2019 Field House Renovation University of Minnesota

Our Journey

Constructed in the early 1900’s, this structure originally functioned as an airplane hangar in the state of Washington. After World War II, it was transported to its current location on the University of Minnesota campus. Located on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities campus, the University Field House has been a focal point for recreational and athletic activities on campus since 1949. Named the Indoor Sports Building until 1954, the University Field House is managed by University Recreation and Wellness and was renovated in 2019. The University Field House provides a vital place for students to participate in sports and activities throughout the year, and is especially valuable as an indoor facility during the long Minnesota winter. Students involved in Intramural teams, Sport Clubs, Physical Education classes, and open recreation use the space year-round. The University Field House renovation was primarily supported by Minnesota State’s Higher Education Asset Preservation and Repair (HEAPR) funds and supplemented with University funding.

The Value on Campus Recreation

Renovation of the Field House was a critical component of realizing goals established in the most recent UMTC Campus Master Plan. One recommendation to come out of the Master Plan includes: “reconfiguration, intensification and selective replacement of facilities is anticipated to accommodate the needs of athletics, recreational sports and related academic programs”.

The University of Minnesota’s mission is threefold including research and discovery, teaching and learning, and outreach and public service. This facility assists with the teaching and learning of our students by hosting Kinesiology classes, enhances campus life by facilitating involvement, social integration, and engagement with our student body as well as creating opportunities to be physically active and allows for community outreach by bringing people to campus for events. This project is also consistent with the guiding principles of our mission to be “conscious of and responsive to the needs of the many communities it is committed to serving” and “inspires, sets high expectations for, and empowers the individuals within its community”.

Impact on Recreation Program

The University’s ROTC program starts daily programming by conducting conditioning drills starting at 6:15am. Our Intramural Sports program provides annual competitions in the Field House for over 30 teams with 350+ participants in cornhole, soccer, and tennis. Our Sport Club program has a total of 26 clubs with indoor/outdoor teams in Men’s and Women’s Soccer and Ultimate Frisbee who practice and compete in this venue on a daily basis. School of Kinesiology classes operate Monday - Friday mornings offering 34 sections with a total of 1,010+ students per academic year. Intercollegiate Men’s and Women’s Track & Field teams bring 113 student athletes into the facility during their 4.5 hour practice sessions six days of the week. Open recreation use fills in programming gaps daily until 11:00pm. The Field House hosts 20+ special events generating approximately $54,000 annually.

Relationship between Facility Design and Staffing

The building is configured as a large open space which provides zero sightline obstruction when all divider curtains are raised. An office, which was originally located in the adjacent event entrance away from activity, was relocated to the center of the south wall inside the main space. Directly above the office is a viewing area that provides a birds eye view of the entire facility.

These adjustments have allowed staff to more efficiently set up and tear down programs and events, provide better supervision, and improve the overall member experience.

Facility Functionality

With six months of Minnesota winter, this facility allows for a wide range of recreational activities including reduced-sized field-based activities to take place year-round. Our field space is very scarce as we are in an urban environment. Several factors strongly support an argument for synthetic turf recreation fields at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. They include the urban setting, our Minnesota climate, and the interaction of our climate and the academic calendar. Several University of Minnesota sport club teams had consistently been forced to find practice or competition space off campus, and the intramural sports program consistently experienced long waiting lists of teams wishing to participate in outdoor sports, such as soccer. Seasons have been cut short due to excessive rain and early snowfalls. The provision of an indoor synthetic field has increased our programming capacity and helped our clubs to be more competitive.

Use of Technology

The Field House consists of 11 divider curtains that can be lowered to separate areas and activities within the facility. Prior to the renovation, there were four control panels located throughout the building to operate a designated group of curtains. A new Porter digital control panel was installed and allows for all curtains to be operated at the one location which has improved staff response times for program/event setups and teardowns. Additionally, more surveillance cameras and better WiFi coverage were included in the project.

Innovative, Inclusive or Sustainable Features

On the exterior of the building, 112,840 lbs of Cemesto wall panels were abated and replaced with an insulated metal panel system (going from R-7 to R-21 continuous insulation), including integrated aluminum glazing system and larger areas of curtain wall window system providing exterior and interior views. Informed by a series of daylighting studies, the ground level curtain wall system included a ceramic frit pattern at one face of the glass to mitigate glare and direct daylight impacting Field House activities and competitions. These windows provide an opportunity for integration of temporary and/or permanent banners or window film, highlighting Field House events. The previously existing wood mechanical louvers were replaced with metal louvers matching the finish and character of the insulated metal panel system. The defining design feature was the addition of a custom corrugated metal panel rainscreen over the insulated metal panels, playing with pattern densities to create a sense of acceleration along the building’s facade. Additionally, existing egress doors and openings were replaced and modified to provide additional egress, with glazed doors to provide additional views and daylighting.

The interior renovation elements saw the facility transform into a modern and versatile recreational and athletic space. The primary elements of the project include a resurfaced 6-lane, 200-meter track with lines for two basketball and two tennis courts in the interior of the track. The track area was resurfaced with Beynon BSS 1000 Hobart on top of the Mondo surface which was installed in 2006. Adjacent to the track is a vibrant 16,800 square foot Shaw Legion Pro turf field. The turf covers a polyurethane surface from the 1980’s which was in deteriorating condition.

The event entrance was widened and a ramp was added for accessibility, accentuating the entrance with lighting and double doors. An additional storage space was created from the project which houses program activity equipment and supplies. A new office space was constructed, the existing mechanical and ventilation system was enhanced and a sprinkler system was installed for code upgrades to support a capacity of 1,500 occupants.

The University’s commitment to enhance existing assets while conserving the building’s history rejuvenated the facility and further encouraged lifelong wellbeing.


Floor Plans

Project Design Team

University of Minnesota

  • James Litsheim - Capital Planning & Project Management
  • Beth Asfahl - Recreation & Wellness
  • Cody Mikl - Recreation & Wellness
  • Luke Day - Recreation & Wellness

Mortenson Construction

  • Tim Towberman - Superintendent
  • Todd Bak - General Foreman
  • Pat Block - Project Manager
  • Kayla Billmeier - Assistant Project Manager
  • Davis Eldridge - Field Engineer
  • Walker Bond - Field Engineer Intern

Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.

  • Jeffrey Mandyck - Principal Architect
  • Michelle Ney - Architect
  • Kristen Nelson - Architect
  • Tyler Whitehead - Architect

Before Renovation

After Renovation