Middlebury College Virtue Field House and Athletic District Plan
Cary, North Carolina is a vibrant community with a strong regional economy considered to be one of the best places to live in the country. Sasaki’s response to the town’s invited design competition creates a new benchmark for holistic wellness, a dynamic venue for sporting events and a place for residents to come together as a community.
The design concept for The Center is inspired by Cary’s historical importance as a regional crossroads and a gateway, critical to early trade routes which evolved into future rail and highway lines. The site, which is essentially a blank slate, is located adjacent to a suburban mall and plaza slated for redevelopment near the interchange of two major regional highways. The duality of the site influenced the design solution – on one side, cars are whizzing by at highway speeds while the other is nearer to smaller-scale retail and residential neighborhoods. In response, the project is at once bold and iconic while also humanly-scaled and inviting.
The landscape creates a progression of pedestrian experiences, guiding visitors to the ‘porch’ of the Center. The plaza provides convenient weekday community access but can be closed for weekend and large events. The entire plaza area accommodates both universal access and the movement of a large numbers of users.
A generous civic space is created at the ground level, linking the future multi-use district to the Center with a dynamic pedestrian plaza. The porch is the arrival court to both the Wellness and Event programs and is the unifying heart of the Center. An oculus is carved out of the roof, within which a grand spiral staircase connects users from ground to roof.
The event center and athletics programming includes 100,000 square feet of central competition space, a weight room, walking track, a 12 full-sized basketball courts that can be adjusted to accommodate other sporting events, and is even capable of transforming into a small arena with seating for at least 4,000 people – for championship games, non-sports performances, and other uses.
The Center is a one of a kind destination that celebrates the excitement of sports and competition, while simultaneously welcoming the Cary community to come together to socialize, recreate and pursue wellness. While the Event Center anchors the northern portion of the Center, Wellness programs anchor the southern and include fitness, multi-activity court, jogging track, multi-purpose space, fitness studios, outdoor fitness space, restaurant and teaching kitchen, childcare facilities, and a community room.
Shielded from the sights and sounds of the highway, the Center’s roof provides one of a kind opportunity to gather. The design team takes advantage of roof slopes, building orientation, thermal comfort and thoughtful programming to create a series of outdoor wellness and community focused spaces.
The Center’s sustainability strategies were developed from an holistic approach to the design that considered the building form, orientation, landscape and planting, water use, and passive strategies to support an environment that brings people together. We feel attracted to the natural world and want to connect with it. The design offers varied indoor-outdoor experiences in all seasons: shaded open spaces, views of the sky and greenery from the ground level, terraces, and the accessible and active green roof.
The project also maximizes renewable energy while sequestering carbon in the green roof and landscape. With passive strategies, the green roof slopes south to take advantage of the sun’s energy, while allowing for ample natural indirect light from the north.