In order to satisfy the space and programming demands of a modern Big Ten athletic department, the University of Illinois decided to build a new on-campus indoor athletic practice facility. Intended primarily for the football program with some limited secondary use by soccer, baseball, softball and golf athletic programs, the building would need to be highly functional, efficient and flexible while blending in to the University’s campus renowned for its beauty and traditional collegiate design.
RATIO designed the resulting Irwin Indoor Practice Facility to respond to the historic context of the adjacent Memorial Stadium, as well as the more recent Intramural Physical Education building. In an effort to reduce the impact of the new facility on this important site, the design team recessed the structure into the ground approximately eight feet to be compatible with the scale of the adjacent buildings. Additionally, the facility’s exterior is composed of brick and limestone detailing to reflect the traditional materials used on existing campus buildings.
The facility features an eighty-yard practice field, a training room and associated support spaces, and natural lighting that spans the length of the facility.