Today, universities are competing as never before. The challenge to admit, retain and grow the student body has expanded beyond providing a core curriculum to addressing issues of student life. Varsity sports and their venues have become a recruitment tool. The University Event Center is a prime example of converting a 1970’s utilitarian gymnasium into a 21st century multi-use arena and event center that is relevant to the entire student body.
The additions and renovations to the Event Center are about creating a quality student life experience. The major feature of the addition is the transparent concourse and lobby. The excitement generated by the patrons attending an event is now visually connected to the street traffic. In return the image of the arena transcends from a somber fortress-like shell into a lively energetic destination for the University.
The two-story high glass concourse structure wraps the north and east edges of the existing arena and extends a finger eastward to create a new lobby, visible from both the street and Event Center parking. A ribbon of maroon metal siding floats above and weaves throughout the glazed facades terminating into a grand arch marking the entrance.
The quality experience continues within the Event Center. The new lobby introduces guests to an expanded Concourse Level containing amenities of concessions, souvenirs and restrooms. From the concourse patrons enter the renovated arena through vomitories to the seating. Every seat has been enhanced beyond the original wooden bleachers and the revised bowl-like arrangement brings renewed energy to the event.
Select patrons are invited to attend events via the President’s Club Room. This additional space, located above the concourse level is trimmed with reclaimed wood from the original bleachers. The existing wall has been removed to allow for cantilevered seating into the arena.
The new practice facility at the northwest corner contains a large gymnasium space for basketball and volleyball, and a lower volume for wrestling. These two interlocking volumes are sheathed in gold and maroon brick. The spaces are located at Arena Level and are designed to function with the arena or separately. These facilities accommodate the practice needs of the varsity teams and the student requirements for Athletics, UREC and summer camps. Additional spaces at the Arena Level accommodate sports media, conferencing, the officials’ locker room as well as additional restroom facilities.
The overall design investigates opportunities throughout that enhance the sustainable nature of the architecture. The entire facility is designed to seek a LEED Silver rating. Being resource effective is the underlying principle that guides the design. Existing materials were recycled and reused where possible.
Together the additions and renovations bring the University Event Center into a more comprehensive experience for the patrons of the University. The Event Center has become a destination for students and has significantly increased the attendance for varsity sporting events. Its transparency initiates the energy of these events from the street to the seat.