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Northwestern University opens Ryan Fieldhouse

Northwestern University has opened the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Fieldhouse multi-sport training facility on the university’s Evanston, Illinois, campus.

Designed by global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will as part of a transformational multi-purpose centre, the glass, metal and stone complex – with unobstructed views east and north toward Lake Michigan – will integrate with existing athletic and recreational facilities, student residence halls and parking facilities.

It will create a sustainable environment that is sensitive to the lakefront setting.

Ryan Fieldhouse provides year-round practice and training space for all Northwestern student-athletes, and includes Wilson Field, named in recognition of a gift from alumni Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson, for football, lacrosse, soccer and other varsity programmes.

The indoor facility will also serve as recreation and event space for campus programmes such as University convocations, the annual philanthropic Dance Marathon, and other community functions.

Together with the Mark and Kimbra Walter Athletics Center, which will open in summer of 2018 and was also designed by Perkins+Will, the state-of-the art facilities are designed to attract and inspire world-class student-athletes.

Deputy director of athletics Brian Baptiste said:

The new Ryan Fieldhouse is a transformative project for the Northwestern Department of Athletics & Recreation.

Throughout the collaborative journey from concept to design to completion, our partners at Perkins+Will have provided critical expertise. The result is a facility that our University is extremely proud of, and one that will benefit the entire campus community.

Perkins+Will design principal Bryan Schabel said:

Our design goals were to make the most of the spectacular site overlooking Lake Michigan and create an exciting presence near the northern entry to the Evanston Campus.

We focused on enhancing student-athletes’ health and wellness, and connecting them more closely to the academic campus. The design for Ryan Fieldhouse and the soon-to-open Mark and Kimbra Walter Athletics Center supports Northwestern’s goal to recruit the best student-athletes.

The all-glass north facing façade provides unobstructed views of the lake and the beach and fills Ryan Fieldhouse with natural light. The fieldhouse dome, specifically designed to accommodate the unique kicking, punting and functional needs of the athletic programmes, is supported by a dramatic series of long-span steel arches that relate to the 10-yard grid of the football field.

The fieldhouse also is responsive to community and environmental interests.

Perkins+Will’s global design director Ralph Johnson said:

By placing the fieldhouse on level two and cantilevering the space over the floor below, we were able to maintain a pedestrian path along the lakefront.

This move enhances the massing of the building and continues the public space through the campus.

A sculpted coastal protection wall protects the building, while maintaining use of beach.

Perkins+Will has collaborated on the Northwestern project with associate architect HOK; civil engineer and landscape architect SmithGroupJJR; and, structural engineer WSP USA.

The new facility is part of a growing portfolio of Perkins+Will sports, recreation and entertainment projects that support the firm’s focus on holistic human health and well-being.

Among other Perkins+Will projects are the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center, which recently broke ground at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the University of Michigan, Crisler Center Renovation + Expansion in Ann Arbor, Michigan; University of Cincinnati, Richard E. Lindner Center, in Cincinnati, Ohio; and the University of Oregon, Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon.

Image credit: Steinkamp Photography