Indoor Practice Facility at the “Sunken Garden”?

Bruce Wood at BGA wrote a week ago Saturday about the inflatible stadium bubbles that some schools use for offseason sports practice:

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for news out of Dartmouth and it won’t be about a bubble. Those who attended the Friends of Football semiannual meeting in June heard the details but nothing has been officially released yet.

A guess: The news will be about the Indoor Practice Facility slated for the practice field beyond Thompson and the Boss Tennis Center. Almost four years ago the Alumni Magazine wrote that “Sheehy’s hopes for the future include the building of an indoor practice facility[.]”1

The designers of the future facility are Sasaki Associates, the firm that has been working on the “residential colleges” plan.


  1. Brad Parks, “It’s a Whole New Ballgame,” Dartmouth Alumni Magazine (Nov.-Dec. 2011).

Incubator progress; other items

  • A nice Burakian aerial from above the Chase Field athletic complex in the foreground shows the potential of Piazza Nervi.
  • A little more on the NCAC: it was not noted before in reference to the Alex Atwood rendering that the building’s extensive underground space was to have had at least two skylights in aboveground lanterns, almost like Pei’s Pyramid at the Louvre.
  • More on Hillflint, the clothing company mentioned here in October, from Dartmouth Now. Turns out it was started by John Shi ’12.
  • The school’s Flickr photostream has a photo of the interior of Rauner showing some of the presidential portraits. I don’t recognize the background of President Kim’s portrait — a room in Baker, perhaps?
  • Outgoing Board Chair Steve Mandel did not mention any potential construction when he wrote:

    [T]he new living arrangements will embrace the concept of the “house system.” Students will live together not only in their freshman year but also in upper-class residence clusters for their three remaining years. Investments in academic programming and affiliated faculty are planned to foster community in these residential clusters… These changes should reintroduce a dorm-based sense of identity for undergraduates.1

  • The Big Green Alert Blog dissects the seating figures for the new West Stands with reference to an article on the project in The D. It looks like the replacement stands will cost 2,312 seats. For reference, the current capacity of all of the stands at Memorial Field in total is about 13,000.
  • The D also writes on a planned expansion of the enrollment, faculty, and curriculum of Thayer School. No word yet on new buildings, but they seem inevitable, especially on the parking lot south of the McLean ESC.
  • An Incubator progress photo has been posted by Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network. Four Currier does seem a great place for it — downtown, in a commercial building, and yet on college property right next to campus. NHBR article notes the hiring of director Jamie Coughlin from the abi Innovation Hub in Manchester. An article in BusinessNH Magazine paraphrases Coughlin:

    He says the new 3,000-square-foot space is designed like the abi with open collaboration in mind, to host residencies for entrepreneurs, and help connect students with executives, faculty, and investors.

  • Did you know that the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network has a residential program?
  • DHMC News announces the receipt of a gift to fund the construction of a substantial hospice care center. The hospital is still looking for a site.
  • And DHMC has received the Legacy Project Award from the American College of Healthcare Architects. The press release states:

    Dartmouth-Hitchcock represents a paradigm shift in hospital design, incorporating and foretelling some of the most significant healthcare delivery and design issues of the past 25 years. This includes: […] A mall as the organizing concept and circulation backbone.

    Architects SBRA have a nice bibliography (pdf) of articles about the hospital.


  1. Letter from Chairmain of the Board of Trustees Steve Mandel (21 March 2014).

A new indoor practice facility likely

That pdf from the Massachusetts Building Congress last month states that the construction of an Indoor Practice Facility is expected. Construction projects will total $900 million over the next five years, according to the materials.

Based on the Big Green Alert Blog report that “Dartmouth is pushing for a ‘hard-sided’ indoor practice facility” as opposed to an inflatable structure, this might be a proper fieldhouse. Chase Fields seems a likely site:

[Update 11.17.2012: Broken link to BGA fixed.]

Piazza Nervi

I. Background

The site where Leverone Field House and Thompson Arena face each other across South Park Street, with a couple of houses in between, is an interesting one (Google Maps aerial, aerial, street view entering from the south). It is getting some attention these days.

Leverone forecourt

Leverone Field House forecourt in June 2005

First, the transit report proposes a bus shelter here (pdf).

Second, Athletic Director Harry Sheehy commented in an interview in the Alumni Magazine that the school needs another field house. Chase Fields seems a likely site, and the building could even take over a part of the Thompson parking lot facing South Park Street.

Third, the owner of the private house just below the entrance to the parking lot, at 31 1/2 South Park Street, has demolished the building and is replacing it with a three-story building containing a dental office with apartments above (Planning Board minutes Sept. 13 (pdf); see also Planning Board minutes Sept. 6 (pdf)).

All of this activity gets one thinking about the two old houses in front of Thompson Arena at 25 and 27 South Park Street, both designed by Jens F. Larson.

Thompson Arena forecourt in June 2005

Thompson Arena forecourt in June 2005 showing 25 and 27 South Park

On the one hand, the presence of the two houses preserves the historic appearance of the east side of the street and maintains the rhythm of solids and voids that stretches all the way up to Wheelock Street. Number 29, the Fire & Skoal house, is also a Larson product.

The view that the houses frame is interesting and surprising — it looks like there is some kind of hangar back there, and a walk along the beach-flat ground that reveals the ribs and upturned hulk of Thompson behind the brown shingled house can create a nautical impression. Removing the houses to create a plaza would be a bit arbitrary: very few people actually walk from the front door of Leverone to the front door of Thompson.

site plan

Site plan

On the other hand, the two Nervi buildings were meant to face each other, and the two houses have always been meant to come out. Master plans have long proposed that the houses be removed and a plaza be constructed to link the two concrete arenas. The 2007 Landscape Master Plan included such a proposal (pdf). The 2000 student life master plan (pdf) notes that the entry into Thompson Arena is obscured by existing houses along Park Street:

There are, however, opportunities to reinforce the entry to Thompson Arena by moving or demolishing the College-owned houses on Park Street in front of the current entry. Doing so would relate the Arena to its cousin, Leverone Field House, both designed by Pier Luigi Nervi, and complete an intention planned but never realized.

II. Proposal

The two Larson houses at 25 and 27 could be moved across the street, above Cobra, and a plaza could be built in their place.

proposed site plan


The plaza would be difficult to make uniform in footprint. The two Nervi buildings do not face each other directly. Each stands a different distance from the street and rises to a different height.

Piazza Nervi would become the student entrance to the whole Chase Fields complex. Pedestrians walking down Park Street would swing diagonally across the Thompson forecourt and then head eastward. The present route into the parking lot is relatively convoluted and disappointing.

As a bonus, the piazza could tie into a new path cut westward through the Crosby-Park block. The need for this path to Lebanon Street, the only cross-block route between Wheelock and Summer Streets, has been obvious for years, and the Ped/Bike Master Plan released in October (pdf) recommends it. A long brick wall built to shield the neighbors’ houses could serve as a venue for a horizontal climbing race put on by the DOC: speed-bouldering.

III. Conclusion

The new piazza would be the first work of architecture of any kind in Hanover — whether a plaque, monument, room, or building — dedicated to an architect.

It would make a nice gateway for drivers entering the campus from the southeast. That might be its most important function.

The danger is that Piazza Nervi would be a windswept Modernist wasteland: there is a fine line between minimalism and barrenness. But something good is possible.

Thompson detail

Thompson Arena side entrance in June 2005

Leverone front facade

Leverone Field House front facade in June 2005


[Update 11.17.2012: Broken link to oblique image fixed.]

[Update 06.10.2012: Link to and quote from 2000 master plan added. Thanks to Big Green Alert: The Blog for the link here and ideas.]

Unbuilt Dartmouth, an exhibit and an article

A graphical article based on research by Barbara Krieger in the July/August Alumni Magazine nicely covers a larger exhibit in the History Room in Baker. It is good to see the site for the amphitheater named as Murdough rather than the Bema, which is the site that that drawing is usually said to describe.

One or two quibbles: the 1931 courtyard Inn on page 53 was meant not not the Robinson Hall area but for the Spaulding Auditorium site, as is shown on the exhibit’s Dartmouth House Plot Plan. The gateway shown in the Larson drawing would have faced east, and Lebanon Street is depicted on the left of the drawing. (The main block of the current Inn was completed in 1967 rather than 1887.)

The focus on the Dartmouth Hall cupola is a bit of a wild goose chase. The plans depicted are by William Gamble and show a masonry building that was never built. Dartmouth Hall was built from some other plans, long since lost, that almost certainly showed a cupola. Those plans might or might not have been by Gamble and probably were not by Peter Harrison. (The cupola that Tucker admired was probably a somewhat different midcentury replacement for the original.)

Here is an image that did not make it into the article, a pre-Leverone proposal for a field house by Eggers & Higgins:

Eggers & Higgins Field House proposal

Wow. That is a view to the southeast from above the gym. South Park Street runs behind the field house, and the field in the upper right corner is the site of the later Leverone Field House.

The article quotes Eisenhower on “what a college ought to look like.” Conan O’Brien recently paraphrased this commentary while adding something of his own:

It’s absolutely beautiful here, though. It is the quintessential college cam-… American college campus. It does look like a movie set.

(Video, at 1:27.)