The design for the new UIC Flames Soccer Stadium is the result of an ambitious series of programmatic and contextual responses that provides not only an icon for the university, but an engine of pride for the players and student spectators of their school. The design strongly considers the current soccer facility’s lack of identity; and equally, its limited space for comfortable, sheltered seating. The design relocates the spectator area and press booth to the west side of the field, providing shade from the intense afternoon sun, as well as an inspiring panoramic view of downtown Chicago. The concession center and bathrooms are placed towards the north, creating a mass to the northwest from which the main entry is carved. From there, a ramp links the press booth, the concession center, and the bathrooms to a secondary entry on the southeast side of the field, gesturing to the TBH and MRH student residences and Maxwell St. parking garage. The design also provides an entrance specifically for the players coming from the Physical Education Building.
The new UIC Soccer Stadium provides official seating for 3000 spectators. By extending this building mass around the soccer field with vegetated earth berms, the design is able to accommodate up to 5000 spectators and create a stadium which appears to seamlessly fit within its context. In order to create a connection between the existing baseball field to the east, the geometry of the grass brimmingly descends to ground level, providing a practicing area for the players and preserving the linkage of the sports areas and the green space that surrounds them.
The stadium design creates two distinct experiential relationships for the spectator between the exterior and the interior. Along Morgan Street, to the west, the building is clad in stainless steel with subtly etched UIC Flames logos, providing a contextually appropriate street presence without compromising campus identity. Conversely, the interior offers a more colorful and energetic scenario, where UIC’s colors are vibrant and celebratory for the cheering fans who watch the action amongst the backdrop of a twinkling Chicago skyline.