength and conditioning coaches together under one roof. “It’s about evidence-based and data-driven practice, and coming back to those landmarks ahead of injury, so we know what success looks like,” Murray explains.

Eye-popping visuals go hand in hand with the University of Oregon’s recent success on the football field, so the Mariota Center is as sleek as it is innovative. “That was the challenge,” says Josh Orona, a senior associate at SRG Partnership. “There are these scientific, clinical components. How do we make it not so clinical and reinforce that this is about student athletes?”

At the entrance to the center, for example, one sees a cluster of LED lights that form the likeness of Marcus Mariota while passing a collection of his trophies under glass. Inside the treatment area, walnut floors give way to walls of video screens, under ceilings decorated with a pattern of flocking mallards. The intensity and color of illuminated LED arrays change throughout the day so that this windowless interior space mimics natural light.

Because the Mariota Center is a long walk from the rest of campus, and because sleep is important for optimal health and recuperation, five sleeping pods by Metronaps allow athletes to nap as needed. The interior with the pods—bubble-shaped recliners underneath a glowing star-festooned ceiling—feels otherworldly.

Paired with the treatment center, a storage and display area for helmets and uniforms doubles as a recruiting tool. At the push of a button, potential players can see the literally thousands of combinations for jerseys and helmets accessed from two and a half miles of movable shelves. They can even view themselves as a hologram outfitted with the gear. Recruits can also sit on a tricked-out 450-pound carved wooden throne to try on a pair of shoes. “The team is serious about innovation,” Orona says, “but it’s football, and they like to have a lot of fun with it.”

who Architect and interior designer: SRG Partnership. Project team: Jeff Yrazabal; Walker Templeton; Greg Williams; Robert Lochner; Dmitriy Molla; Josh Orona; Emily Wright. Contractor: Hoffman Construction Company. Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden. Engineering: PAE. Landscape: Place Studio. Graphics: Todd Van Horne. Experience design: Gallagher.
what Flooring: Brandsen Floors; Terroxy; Crossville; Oregon Tile and Marble; Mondo. Carpet/carpet tile: Burmatex; Bentley. Lighting: ALW. Architectural glass/glazing: Hartung. Decorative glass panels/partitions: Moonshadow Glass. Window treatments: Lutron. Workstation/task seating/conference seating: Herman Miller. Lounge/reception seating: B&B Italia; Why Not Bespoke. Patient seating: Poltrona Frau. Conference tables: Lamer Woodworking. Side tables: Ward Bennett. Other tables: Davis Furniture. Storage systems: Spacesavers; JS Perrott. Architectural/custom woodworking: JS Perrott; Gallagher. Signage (fabricator): Ambrosini Design. Plumbing fixtures/fittings: Kohler; Delta.