Virtue Field House for Middlebury College
The Virtue Field House for Middlebury College, Vermont, is one of the most unique training and competition venues in American college athletics. Totalling 120,000 square foot, the flexible facility incorporates an indoor practice space, competition track, expanded recreation space and improved spectator accommodations.
Since its completion in July 2015, the facility has proved hugely successful. The Virtue Field House received industry recognition recently when it was shortlisted for an international WAN Award in the ‘Sport in Architecture’ category. Global design firm, Sasaki, was responsible for creating the venue which includes a 200 metre track and over 20,000 square feet of athletic turf. The multi-use complex accommodates 500 spectators for sporting events and up to 5,000 people for large campus functions in an assembly configuration.
Set slightly apart from the rest of the campus, the front of the new field house uses significant glazing to give a clear view of activities taking place inside. The building is also a beacon at night and easily blends with the surrounding facilities and outdoor fields. Designers also gave significant consideration to the energy efficiency of the new building. This includes eight 24-foot-wide ceiling fans circulating air thereby eliminating the need for air conditioning, efficient LED lighting, super-insulated walls and ceilings, and an abundance of natural light. This effort was recognised when the Virtue Field House achieved LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.
The versatility of the space also means all athletic teams can practice indoors during inclement weather on a state-of-the-art performance surface. A variety of events can be accommodated for including track meets, intramural and recreational uses, and special campus and community functions. It is not only a field house for the College but also the local community in the town of Middlebury.
Prior to work beginning, a rigorous master planning and programming effort determined the size and location of the facility, carefully considering the building’s relationship to an existing athletic centre and outdoor fields. The previous indoor facility on the campus was an athletics-only venue that housed an indoor competition track and floor space for field events.
By increasing the width of the fieldhouse and placing the straight sprint lanes outside the track oval, the interior of the track became available for myriad uses. In a break from what would be considered the traditional choice, the space within the track’s centre has been covered with synthetic field turf as opposed to a hard top basketball or tennis court. During the winter this provides athletes with the opportunity to train on grass in comfortable temperatures.