PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In a significant step toward creating a state-of-the-art indoor turf facility at its Erickson Athletic Complex, Brown University has selected Sasaki as design architect.
A vote by the Corporation of Brown University’s Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning approved the selection of Sasaki, which is home to a dedicated sports, wellness and student life practice composed of architects, landscape architects, planners, programmers and designers who specialize in athletics and recreation projects at schools and colleges.
Working with teams in Brown Athletics and Facilities Management, as well as lead project contractor Consigli Construction, Sasaki will lead design for an indoor field house that will advance Brown’s capacity for varsity, intramural and recreational sports activity. As envisioned, the 76,000-square-foot facility will replace Meister-Kavan Field, moving existing activities to an enclosed building and mitigating noise impacts on local neighbors.
University Architect Craig Barton managed the architect selection process. He said Sasaki’s track record in design for athletics positions the firm to lead a collaborative process to create a facility that will help student-athletes compete at the highest level and engage more campus community members in club sports, intramural activities and wellness initiatives.
“One of the most essential criteria in finding the right partner was success in designing active indoor athletics facilities on other campuses,” Barton said. “Sasaki brings deep expertise in collegiate athletics projects and directly relevant experience creating indoor facilities that provide effective training spaces for student-athletes and recreational users throughout the year.”
“Sasaki brings deep expertise in collegiate athletics projects and directly relevant experience creating indoor facilities that provide effective training spaces for student-athletes and recreational users throughout the year.”
Craig Barton, Brown University Architect
Equally important, Barton noted, is Sasaki’s comfort and skill in addressing transitions in building scale in a location where institutional facilities meet residential neighborhoods. The project site is located within Brown’s athletic complex directly behind the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center. Given the proximity to privately owned homes, one project priority will be close consideration of the massing of the building, its materials palette and how those integrate effectively with the local neighborhood.
The selection of Sasaki follows the unanimous approval of Brown’s new Institutional Master Plan by the Providence City Plan Commission in September. The turf facility was one of two significant new construction projects included in the plan, and the city’s approval followed a series of community meetings in which Brown leaders detailed plans with local residents, neighborhood associations, community groups and elected officials.
A leader in sports design
After announcing its plans for the indoor turf facility in June 2023, Brown reviewed a large pool of interested architecture firms and narrowed to a list of four that contributed proposals and participated in interviews with multiple Brown stakeholders. Sasaki emerged as the committee’s recommendation based on its experience, expertise and the strength of the firm’s communication, community engagement and project management skills.
Sasaki is an integrated architecture, planning, landscape and design firm with offices in Boston, Denver, New York and Shanghai. Since its sports practice was established in the early 1990s, the firm has worked extensively on the programming and design of sports facilities for a range of leading academic institutions, including projects on multiple Ivy League campuses.
Bill Massey leads Sasaki’s sports practice and will serve as principal-in-charge for the firm’s project team for the indoor turf facility at Brown.
“This project offers a wonderful opportunity to marry our appreciation for campus placemaking with our sports design expertise to create a one-of-a-kind high-performance training venue in support of Brown’s student-athletes and campus community as a whole,” Massey said. “We’re excited to design a new facility that Brown has established as a key project for the long-term planning of this active campus district, and we’re thrilled to partner with Brown and Consigli Construction.”
“This project offers a wonderful opportunity to marry our appreciation for campus placemaking with our sports design expertise to create a one-of-a-kind high-performance training venue in support of Brown’s student-athletes and campus community as a whole."
Bill Massey, Sasaki, principal-in-charge
The building will replace Meister-Kavan Field with an indoor facility featuring a turf playing surface, an entry lobby, restrooms and space for equipment storage. It will address a critical infrastructure need for Brown Athletics — a lack of indoor training space for field sports. Given weather conditions in New England, Brown’s football, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, field hockey, baseball and softball teams have insufficient time for outdoor training from November through April. This puts teams at a competitive disadvantage compared with schools in different climates or with indoor practice facilities. An indoor field house will provide a controlled environment for year-round training, regardless of weather.
The facility will also allow Brown to expand intramural sports programs and grow undergraduate participation in recreation, creating a new space for year-round wellness activities ranging from soccer and kickball to flag football, ultimate frisbee and group fitness classes. Brown Athletics administrators note that there is high demand for physical fitness activities, and new intramural programs made possible by an indoor facility could more than double the number of student participants to in excess of 3,000.
“This building will serve as a dynamic, in-demand space that provides opportunity for varsity sports training, club and intramural sports as well as general recreation,” said Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Grace Calhoun. “Not only will it strengthen our teams’ ability to train and compete at the highest level, it will also support our goal of making physical fitness a critical factor in every Brown community member’s experience.”
Moving current sports activities from Meister-Kavan Field to an indoor facility will also mitigate noise and other impacts to nearby residential neighborhoods, project planners said. Because the building will not be a spectator venue, Brown leaders anticipate no increase in traffic or parking congestion.
With the selection of the architect complete, project leaders at Brown, Sasaki and Consigli will partner on a monthslong design process that will include consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. Construction for the indoor turf facility is targeted to begin in Summer 2024 and last approximately 18 months, with the building estimated to open in time for the Spring 2026 athletics season.
The University expects the project to be funded in its entirety by donors.