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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2008

Support growing for football addition

The new Anderson Family Football Complex at Kivisto Field is shown between two new football practice fields and Memorial Stadium.

The new Anderson Family Football Complex at Kivisto Field is shown between two new football practice fields and Memorial Stadium.

August 16, 2008

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Virtual tour of the Anderson Family Football Complex

Take a virtual tour through the new Anderson Family Football Complex. Enlarge video

When word spread of plans to add a new football facility adjacent to Memorial Stadium, public opinion was quick to condemn the move.

Detractors said it would mar the historical qualities of Campanile Hill; it would kill the view of the hill and into the stadium; the feel of the neighborhood would change.

But with construction of the Anderson Family Football Complex nearly complete, even some of the project's harshest critics are coming around.

Dennis Domer, associate dean emeritus of Kansas University's architecture department and an outspoken opponent of the construction of the Oread Hotel, said the complex is better than he expected.

"Just from driving by and looking at it, you know, it's not a great building, but it has some attractive qualities there that I would have to look at more carefully," he said.

It's that type of response that university officials were hoping for as the new home to KU football nears completion.

"I think that people will be pleasantly surprised that the building does nothing to diminish the view of the stadium from the hill," said Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director, of the 80,000-square-foot, $31 million complex.

University architect Warren Corman, an enthusiastic supporter of the project designed by Kansas City architectural firm HNTB Architecture, said it was important to retain some architectural qualities of other campus buildings, as well as the traditional look of the hill.

"(Chancellor) Bob (Hemenway) told me, 'We don't want to ruin the traditional image of Campanile Hill. If you ruin it, I'll bury you on that hill,'" Corman joked.

Stone used in the construction is meant to match that of Strong, Bailey and Dyche halls.

In short, the complex looks nothing like Memorial Stadium's facade.

"That was on purpose. We didn't want to match that," Corman said.

When football season commences Aug. 30, fans will notice the great piles of dirt that surrounded the stadium for much of last season are gone, replaced by two football fields of kelly green turf on the southeast side of the stadium, and the squat Anderson Family Football Complex on the southwest side. Two gates also lead onto the stadium track, making for easy access for graduates walking down the hill.

The project added a quarter of a million dollars of trees and sod, including more than 10,000 square yards of tall turf fescue to the hill. It also added about 400 parking spots on the west side of the stadium.

"It's helped the hill, made it a lot nicer and made it a lot better for commencement, for football, for everything," Corman said.

Ellen Reymond, 31, a graduate student of art history, said she thought the construction was an eyesore, but the final product has turned out well.

"The field is green; it's beautiful," she said. "It seems to blend in.

"I don't feel like (the complex) detracts from the natural beauty of the hill. It seems to blend, I wouldn't say seamlessly, in an understated way," she said.

Domer, however, worries that the addition of the football complex signifies a potential land grab by the university.

"I see it as relatively benign, but it probably would have been much better if it were sided where the new football practice fields are," he said. "It's not the kind of architectural blemish that the new Oread Hotel will be, and in and of itself has not destroyed historic buildings. It's just the future that it portends."

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