Project Category : School
Total Construction Cost : Est. $35 million
Total Gross Square Feet : 160,000
Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $219
How was the facility funded? : Private donations
The William Boyce Thompson Field House is a major component in the schools South Campus Master Plan, which was also developed by ARC. New underground parking allows direct access not only to the field house but other portions of the existing athletic complex including the hockey rink, squash courts, gymnasium, swimming pool, and fitness center. Utilizing the height of the facility required by sports clearances also provided an opportunity to house additional programs at the higher level. This included a new wrestling facility and a multifunctional space used by students, teachers, and alumni that overlooks south campus.
The building is oriented with its long facades facing the north and south. This alignment allows for large expansive windows along the north facade letting in natural light within the space and a visual connection to the surrounding athletic fields. The west facade makes use of a translucent wall panel system blocking direct sun but bringing in diffused light. The field house space makes use of light colors along the interior walls to reflect the natural light. Sports flooring colors were used to express the school brand of Exeter Red and Grey.
The exterior of the building simultaneously complements the historic surroundings and helps to create a forward looking architectural expression along with the adjacent Center for Theater and Dance designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects. The two projects were designed with close collaboration between the design teams and the PEA working committee. To acknowledge its context, cues for both new structures are taken from neighboring existing buildings, including the 1969 Kallmann McKinnell and Wood, Love Gymnasium and the original 1916 Thompson Gymnasium by Frank Arnold Colby with Cram & Ferguson as consulting architects. The materials of exposed concrete and limestone respectively, are the basis for the exterior pallet. The architectural aim was to carry a similar, lighter tone materials. To imitate the aesthetic of a limestone building, but without the cost, the design used Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete Panels (GFRC) on its upper portion. Designed to be larger than limestone, the panels create a monolithic expression similar to that of concrete at the athletic complex. GFRC fins were used to break up the long pedestrian exposed north facade and to create texture and depth with dramatic shadows in the eastern light. As an additional means to differentiate from the rest of the surrounding buildings, the base of the field house building is built with a dark and durable natural stone. The combination of these contrasting materials creates a design part of a light shell reminiscent of the adjacent concrete and limestone, on top of a dark, solid base that is connected to the surrounding landscape.