University of Oregon
THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

Mechanical Hall

Architect: Edgar Lazarus
This image shows the Architecture Building (left), the Gymnasium (center), and Mechanical Hall (right). Lawrence Hall now occupies this site and incorporates some of the older buildings. Source: Oregana.

 

History

Mechanical Hall, designed by Portland architect Edgar Lazarus, was among the first buildings on campus when it opened in 1901. Part of this building, where engineering courses were taught, also housed UO's heating plant. Sometimes refered to as Commerce, Sociology, or Engineering Building as it housed those programs before its use became dedicated to architecture.

Mechanical Hall and a parallel structure were linked by William Knighton and formed the nucleus of a structure substantially enhanced by architect Ellis F. Lawrence. Mechanical Hall, now stuccoed and without a cupola, can still be seen as the northwest part of Lawrence Hall.

The following description of Mechanical Hall is given in the 1903 Webfoot:

The New Building Heating Plant.

The new central heating plant and light station for the University was completed early in the winter, and has since been in successful operation. Funds for its construction were provided by the last legislature, which appropriated th-e sum of $25,000 for a "central heat and lighting plant and hall of engineering." The new building, which houses the plant and serves also as a hall of engineering, is made of brick laid in cement mortar, upon concrete foundations. The main part is 40x80 feet, two stories high, while the boiler house annex is 41X44 feet, and contains the two boilers and a concrete walled pit about 12 feet deep, in which are placed the pumps and receiving tank. • In the main building, the north half of the first story has a concrete floor and is divided into two rooms, one of which contains the engines and dynamo, and the other is to be used for electrical apparatus. The south half is divided into an entrance hall (in which is the stairway to the second floor) and two rooms which are used by Professor McAlister, the one facing the east and south as a draughting room, in charge of :Mr. Adams, and the other as a lecture and recitation room. The second story is given entirely to the workshop in charge of Mr. Dearborn, except one room for lectures or recitations. The brick for the face walls are of a cherry red color, carefully selected, and the mortar is stained the same color. Relief is given by a buff-colored belt of cement extending around the building under the first story window sills, and by arches of buff-colored voussoirs over all windows. A handsome porch with stone steps adorns the front entrance, and a roof of pressed metal, known as "Spanish tile," adds its share to the appearance of the building. The lighting plant, with the exception of some necessary changes in wiring and the replacement of the old inadequate boilers by the new ones, is practically the old plant in new quarters. The steam for the heating system is generated in two horizontal steel-shell tubular boilers of 8S horse-power each. The necessary draft is produced by a brick chimney 70 feet high. Space has been left in the boiler room and the dimensions of the chimney have been arranged to accommodate two more boilers, to be added as the needs of the institution increase. From the boilers, the steam, after passing an automatic reducing valve, is conducted to the various buildings by two main pipes laid underground. A seven-inch main supplies Villard Hall and Deady Hall, and a six-inch main supplies the gymnasium, McClure Hall, and the dormitory, the new building having a separate pipe of its own. Each room and hallway in the buildings is provided with radiators of proper size and number to maintain a comfortable temperature in any weather. The water of condensation is drained back by a separate system of pipes to a large steel receiving tank in the pit of the boilerhouse, whence it is returned by pumps to the boilers.

 

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