The Ripon College Athletics & Wellness Center will be the first collaboration between Kahler Slater and Ripon College. The college has identified its existing Athletics & Recreation building, the J.M. Storzer Center, as the main building priority and has chosen to partner with Kahler Slater after an extensive interview process. The existing facility is vastly undersized due to its heavy use by both student athletes, non-athletes, faculty, staff and the community of Ripon. Built in 1967, it is a building that shows it’s age in condition, basic planning, and aesthetic qualities. The new Athletics & Wellness Center, a major renovation and expansion project, will provide an open, inviting, and active space, while offering wellness opportunities for everyone.
In contrast to the existing building, the expanded facility will be visually open both internally and externally. Ample glass on the exterior will provide natural light in a majority of the spaces and allow views of the natural context. The interior planning will focus on creating spaces to foster community and collaboration for all students, staff, and fans who enter. A new 60,000 field house with a 200 meter track and four basketball courts will anchor the design. The expanded wellness center, over twice the size of the existing, and a large two story lounge adjacent to the main entry will transform the Ripon College Athletics & Wellness facility into a major destination on campus.
The design concept for the Athletics & Wellness Center draws its inspiration from the natural context of the site. The building is positioned between the campus and the Ceresco Prairie Conservancy, which is a highly valued area by both the college and the community of Ripon. Initial planning requirements suggested that views to the prairie were secondary to views back to campus, so instead of focusing the building towards the prairie, Kahler Slater suggested bringing the prairie to the building. The planting of a large area of low maintenance prairie grasses along the North and East facades of the building effectively brings the qualities of the prairie to all who use the facility. A combination of gently curving stone walls and vast amounts of transparent glass provide a visual blending between the interior and exterior, and allow extensive views towards the heart of campus over a foreground of the new prairie grasses.