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Ithaca College

Athletics and Events Center

Project Description

Anchoring the eastern edge of a small campus, this 179,000 sq. ft. multipurpose facility works with the existing hillside topography and creates a visual termination for a major pedestrian walkway. The large mass is set into the ground to reduce the project scale and accentuate the tower—now an iconic element for the college. Tucking the building into the hillside minimized impact on nearby wetlands, woods and residential neighbors.

Project Stats


Ithaca, NY

Square Footage


LEED Gold Certified


Project Gallery

The Process

The program for this facility focused on three main activity places: indoor field house, natatorium and outdoor turf field. As the primary indoor facility for Ithaca College, the field house needed to accommodate varsity practice and competition, intramural and club sports, and the basic recreational needs of students. The main hall at the center of the building (also used as a pre-function event space) is the main gathering space and central control point for the building.

Of particular interest, this collegiate athletics and events center, like the student athletes it serves, draws its life from natural “breathing.” The signature design element, the tower, serves as a natural ventilator powered by the stack effect of warm air rising and expelling hot air out the top of the tower with minimal mechanical means, while drawing cooler air into the building through louvers low on the prevailing wind side of the building. Mechanical systems are not needed when the temperatures are within a specific temperature range. In climatic extremes an underground displacement heating and cooling system needs to conditiononly the lower 15 feet of the space.