Transforming Northwestern's Athletics Experience


Northwestern Athletics attracts student competitors from across the nation and it is our commitment to match their Facilities experience with the excellence seen in all our University programs. In partnership with Northwestern Athletics and Recreation leaders, we set out to pursue a new vision for their education and athletic needs. Out of that collaboration came the plans for a once in a lifetime Facilities and Athletics effort, the Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center. The four-year project accomplished a tremendous milestone with its grand opening in summer 2018.  

The $260 million project with 420,000 square feet of space, athletic equipment, and services, is a new home on campus for student-athletes who crave optimal efficiency. Traveling between classes to change for practice or commuting several blocks from Patten gym to the outdoor fields for practices has become more and more impractical. Building this new facility on campus was a way to keep student-athletes more integrated into campus life and give them a resource center for their needs in between classes.

The project required considerable innovation and ingenuity to accommodate the needs of all 19 varsity athletic teams. The locker rooms, team lounges, nutrition station, academic services and sports medicine spaces were strategically placed to maximize student-athlete’s time. The Facilities design team focused on efficiency to satisfy the needs of multiple sports programs all in one building.

“This truly is a transformation project for our department and the University. There are many stakeholders who will utilize the facility, and we would not have accomplished this project without tremendous collaboration and partnership with Facilities,” stated Brian Baptiste, Associate Director of Athletics Administration.

According to Kory Burton, the construction project manager, "The Fieldhouse required special attention as we were designing, permitting, and building the project on a highly restricted lakefront site." Approximately 33 permits were required by multiple agencies to start the project. The thoroughly vetted plan exhausted every possible design program element and adjacency which perfected the layout.

The Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center will bring to campus a new multi-purpose facility that will also be shared with recreation programs as well as host special campus events. It will be an on-campus accessible, time-efficient home base that will serve Northwestern well into the future.