Providence College: Ruane Friar Development Center

Providence College: Ruane Friar Development Center

Providence, RI, USA

A campus destination energizes a college community with modern athletic facilities.

Providence College’s athletics program exudes its one-for-all spirit through Head Coach Ed Cooley’s mantra: “Us. We. Together. Family. Friars.” That ethos was the driving force behind the design for the sweeping Ruane Friar Development Center (RFDC), which houses practice, locker room, and office facilities for the college’s basketball programs as well as training and recovery facilities for all its Division I student athletes.

Project Facts

  • Client:

  • Providence College
  • Size:

  • 58,000 sq. ft.
  • Services:

  • Architecture, Branded Environments, Experiential Design
  • Markets:

  • Sport + Exhibition, Higher Education
  • Region:

  • United States
  • Studios:

  • New York

    Awards

  • 2018 Merit Award, Rhode Island AIA
  • 2018 Facility of Merit, Athletic Business
  • Providence College: Ruane Friar Development Center 2
    The glass-enclosed main entrance provides a portal into the college's Athletics Hall of Fame.

    The challenge was to design an athletic training facility that expresses the unique culture at Providence, the smallest school in the Big East conference. The goal was to reinforce a “high performance” ethic in both athletics and education while providing a family-centered environment based upon the coaching staff’s hands-on style.

    The college’s motto is Veritas, the Latin for truth. The Perkins Eastman team referenced that motto in the design development, always seeking truthfulness and honesty in its interpretation of program materials. Daylight and openness are key factors. A two-story glass façade at the main entrance to the building lets in ample daylight, for example, and it represents transparency to the program while visually connecting it to the rest of the campus.

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    The second-floor Innovation Lab, open to all the  Division I student athletes, contains areas for rest and recovery after training. It includes a mindfulness room with nap pods, zero-gravity recliners for massage and heat treatment, sensory-deprivation float rooms, and cryotherapy machines.

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    The men’s basketball coaches’ offices are located downstairs on the main level, just outside the players’ locker room and practice courts. The idea was to place the coaches in the center of their community, facilitating daily communication with their players. Coach Cooley, who refers to himself as a teacher rather than a coach, requested this layout so he can maintain bonds with his players by “seeing the eyes” of each one as they pass his glass-walled space on the way to practice.

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    Providence College: Ruane Friar Development Center 7

    Players must pass the glass-fronted coaching offices on the left as they head to the circular locker room,
    foreground, or the practice courts, right.

     

    The men’s basketball locker room lies at the heart of the practice and coaching facilities on the RFDC’s main level.

    The men’s basketball players must also pass these offices on the way to their players’ lounge, which is situated prominently at the glass-enclosed corner on the center’s main level. Directly above, all the college’s athletes have access to the airy dining area; an attached terrace, inspired by the covered viewing areas of cricket pavilions that are common across the United Kingdom, extends the space outside. These prime locations overlook the track and playing field and face the rest of the college beyond it, keeping student-athletes anchored within the overall college context—a notion that reinforces the institution’s commitment to teamwork, collaboration, and inclusion.

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    The school’s commitment to high performance is most amplified in RFDC’s soaring practice courts, whose upward-sweeping roof appears weightless atop a giant ribbon of glass. The idea behind the design, like the gifted basketball players who train there, was to emulate flight.

     

    Providence College: Ruane Friar Development Center 13 ESPN Features Perkins Eastman-Designed Sports Facilities

    Providence College: Ruane Friar Development Center 1

    The theatricality continues with the recruitment area—a “closing room” with a balcony that extends over the courts where prospective players for all the college’s athletic programs, their parents, and other VIPs can gather and watch the action.

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    Outside, the building’s exterior nods to its New England locale, where gray-patina ipe wood rain-screens offer a modern reference to the region’s shingle-style vernacular. Metal-plate and dark-manganese ironspot brick complement the wood siding, while the broad expanses of glazed curtainwalls are optimized so that on the heat-intensive south side, external window mullions support sun-shading louvers.

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    The entry foyer utilizes the same high-performance glazing system to create large, uninterrupted views in and out of the Hall of Fame, which showcases the college’s distinguished athletic legacy. Within the building, the school colors of silver, black, grey, and white are expressed with natural wood (inspired by the blonde wood floors that make up basketball courts), low-iron glass, and stainless-steel hardware. This material palette extends consistently across all spaces in the building—the Hall of Fame entry lobby, the athletic and training facilities, and the office and conference spaces. Organizationally, the triple-height Hall of Fame serves as the building’s main entrance and public display space.

    The Hall of Fame is visible from each of the center’s three levels.

    A second phase of this project will connect the RFDC with the adjacent Alumni Hall and Slavin Student Center, converting three buildings of different architectural styles and vintages into one complex and establishing a new heart of the overall campus. An innovative, translucent-foil pillow roof on custom-arched structures will unify the buildings, both visually and architecturally, and provide a protected, naturally lit interior concourse between them, which will emerge as an expressive entry canopy to the RFDC.

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    Both phases were conceived as a cohesive whole to help Providence College achieve myriad goals: embracing students and athletes firmly within the campus; modernizing its athletic support services; honoring its basketball program; and reinforcing Ed Cooley’s distinctive coaching philosophy that has come to permeate Friartown.

    Produced by Outside the Frame for Perkins Eastman