Memorial Field House, once the lovely Collegiate Gothic (ca. 1933) centerpiece (along with neighboring University Hall) of the University of Toledo campus, took its share of abuse after a new athletic arena made it redundant, in 1976. The ultimate insult occurred when the ROTC used it as a paintball venue.
All that changed in 2006, when the university, facing a burst in student enrollment, an expansion of program offerings, and concern about future space needs, commissioned a major overhaul that, three years later, recast the 134,200-sf gymnasium into a LEED Gold learning environment housing classrooms, teaching labs, faculty offices, and space for future growth.
The extensive Building Team, led by Cincinnati’s BHDP Architecture, literally constructed a building within a building, expanding the single-floor high-bay arena into three floors within the existing building envelope. The tri-level structure, with its exposed steel truss supports, features a dramatic cruciform skylight above a “Town Hall” atrium that has become one of the most popular meeting and study spaces on campus.
Planning for the project ensured that the university would have sufficient classroom space to meet its enrollment projections through 2020. Fifty-four classrooms, varying in size for classes of 20, 30, or 40, were built. A practice gym was converted into a 250-seat, three-screen auditorium; another was repurposed for language laboratories. The “Collegiate Loft” on the new third floor houses the UT Center for Teaching and Learning. The latest A/V equipment—flat panel monitors, electronic whiteboards, audience response systems—enables multiple teaching styles.
Memorial Field House was the university’s first LEED Gold building. Two noteworthy innovations: 1) the Building Team kept a chilled water plant housed in the building’s central courtyard fully operation, along with a 15kV electrical substation and main campus communications fiber; and 2) the team field erected new air-handling units in two old basketball gyms and integrated engineered smoke control with the new skylight system.
“They definitely did their homework,” said jurist Tom Brooks, VP of Reconstruction at Chicago’s Berglund Construction. “They maintained the façade, which is important to me, and did it all on a budget so low it almost looks like a typo.” For the record, construction costs were $21.5 million, or $160/sf. BD+C
Owner: The University of Toledo
Submitting firm: BHDP Architecture (architect, interior designer)
Civil/structural engineer: Poggemeyer Design Group
MEP engineer: Heapy Engineering
Program analyst: Comprehensive Facilities Planning, Inc.
General contractor: A. Z. Shimina, Inc.
A/V, IT, acoustics consultant: The Sextant Group
Steel construction: Mosser Construction
Cost consultant: ProjDel Corp.
Area: 134,200 gsf
Construction cost: $21.5 million
Construction time: January 2006 to January 2009