Award Winner - May 2012
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Ithaca College Athletics & Events Center

Ithaca, New York

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Moody-Nolan Inc. in Columbus, Ohio

Size: 178,000 square feet

Project Cost: $55 million

Quick Tour:

  • Indoor Athletics/Events fieldhouse
  • Outdoor multipurpose turf field
  • 50-meter competition natatorium

The central idea for the new 178,000-square-foot Athletics and Events Center at Ithaca College arose out of the analogy of the student recreational athlete breathing and translating this core concept into the architecture. Why not design a building that efficiently breathes on its own? From this dynamic inspiration, the building derives its shape and form to allow the building to facilitate air moving through natural ventilation.

The program for the Athletics and Events Center focuses on three spaces: the indoor fieldhouse, natatorium and outdoor turf field. The fieldhouse needed to meet the practice, competition, intramurals, club and recreational needs of as many students as possible. The design allows for multipurpose uses including a 200-meter track with runways for long jump and pole vaults, as well as sizing and marking the floor for lacrosse, field hockey, soccer and tennis. A separate throwing cage allows for simultaneous weight throw practice and competition. Elaborate netting allows the fieldhouse to be subdivided so the infield can be used at the same time as the track. The fieldhouse is also used for concerts and speaking events, so substantial acoustic panels on the roof, both metal and fiber wall panels on all walls and a perforated metal damping box on the north end were added to provide excellent acoustics.

The 50-meter-by-25-yard Olympic-sized indoor pool with 1- and 3-meter springboards on platforms allows for flexibility in the programming. The larger pool and two bulkheads allow for simultaneous swimming and diving practice, leaving the pool open for recreational use most of the day. A movable floor provides flexibility for youth swimming classes, adult aerobics, recreational swimming or competition. A sparger system adds bubbles to make the water surface more visible and softer for divers. A 12-person spa allows divers to warm up during events, and students to enjoy for recreational use. Seating, both permanent and movable, can accommodate about 1,350 spectators.

Innovative pool filtration saves more than 1 million gallons of water each year. And mechanically, the space uses cooled air to reduce moisture and then reheating, which is more efficient and will last longer than typical dehumidification units.

An 81,000-square-foot multi-sport synthetic turf provides space for recreation, athletics and club teams. Field lighting with the most current technology allows evening use and regional broadcast while minimizing the impact on neighbors. Bleacher seating steps with the hillside for 1,000 spectators. The field and grading location allows for a future eight-lane 400-meter track.

The design focuses on maximizing views in and around the building to establish a strong connection with the beautiful wooded hills. The majority of the enclosure system uses three lighter shades of color in a random order to provide texture along the face of the building—much like the mosaic of a tree covering. Vertical blue fin elements break up the mass along the fieldhouse and pool to visually reduce the perceived length.

The fieldhouse uses the stack effect of the warm air rising to push warmer, hotter air out of the higher louvers in the core tower without requiring any mechanical means. Cooler air is drawn into the building through lower louvers on the prevailing wind side of the tower. The height of the tower allows for this differential air pressure to be shut off when the temperatures are within a set range, primarily in the spring and fall. The more people and activity in the fieldhouse, the better the system works. When the natural ventilation system is not in use, an underground perimeter displacement heating and cooling system focuses on the lower 15 feet of space for increased efficiency.

The entire building was funded through grants and named donations with the infrastructure paid out of college bonds. The design team worked with the owner to identify locations for graphics honoring the donors and assisted the college in developing suggested naming rights opportunities.

This project, driven by many topographical, cultural, sustainable design factors will likely be eligible for LEED Gold certification.


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

"I loved the exterior materials and overall look and function of the design solution. The tower stands as a beacon, beckoning to come and play."

Scott Ferrell

"Good integration of form and function to create an iconic focal point."

Amado Fernandez

"The building integrates nicely into the landscape while bringing life to the large activity spaces within. An abundance of natural light and open spaces within the building energize the interior making the facility a welcome destination for athletes and spectators alike."

David Sprague

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Aquatic Consultant: Counsilman-Hunsaker

Landscape Architect: MSI 2K Design

MEP Consultant: Korda Engineering

Structural Engineer: Korda Engineering

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