Northwestern University Ryan/Walter Athletics Center

Perkins And Will


With its adjacency to Lake Michigan and visible connections to both the University’s central campus and the Chicago skyline, the goal was to maximize transparency and views while invigorating the student-athlete experience. Building functions are organized, both vertically and horizontally, to provide lake exposure to every space possible; from recruiting spaces to administrative offices to the spaces that the student-athletes use most often. Lighting and temperature are all adjustable, and materials and furniture were carefully selected and tested to ensure student-athletes comfort. Two formal entries provide public access from the north for Fieldhouse events, and a secured entry from the southern campus side for athletes, coaches and athletic administrators. The fieldhouse dome maximizes the interior volume for the critical sport clearances, and a custom façade delivers mullion-free panoramic views to the lake and adjacent beach and captures the natural light from the north. Branding is a key element throughout, telling the storied history of Northwestern athletics. In the main athletic entry lobby, a three-story LED screen cycles through high-impact motion visuals of a student-athlete in action showcasing each of the program’s 19 sports. Customized team environmental graphics used throughout key student-athlete spaces and high traffic corridors instill pride in the Northwestern Athletics and their specific sport identity and give the student-athletes a sense of belonging.

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