DePaul University plans to build new basketball facility

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Judy Lamelza

Special to Chicago Construction News staff writer

DePaul University is poised to significantly enhance its athletic infrastructure with the introduction of a new practice facility for its basketball teams.

Scheduled for the northwest corner of W. Belden Ave and N. Sheffield Ave, this development is not just another building project; it represents a strategic enhancement of DePaul’s sports facilities, directly across from the Sullivan Athletic Center.

The site currently houses four 1890s row houses and a 1925 courtyard building, all under university ownership. The decision to build here is part of a broader campus development strategy, although it has sparked conversations within the community concerning historical preservation. Responding to this, DePaul has committed to preserving three other significant buildings on campus: Cortelyou Commons, Byrne Hall, and O’Connell Hall, aiming to strike a balance between new development and historical preservation.

The facility’s design, undertaken by HNTB and Antunovich Associates, promises to be a neighborhood gem with a brick façade that respects the Lincoln Park neighborhood’s aesthetic. The design includes a pitched roof that nods to DePaul’s historical Alumni Hall, blending tradition with modern architectural trends. The incorporation of floor-to-ceiling glass will provide expansive views of the surrounding cityscape, enhancing the visual appeal and openness of the structure.

Urbanize Chicago reports that in response to community feedback, the architectural team has refined the building’s design, particularly at the base, to enhance street-level interaction. This includes enlarging windows to bring the indoor activities into public view, thus engaging passersby and integrating the facility more seamlessly with the community. Moreover, the building footprint has been reduced to allow for broader sidewalks, new landscaping, and the installation of benches, promoting a pedestrian-friendly environment.

The new athletics facility would allow student athletes to have their own locker rooms and would also include:

  • Two practice courts
  • Student athlete recovery lounge
  • Weight room
  • Offices
  • Team meeting rooms
  • New volleyball courts
  • Multi-purpose recruiting room

The estimated $60 million project hinges on approval from local authorities, including Alderman Timmy Knudsen, the Chicago Plan Commission, the Committee on Zoning, and the City Council. With these approvals, demolition of the existing buildings would commence no earlier than Summer 2025, with construction slated to complete by Fall 2026.

“We understand the concerns around historic preservation. In a perfect world, we’d have enough land and resources to keep those buildings forever. We don’t. DePaul University is in a situation where we have to utilize the assets that we have to the highest, best use that makes the long-term health of the university sustainable,” said Associate Vice President Community & Government Relations Peter Coffey.

The removal of historical buildings will require careful planning to preserve architectural elements designated for conservation. This phase will involve significant coordination to minimize disruption to the surrounding area.

The building’s structural design will need to accommodate the large glass facades and ensure stability for the high-visibility areas. The choice of materials and construction techniques will be crucial for achieving the aesthetic and functional objectives.

DePaul University’s new basketball practice facility is a strategic development that will enhance athletic training, provide state-of-the-art facilities for students, and contribute positively to the community’s socioeconomic dynamics.

As the project moves forward, it will undoubtedly serve as a critical case study in balancing modern development with community values and historical preservation.

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