Northwestern University

Ryan-Walter Athletic Center

Engineering a game-changer.

Comprised of a 93,000 square foot indoor fieldhouse and 334,000 square feet of diverse athletic facilities, the Ryan-Walter Athletic Center elevates the accommodations of Northwestern University’s varsity, club, and intramural sports programs to premier status. AEI provided mechanical, electrical, piping/plumbing (MEP), fire protection, instrumentation and controls, technology, and lighting design services for the project.

Ryan-Walter supports the Wildcats football team, seven other varsity teams, and the rest of Northwestern’s athletics programs with locker rooms, weight rooms, equipment and laundry rooms, two sports performance centers, a hydrotherapy suite, an athletic training hub, sports medicine and medical care, lounges, meeting rooms, an auditorium, offices for coaches and athletic department administration, academic services, a nutrition center, and dining facilities. Ryan-Walter also hosts convocations, Northwestern’s annual philanthropic Dance Marathon, and other large-scale campus events.


Evanston, IL


  • Perkins&Will - Architect of Record

LEED Status

Registered for LEED

Building Size

427,000 square feet

Project Delivery

  • Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)


  • 2021 Distinguished Building Award
  • 2021 Divine Detail Award
  • 2020 Design Excellence, Distinguished Building Award
  • Excellence in Architecture for a New Building
  • 2018 Regional Best Project, Sports/Entertainment
  • Project of the Year

The fieldhouse overlooks Lake Michigan to the north through a 45-foot high curtain wall. Perimeter glazing has trenched hydronic heating and forced air heating and cooling ducted from the floor below.

With spaces in the vast facility so varied, twelve separate air handling units are sized and configured to serve distinct specific loads. Energy conversation measures include: integrated variable-air-volume chilled beams, occupancy sensors, high turn-down airflow ratios for low-load scenarios, and in-floor radiant heating and cooling. High-volume, low-speed ceiling fans move air to allow higher cooling set points in hotter months and circulate warmer air in heating season. A 100 kW photovoltaic electric generating system is located on the eastern roof, contributing to Northwestern’s sustainability goals.

Following the arch of the roof, conditioned air for the fieldhouse space is distributed through fabric ductwork, perforated with air jet nozzles.