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International architects picked for new athletics center, dorms

Architect Cesar Pelli—perhaps best known for designing the world’s tallest building, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—has been chosen to design the University’s new Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, scheduled to open in 2002 at 55th Street and Ellis Avenue.The University has also picked architect Ricardo Legorreta to design two planned residence halls.

President Hugo Sonnenschein appointed a selection committee of trustees, faculty, officers, and staff. They recommended Pelli and Legorreta, who were approved by the campus planning committee and board of trustees. Meanwhile, Curt Heuring was appointed university architect and will implement and manage the campus master plan.

To be built next to Stagg Field, the athletics facility will include a 50-meter swimming pool, practice gymnasiums, a fitness center, dance classrooms, locker rooms, and offices for athletics staff and faculty. A new parking structure, which Pelli also will design, will be located across the street, near Court Theatre and the Smart Museum.

“My inspiration for the athletics center will come from the rich campus context surrounding the center’s future site,” says Pelli. “As is true for all of my designs, the aesthetic qualities of the athletics center will be unique to its location and purpose.”

The residence halls, which should open in 2001, will be erected north of the Joseph Regenstein Library on 56th Street between Ellis and University Avenues.

“The architecture of a building should lift the inhabitants’ spirits,” says Legorreta, who has designed residential-community housing and individual homes throughout Mexico and the American Southwest, as well as university buildings and residence halls at such institutions as Stanford and UCLA. He adds, “My focus for the residence halls will be to design a friendly, open environment where students also have peace and privacy.”

Both Pelli and Legorreta have impressive credentials. Pelli received his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois and then worked for ten years in the offices of Eero Saarinen—the Finnish-American architect who led the University’s second master plan in the 1950s and designed the Laird Bell Quadrangle and Woodward Court. Pelli founded Cesar Pelli & Associates in 1977, the same year he began a seven-year tenure as dean of the Yale University School of Architecture. His designs include the World Financial Center and the Museum of Modern Art expansion in New York, Japan’s National Museum of Contemporary Art, Duke’s Cameron Athletic Building Annex, and Princeton’s DeNunzio Pool. In 1989, Cesar Pelli & Associates received the American Institute of Architects Firm Award; in 1995, the AIA gave Pelli its gold medal for lifetime achievement.

Legorreta received his bachelor’s degree in architecture at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and worked for 12 years with Mexican architect Jose Villagran before founding Legorreta Arquitectos 30 years ago. First noted for his Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City, Legorreta has been a professor of architecture at Harvard, the University of Texas, and UCLA. His U.S. works include the San Antonio Public Library, the Pershing Square city park in Los Angeles, and the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. A member of the International Academy of Architecture and an honorary fellow of the AIA, Legorreta was a jury member for the Pritzker Architecture Prize from 1981 to 1994. In 1994, he received the AIA Award for Religious Architecture for his design of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua.

Pelli’s and Legorreta’s works will join the campus buildings designed by Saarinen and other prominent architects, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (the School of Social Service Administration Building) and Frank Lloyd Wright (Robie House).

New university architect Curt Heuring is charged with coordinating the construction and redevelopment called for in the new master plan. Heuring was recently director of project management at Harvard, where he played a key role in the master plan for its North Yard, athletic complex, and business school. He also oversaw renovation of Harvard’s student housing, law library, central admissions offices, and research facilities. Heuring earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has worked for Bryn Mawr College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Boston University, and the city of Boston.

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