makes waves in more ways than one
University's first new athletic facility in 68 years,
the Gerald Ratner Athletics center promises to draw attention
for its form as well as its function. Intended to provide the
University with first-class athletic facilities and a new hub
of activity along Ellis Avenue, the center was designed by Cesar
Pelli, who also designed the world's tallest building in the
world, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In
February, the Board of Trustees approved Pelli's design for
the center, to be located along the west side of Ellis Avenue
between 55th and 56th Streets.
for the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center looks modern but
echoes Gothic architecture with its use of light.
divided the center into three major sections: the gymnasiums
to the south and the natatorium to the north, connected by a
center section incorporating a fitness center, classrooms, locker
rooms, and offices. The two-story building's exterior will feature
multicolored brick in muted shades, as well as frosted and clear
glass to let in light and create a busy, inviting look. The
glass curtain wall on the east will slope outward and upward,
separated from the north and south ends of the ridged, metal
roof by a band of glass. The roof, a flattened s-curve, will
appear to float in the air, suspended by cables attached to
five masts that peak 100 feet from the ground.
the athletics center's fluid forms will both convey the vibrancy
of its functions and help create a new and fresh entry gate
to the campus," said Pelli.
building of the 21st century, not the 14th century," John Syvertsen,
president of O'Donnell, Wicklund, Pigozzi and Peterson Architects
Inc., told the Chicago Tribune. The Chicago-based firm
is working with Cesar Pelli & Associates on the project. "This
wasn't an attempt to dismiss Gothic architecture. In fact, with
its masts pulling the roof and the massive light that will come
in, it's a tribute to the Gothic style."
Hugo F. Sonnenschein called the design a "triumph," adding,
"Pelli has thoroughly considered the various practical needs
of our students, faculty, and staff, and he has envisioned a
building that elegantly addresses those needs. The Gerald Ratner
Athletics Center promises to be a proud addition to the magnificent
architectural traditions of our University."
the building focuses on a circular, sky-lit atrium, which will
house the University's student-athlete Hall of Fame and a juice
bar with seating. An Olympic-size swimming pool sits to the
north. Just west of the pool will be the women's recreational
and staff locker rooms, as well as two family locker rooms and
those for the varsity athletic teams. The laundry area, team
equipment storage, and physical-therapy rooms will be nearby.
The floor plan for the ground level also includes a weight-training
room, offices for center staff and physical-education faculty,
a conference room, a video-viewing room, and a recreational
gymnasium. The competition gym to the south should seat 2,000
spectators and will convert into two practice gyms when the
bleacher seats are retracted.
another set of bleachers overlooks the pool, with the men's
recreational and staff locker rooms behind them. Plans for the
second floor also include a cardiovascular fitness center, more
offices, and a multipurpose room to be used for dance and martial
arts. The center will have a rooftop sun terrace, too.
a continuing conversation with Cesar Pelli about the form and
function of this building," said Thomas Weingartner, chair of
the physical education & athletics department and director of
intercollegiate athletics. "And we believe our community will
benefit from this building both because of its architectural
elegance and the huge contribution it will make to the quality
of our programs."
is named for former varsity baseball player Gerald Ratner, PhB'35,
JD'37, whose $15-million gift ("Chicago Journal," October/98)
made the $35 million new facility possible. Construction is
scheduled to begin at the end of 2000. The architectural firms
will design the interior, including the interior finish, furniture,
and equipment choices, over the next year. The building should
open in summer 2002.
is an abundance of motion and energy in this design--and what
could be more appropriate for a physical education and athletics
center?" said Curt Heuring, the University architect. "Pelli
has created a design that will be a notable addition to Chicago's
rich architectural heritage and an almost certain landmark."
all of the architectural drawings, peruse the floor plans, and
learn more about the project team, visit the Web site at www.uchicago.edu/docs/mp-ite/construction/ratner/rat-index.html.