The Challenge

In 2017, the sixty five-year-old Welsh-Ryan Arena, home to the Northwestern Wildcats’ basketball, volleyball, and wrestling programs, was due for a significant renovation. Under the architectural direction of HOK Architects, the building was peeled back to its steel framework and then rebuilt to achieve a modern and open venue while retaining its original character. Northwestern recognized the importance of weaving the unique story of their athletics program throughout the space in order to enhance the fan experience and attract new recruits, and found their solution through Jack Porter.

The Strategy

In collaboration with HOK’s design team, Jack Porter worked to create a comprehensive and cohesive brand experience that extended through the main lobby, concourses, operational corridors, locker rooms and training rooms. Modern, sleek, powerful, and hi-impact were all on Northwestern’s wish list for the new Walsh-Ryan Arena experience. This vision was realized through a design system that matched a sleek materials palette with graphics and textures derived from the signature “N” logo and the classic “Northwestern” stripe. 

The Impact

Throughout the space, visitors are greeted with a sense of the past, present and future of the program- supporters of Northwestern are recognized through a contemporary donor recognition system constructed of aluminum and back-painted glass, and along the concourse, a series of graphic insets highlighting the achievements of NU’s most notable student athletes. The volleyball and basketball teams all received new locker room suites, and the spaces are united by consistent design elements including a feature wall created from the old arena floor.