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Charles Benson Bear '39 Recreation and Athletic Center - Grinnell College

Grinnell, Iowa
Construction Cost: $81 million
Area / Square Feet: 275,500
Occupancy Date: August 2010

Grinnell College’s master plan called for consolidating all sports facilities north of the main campus. The majority of outdoor facilities had already been relocated; The Bear, with all of its indoor facilities, completed this transformation and created a comprehensive sports precinct.

The L-shaped facility encompasses two sides of the football field, with three anchor venues — a 50-meter pool, the Darby Gymnasium and a field house — sunk into the ground at field level to minimize massing. Activity spaces located between the main venues include three racquetball courts, a multipurpose/dance room, an auxiliary gym, and a climbing and bouldering area. While some venues are physically separated at street level, they are connected at field level by an underground link. The area between the gym and fieldhouse serves the men’s and women’s intercollegiate teams with locker suites and sports medicine and equipment-issue areas at field level, and athletic departmental offices directly above on street level.

Exterior gym and pool pavilions extend to one another with dramatic cantilevered entry canopies. Likewise, the two lobbies with glass curtain walls look out to each other. The main volumes of the gym, field house and pool are two-tone brick, with clerestory windows just below the roof overhang.