CORVALLIS, Ore. - When the new Kelley Engineering Center at Oregon State University officially opens during an Oct. 29 grand opening ceremony, the 153,000-square-foot building bisected by a four-story atrium will be a dramatic departure from most academic engineering buildings.

Not only is the structure designed to drive collaboration and innovation among faculty, students and visiting business partners, it is also on track to be the "greenest" academic engineering building in the nation.

From sky bridges and hallway alcoves to glass-walled conference rooms, graduate student offices clustered around research laboratories, and an e-café in the atrium, the Kelley Engineering Center's layout encourages occupants to cross paths, stop, chat and brainstorm new ideas that will translate into cutting-edge research, new companies, and economic "oomph" for Oregon and beyond.

"Today, innovation is all about collaboration, teamwork, and new ideas," said Ron Adams, dean of engineering at OSU. "This new building is designed to help spark those ideas by ensuring that the people inside connect. Because out of these connections comes collaboration, and that is the key underpinning of innovation."

The Kelley Engineering Center is the new home for the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, which has an impressive track record of successful collaborative research projects, including the launch of, an online music recommendation company that is receiving international media attention.

Other collaborations include OSU electrical engineers and avian ecologists working to track the migration routes of songbirds by outfitting the birds with miniature cell phones; OSU botanists and computer scientists helping improve stream health by identifying stone flies; and development of the world's first transparent electronics, a project involving OSU faculty in engineering, chemistry and physics.

"The reason our annual research funding at the College of Engineering has grown to $26 million - up from $11 million five years ago when this building was still just an idea, and up 36 percent over last year - can be tracked directly to our emphasis on collaboration," Adams said. "The Kelley Engineering Center is a catalyst for collaboration, a building designed to fuel innovation."

The keynote speaker for the event, which begins at 10 a.m., is innovator, engineer and entrepreneur Jen-Hsun Huang, OSU engineering alumnus and co-founder, president and CEO of NVIDIA, the world leader in graphics processing technologies.

Huang has successfully merged engineering with entrepreneurship to grow NVIDIA into a company that employs 2,500 people, has sales of more than $2 billion, and supplies graphics processing units for products ranging from Microsoft's Xbox and Motorola's new 3G cell phones to the NASA workstations that navigate the Mars Rover.

The world's largest camera crane, developed by OSU alumnus Bob C. Johnson of Fluid Images, will be on hand to stream the event live via the internet at The 100-foot crane was used to film the 2002 Olympics as well as the sweeping cinematic scenes in Titanic, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and others.

The Kelley Engineering Center is funded by a $20 million gift from Martin and Judy Kelley, $20 million in matching funds from the state of Oregon and $5 million in private gifts. Martin Kelley is a 1950 OSU civil engineering alumnus who rose to vice president and chief engineer of Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc., one of the nation's largest construction firms.

Kelley personally oversaw much of the construction of the building that bears his name and now includes enough sustainable, "green" features that it is on track to gain a "Gold" LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This will make it the greenest academic engineering building in the U.S. and it is projected to be first Gold LEED certified new university building on the West Coast.

Portland architecture firm Yost Grube Hall Architecture designed the Kelley Engineering Center, successfully solving a range of design challenges.

"One design challenge was to create a humane environment symbolic of the advanced systems and research housed within the facility, while fitting in and relating to the historic OSU campus architecture," said Nels Hall, president of the company. "An integrated, holistic design process was utilized to develop cost-effective building concepts to reduce energy use, including natural daylight and natural ventilation throughout, while promoting communication and collaboration between faculty and students."

The construction contractor for the $45 million project was Skanska USA Building, Inc.

"The sustainable design projects that are built under the LEED certification program fit nicely within Skanska's environmental policy: Zero Environmental Impacts," said Steve Clem, Skanska's project manager. "As sustainable, green designers and builders, we can take that one step further and create buildings that have a net benefit to the environment, which is even more rewarding."

The grand opening ceremony of the Kelley Engineering Center will be the culminating event of a morning of departmental celebrations called "A Home for Innovation" throughout the College of Engineering, where visitors will hear about the latest research, meet innovators, and learn about future plans as OSU continues its drive to become a top-25 engineering school.

The departmental gatherings begin at 8:30 a.m. on October 29th, with a procession up Campus Way and into the Kelley Engineering Center for the grand opening ceremony starting at 10 a.m. For more information about the event and the new building, go to

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Ron Adams, 541-737-3101