Innovative Roof Dormers Replicate Carrier Dome Illumination

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Photos courtesy of CannonDesign

Practice facility designers often go to great lengths to mimic the conditions in which athletes compete, right down to how fields and courts are constructed and marked. Architects at CannonDesign went to great heights to bring the same type of natural lighting to the Clifford J. Ensley Athletic Center as experienced by Syracuse University football players inside the Carrier Dome during home games. An innovative alternating dormer approach stretching the length of the field in 10-yard increments uses three-sided Kalwall construction in each opening to bask the building interior with light from 60-plus feet above. “They had this idea that they wanted to practice like they play, and the Carrier Dome has a translucent ceiling, so they wanted to get as much natural daylight as possible into the middle of the space,” says John Reed, a design principal in CannonDesign’s New York office. “We came up with this idea of lapped dormer windows, which gave everybody a bit of a pause on the construction side when we proposed it, because they were worried about snow and leaks and all kinds of stuff. It’s a pre-engineered building, but it took a lot of work to get it to be as simple as it looks in the end.” Moreover, because the building also has to stand up to men’s and women’s lacrosse, a field-level cinderblock wall is accommodated by taking support beams that typically widen inward as they rise to meet the ceiling and inverting them 180 degrees, which allows for a perfectly vertical interior wall face. Says Reed of the 87,000-square-foot project, which cost less than $12 million in 2015 dollars, “It’s a pretty sophisticated shed.”

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