The Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) was conceived as a new type of campus center, where athletic, recreational, academic, and social lives of students intersect. It has significantly strengthened the sense of community on campus, as varsity teams, intramurals, and individuals all use the center, often at the same time. All aspects of project planning—from site selection and initial concept, to programming interior space configuration and material selection—were intended to foster student interaction and build community.
The program includes a 50-meter swimming pool, 1,500-seat arena, tennis courts, squash courts, theatre and film library, multipurpose rooms, study lounges, weight room, a field-house/running track, training rooms, and various offices. With such an ambitious collection of spaces, the challenge was to find an appropriate vocabulary and scale for a new 263,000-square-foot athletic center.
The site is located below the primary ridge of the historic campus in a flat and grassy flood plain. This evocative landscape became the primary motivation for the building’s massing, form and scale. The simple, shed-like volume, expressed in glass and metal, responds to the rural land of the riverbed below.
The building’s elevations engage the monumental roof form with a streamlined and structural expression. The three main facades work together to respond to the surrounding athletic fields and neighboring houses. The southern facade wall is composed of internally baffled insulating low-E glass, while a solid wall at the eastern elevation is composed of corrugated metal panels. Portions of the western facade elevation are composed of perforated corrugated stainless steel to complete the transition between solid and void.
On the interior, layers of transparent and opaque materials define precincts of space, which progress from the main stair and create open vistas across the interior core. The roof profile remains unbroken throughout the length of the building and the noise attenuation is greatly improved by locating mechanical systems and their distribution underground. Structural supports are spaced so that the roof itself seems to float. The roof is a single, repetitive form that creates structural efficiency and visual coherence.