Miami University in Oxford, Ohio is the tenth oldest public university in the United States, and was once dubbed “the most beautiful campus that ever there was” by poet Robert Frost. A quaint, yet isolated school nestled comfortably in southwestern Ohio, the university’s Georgian Revival architecture immediately resonates with students and visitors as they set foot on the campus for the first time.
However, while many prospective students immediately fall in love with the beauty of Miami’s campus, Miami’s baseball coaches needed more of an edge to succeed in today’s competitive recruiting landscape. There was no space to host recruits, watch game film or even routinely gather to bond as a team. The small locker rooms were located in the basement of an antiquated building adjacent to the field. The team yearned for a space that was uniquely theirs and would serve as an effective recruiting tool to attract the best talent.
To address these needs, the Miami University athletic department turned to SHP. Their charge: design a leading-edge space that meshes perfectly with the campus’s distinctive architectural style. The result is the Hayden Baseball Support Facility, a state-of-the-art, 10,000 square foot building opening in 2015 that reflects the positive values and winning tradition that recruits are seeking.
Hitting a Home Run
“Miami’s focus was on a facility that could serve as both a functional locker room and a recruiting tool,” said John Noble, project architect for SHP who led the design for the new building.
“We met with coaches, players, the athletic department and the physical facilities group to ensure our design delivered a stand out support facility for the entire team, and wasn’t just a place to change clothes after a game,” Noble said. “This is how we work and it was a critical first step in delivering on our client’s expectations.”
Keeping an Eye on Curveballs
As it turns out, identifying the goals was the easy part of SHP’s response. Just as a hitter has to adjust to curveballs, sliders and change-ups, this project had three major challenges as well, not uncommon for the construction industry: speed, quality and cost.
“With a budget of $3 million, we had to focus on optimizing the design of every square inch to give Miami the best project possible,” Noble said.
Another complicating factor was that the existing hillside along the third base line where the Hayden Baseball Support Facility would be built was filled with utilities – including an 80-foot-tall light pole that had to be moved.
“The lights were actually used to illuminate the field, so it was a huge consideration in the design,” Noble said. “We wound up moving it about 12 feet, closer to the field and to the north, out of the way of the new building.”
While Noble makes the process of “just moving the pole,” sound easy, it was actually quite complex. The installation process included drilling a thirty-foot-deep hole, lining it with a steel pipe that stuck out of the ground by about 12 feet, filling the pipe with concrete and then letting it sit until the foundations were poured allowing for back-fill around it, then reinstalling the pole. All of this was done in the offseason so that the lights were ready for the first game of the 2015 season.
Speaking of the 2015 season, maintaining the team’s schedule was paramount in developing the construction plan. SHP worked closely with the construction managers to ensure that the design enabled a phasing plan that minimized intrusion on the 2015 baseball activities and was fully complete in time to make 2016 a banner year for the team and for Miami University.
If You Build It, They Will Come
With its completion in late 2015, the state-of-the-art Hayden Baseball Support Facility at Miami University became a facility that both current student-athletes and prospective enjoy.
The upper level of the Hayden facility includes a team lounge, complete with gaming and audio/visual equipment, offices for the coaches, an academic study/film room and an administrative area. The head coach’s corner office allows him to oversee his players on the field, with the bonus of offering recruits a chance to envision themselves playing inside the stadium while meeting with him.
“The entire design is special to us, but the upstairs is really the driving force behind the Hayden facility,” Noble said. “It features everything the old space was missing – team meeting rooms, coaches offices with an incredible view, and an area to welcome recruits that will serve as a fantastic first impression for the team.”
The lower level offers a better locker room for the players. There are also locker rooms for coaches, umpires, the team’s laundry and equipment facilities, and a training room large enough to serve athletes from other teams at the university. Players can access the bullpen and the adjacent batting cage through tunnels from the lower level.
Going For the Win
Scattered throughout the facility are two key messages that sum up the Miami University baseball program. The first, “Love and Honor,” – which is also the university’s credo – reinforces the sense of history and values of both Miami and the baseball program. This message is brought to life through graphics in the reception area, along a history/honor wall adjacent to the waiting area and in the locker room.
The second key message is “Oxford to Omaha,” a nod to the journey to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Intended to inspire the players, this message is about winning championships and is most notably reflected in the staircase between the two levels, where each step represents an obstacle (rivalries, tournament games, etc.) that the team must overcome to win a championship.
Winning a college sports championship is difficult, but it’s even harder when you aren’t starting on a level playing field. With the new Hayden Baseball Support Facility, Miami University has the physical resources to compete with the best of the best, both on and off the field.