Architecture and planning firm Gould Evans, together with the University of Kansas, has announced the completion of the DeBruce Center, located on the University’s campus in Lawrence, Kansas. The 32,000-square-foot building is a multi-dimensional experience of the university’s rich basketball history, and a permanent home for the historical two-page document on which, in 1891, James Naismith outlined “The Original 13 Rules of Basket Ball.”
The DeBruce Center is a transformational addition to Allen Fieldhouse, which is considered one of college basketball’s most historically-significant and prestigious buildings.
Gould Evans’ design of the DeBruce Center responds to the University’s need for an environment that welcomes visitors and the KU community pre-game, post-game, and throughout the year. The design subtly integrates two distinct programs – an interpretive center for The Rules and a student commons – allowing the story of basketball to unfold at multiple scales and to multiple audiences.
A linear pathway winds through the soaring interior of the DeBruce Center, along which the story of The Rules and the subsequent development of the game are strategically arranged, taking visitors on a historical journey that culminates in Allen Fieldhouse. The pathway connects many features inside the new building including:
One of the most compelling features of the new building is how the more than 45,000 words of today’s modern rules of basketball, engraved in an aluminum scrim which covers the connector bridge, “wrap” around the display case for the original 451-word historical document. This offers visitors the unique and intimate spatial experience of being enveloped by thousands of words, and a way to physically experience basketball’s evolution over 125 years. In addition to the aluminum scrim, a refined material palette of structural glass and honed black concrete highlight the design simplicity of the DeBruce Center, which serves to reflect the simple, yet powerful origin of The Rules.
“One of our design challenges for this project was finding a way to make the DeBruce Center stand out, while acting as a background to the historic Allen Fieldhouse to which it connects and The Rules document contained within,” explained Kelly Dreyer, Project Designer with Gould Evans. “The simple form, transparent façade and reduced material palette allow the building to integrate with the campus during the day, its surfaces reflecting the patterns of trees and adjacent campus buildings. At night the building glows, revealing the activity within and inspiring curiosity from passersby.”
KU alumnus David Booth of Austin, Texas, purchased the Rules in December 2010, and subsequently donated them to KU, creating the catalyst for a new building to properly house them.