ITHACA, N.Y. – Ithaca College’s Athletics and Events Center was recently named the winner of an Innovative Architecture & Design Award from Recreation Management magazine. The A & E Center, which opened in the fall of 2011, was designed by Moody-Nolan Inc.
Recreation Management praised the architects’ decision to apply the concept of breathing – by the students and others using the facility – to the actual design, saying “the building derives its shape and form to allow the building to facilitate air moving through natural ventilation.”
The A & E Center includes a field house and aquatics pavilion in the main building, which also houses athletic training and strength training facilities, a “wet” classroom for athletic and academic programs, a hall of fame display, a press box, athletics offices, team rooms and locker rooms. An adjacent outdoor stadium with lighted turf field and an outdoor tennis facility round out the complex.
A total of 11 of Ithaca’s 27 teams compete at the A & E Center: field hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, and wrestling.
”We are very pleased that our Athletics & Events Center was featured as an award winner for its innovative architectural design,” said Ken Kutler, Ithaca’s director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports. “The facility is a significant addition to our athletics, events and recreational sports operation at Ithaca. Our students, coaches and staff rave about its various venues and realize how fortunate we are to have had the wonderful financial support from alumni and friends to make this dream come true. “
Judges cited the blending of form and function in the facility, with David Sprague — a lead designer with the architecture firm Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative-- praising the building’s “bringing life to the large activity spaces within.”
Those large indoor spaces – the field house and the natatorium – are used by nearly all of Ithaca’s intercollegiate teams (more than 700 student-athletes suit up for the Bombers) and countless others through intramural, club and recreational sport use.
The field house has already hosted the Bomber Wrestling Invitational, the Empire 8 Indoor Track & Field Championships and the Empire 8 Men’s Tennis Championships, among other varsity events. The arena’s track & field features include a 200-meter track, runways for the long jump, triple jump and pole vault events and a separate throwing cage. The surface can be marked and sized to accommodate use by the field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and tennis teams.
In just a year since the A & E Center’s opening, the natatorium has also hosted a number of big events, including the inaugural Ithaca Invitational last November, with more to come this year. The Bombers will host the Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association and Empire 8 Championships for the first time and were recently chosen as the site of the first NCAA Regional Diving Qualifier. Innovations like a movable floor and the two-bulkhead set-up allow for nearly continuous recreational use of the pool, which has included youth swimming classes and adult aerobics.
The pool also demonstrates the college’s commitment to sustainability: over one million gallons of water are saved annually through the innovative pool filtration system and the space uses cooled air to reduce moisture as a more efficient method of dehumidification.
The environmentally beneficial features of the rest of the field house include a ventilation system that’s built around the facility’s most visible aspect – the signature tower that overlooks the facility.
The tower has louvers on its prevailing wind side; the narrow slits allow cool air into the building, while the warmer air inside the building rises to the level of the tower’s higher louvers and is pushed out.
“It’s rewarding to see that the environmentally friendly features of the A&E Center as incorporated by the architects at Moody-Nolan were recognized as well,” said Kutler.