Perkins+Will breaks ground in Illinois

Nick Myall
Wednesday 18 Nov 2015

A Perkins+Will-designed complex transforms sports and recreational opportunities on Evanston campus in the USA

Northwestern University in Illinois, USA broke ground on November 13th on the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Fieldhouse and Mark and Kimbra Walter Athletics Center, designed by global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will as a transformational multi-purpose centre on the university’s Evanston campus. Designed to inspire world-class student-athletes, Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center will provide the Athletics and Recreation Department with state-of-the-art training spaces, indoor and outdoor practice and competition fields, natatorium expansion and administrative offices. The horizontal glass and stone complex - with unobstructed views east and north toward Lake Michigan and south toward Chicago - will not only integrate the existing athletic and recreational facilities, student residence halls and parking spaces, but also create a sustainable environment that is sensitive to the site’s natural setting. 

The Ryan Fieldhouse portion of the building will feature a large indoor multipurpose fieldhouse, providing space for football practice as well as Olympic sports team practices and competitions, recreational activities, and non-sporting events. The Walter Athletics Center will be a state-of-the-art facility housing academic support services for more than 500 student-athletes, a nutrition centre and dining facility, a sports performance centre, and office space for coaches and administrators. It will also house the Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Wing, named in recognition of their most recent gift to the university. 

The Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center are among several major Perkins+Will projects at Northwestern University. The Segal Visitors Center in Evanston opened in 2015, and the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is under construction on the downtown Chicago campus. The new complex continues Perkins+Will’s history of work on athletics centres at schools in the US and Canada – facilities that help build campus spirit and extend the appeal of the institution to new recruits and alumni. 

“The Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center are designed to meet the needs of all sports enthusiasts on campus – from those interested in staying fit to those playing at the highest level of Big Ten athletics,” said Perkins+Will design principal Bryan Schabel, “The buildings will incorporate the leading features of fitness design to promote student wellness and interaction.” 

Ryan Fieldhouse and the Walter Athletics Center will be located adjacent to the existing Henry Crown Sports Pavilion/Norris Aquatics Center and Combe Tennis Center. Ryan Fieldhouse will include: 

  • Wilson Field, a full-sized indoor athletic field named in recognition of a gift from alumni Stephen R. and Susan K. Wilson. 
  • Strength and conditioning space for Olympic sports teams. 
  • Seating to accommodate campus events such as University convocations, Dance Marathon and other community functions. 
  • Sports medicine facilities. 
  • Locker rooms for multiple Wildcats varsity programs. 

The Walter Athletics Center will include: 

  • Headquarters for Northwestern football, including coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and locker rooms. 
  • A football strength and conditioning centre. 
  • Offices for coaches of numerous varsity teams. 
  • A nutrition centre and dining facility. 
  • Academic and professional development support offices. 

The groundbreaking was attended by Northwestern President Morton Schapiro; Jim Phillips, vice president for athletics and recreation; Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald, as well as the Ryans and the Walters. 


Nick Myall

News Editor

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