With the recent construction of the largest permanent indoor practice facility among Ivy League schools, Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., recently changed the game for its varsity student athletes.
The bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snowfall of New Hampshire winters make outdoor training and practice for Dartmouth’s field teams nearly impossible for several months of the year. After sharing one 20,000-square-foot indoor field at the school’s Leverone Field House for years, the athletes were long overdue for a facility that could accommodate multiple teams and practices.
Designs for what would become a new 70,000-square-foot indoor practice facility (IPF) began nearly seven years ago with the Hampstead, N.H.–based general contractor Dutton & Garfield, the Watertown, Mass.–based architect Sasaki, and Colchester, Vt.–headquartered general contractor Engelberth Construction leading the charge. However, in 2016, the Hanover Planning Board denied the permit, stalling the project for several years. Dartmouth appealed this decision all the way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which finally ruled in Dartmouth’s favor late in 2018. After a $27 million fundraising campaign, construction on the new IPF began in January 2020.
With a successful track record of field house projects at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., and Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N. H., the design team already had products in mind to specify. It selected Metl-Span products for their durability, insulation characteristics, and efficient installation. Dartmouth’s IPF is clad in Metl-Span’s CF Architectural Vertical Wall Panels featuring three custom colors: thunderground gray, deep silver, and shadow gray. CF Architectural Horizontal Wall Panels were also used in three more custom colors: gray shower, anchor gray, and deep space.
Dutton & Garfield vice president Keith Wentworth explains that the colors are staggered across the exterior, making for a striking and memorable appearance. “Following the drawings to make sure we had the right panel in the right spot was critical,” Wentworth says, “because they were all different lengths.”
An existing tennis facility near the IPF posed another challenge. With only 6 feet of clearance between the IPF and the tennis building walkway, Wentworth explains, “we had really small lifts and specialized equipment we had to use to install those panels.” Even with the tight clearance, the interlocking CF panels were installed quickly and easily.
Completed in April 2020, just a few months after construction began, the climate-controlled facility is now home to eight different varsity teams: men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, football, women’s rugby, and softball. The 280-by-200-foot practice space and 56,000-square-foot artificial turf field nearly triple the spaces in the Leverone field house, and are covered in FieldTurf, an advanced turf with higher resilience.
In an interview with Dartmouth Sports, director of athletics and recreation Harry Sheehy said, “This facility will truly be a game-changer for our coaches and student-athletes in terms of both training and recruiting.”