The Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center is a transformational athletic expansion on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. In response to the client’s goal to recruit and inspire world-class student-athletes, designers created one of the most versatile practice, competition and recreation venues in the nation on a prominent yet constrained lakefront site.
The full-sized field on the second floor of Ryan Fieldhouse looks out directly to unobstructed views of Lake Michigan, and the domed space cantilevers over the outdoor path and seawall. The light-filled Walter Athletics Center houses academic support services for more than 500 student-athletes, as well as nutrition and dining centers, two sports performance centers, a cutting-edge sports medicine and training hub, locker rooms for eight varsity teams, and coaches’ offices. The wraparound design maximizes the spaces with views of Lake Michigan and visually connects the center to practice fields and the Chicago skyline beyond.
By focusing on student-athletes’ health and wellness, and connecting them more closely to the academic campus, this state-of-the art facility not only attracts and inspires top athletes, but also enhances campus life through shared-use athletic and recreation spaces.
“This is a transformational building, and has caused others to rethink what a training facility could be. There isn’t another indoor field house like it.” — Andrew Kelly
“The unique site dictated a special response, and the designers certainly delivered. The unique structure of the practice volume highlights the building’s imaging.” — Jon Niemuth
“The project reflects a wonderful design solution that utilizes simple, pure forms integrated into the site context. The use of materials, sophisticated brand integration and highlighted structural systems all add to the beauty of the design.” — Mark Williams