The 300,000-square-foot complex, which celebrates its grand opening on the Dallas Cowboys-themed campus known as The Star, is an educational opportunity for visitors as much as it is a healthcare destination for recreational and professional athletes. Upon entering through the front doors, patients and visitors observe the science of athleticism and sports medicine and intuit the relationship between physical activity and well-being. Patients then have the opportunity to use the same facilities for their own healthcare needs. As a result, everyone comes away inspired by the combined brand power of the Dallas Cowboys and Baylor Scott & White Health, and motivated to improve their own health and fitness.
“The complex is designed to showcase the link between active lifestyles and physical health so that every visitor leaves feeling more informed and inspired,” says Ron Stelmarski, principal at architecture firm Perkins+Will and lead designer of the complex. “Wellness education and inspiration, coupled with a holistic approach to diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, promote the health and well-being of a community. The Sports Therapy & Research facility is a shining example of a new kind of architecture that supports the improvement of population health through physical fitness.”
Convergence: Blending Design Typologies
At the heart of this “new kind of architecture,” Stelmarski explains, is a convergence of healthcare, science and technology, sports and recreation, workplace, branded environment, urban planning and, to a certain extent, civic design (parts of the complex can be transformed into public gathering places for community events and performances). This melding of design typologies allows Baylor Scott & White Health to offer patients an innovative ‘one-stop-shop’ approach to sports medicine and rehabilitation services, including sports nutrition, sports psychology, orthopedics, physical therapy, occupational therapy, neuropsychology, urgent care, surgery, a brain injury program, cardiology, outpatient imaging, and a pharmacy.
In alignment with the complex’s focus, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, a leader in hydration and nutrition science, is housed on the complex’s second floor. Outside, a network of publicly accessible walk, run, and bike trails keeps the facility well-connected to the community and integrated with the surrounding Star campus.
“We’re seeing a fascinating trend emerge at the intersection of sports performance and healthcare design—one that we think could start a sea change in population health nationwide,” says Don Dethlefs, principal and chair of Perkins+Will’s sports, recreation, and entertainment practice. “In each case, our clients have shared one vision: help entire communities achieve holistic health by improving individuals’ physical fitness.”
Other Perkins+Will projects illustrating this trend include the PPL Center (opened in September 2014); THE UCLA Health Training Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers (opened in August 2017); the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross Athletic Center (opened in October 2017); the Snyder Center at Phillips Andover Academy (opened in January 2018); the Viking Pavilion at the Peter W. Stott Center at Portland State University (opened in April 2018); and Northwestern University’s Ryan Walter Athletics Center (set to open in August 2018).
Designing a Branded Experience
The Sports Therapy & Research complex includes basketball courts, a fitness and strength training room, and an indoor/outdoor playing field. Powered by Fusionetics, a digital platform that optimizes athletic performance, decrease the risk of injuries, and speeds recovery, these facilities allow athletes to train and rehabilitate in advanced ways. And with the exception of the locker rooms, pool, and plunge room, these highly visible, prominently placed athletic facilities—surrounded by transparent glass walls and casual seating areas for onlookers—allow the whole process of rehabilitation to be observed.
“The transparency helps tell the complex’s story. It showcases the human body in motion, creating a ‘living brand’ experience that celebrates athleticism and physical fitness,” Stelmarski says. “The openness and visual interconnectivity of the spaces lend a soft, human quality to the otherwise hard, data-driven science of sports medicine.”
At the same time, the complex is also designed to invoke a sense of strength, durability, and precision—attributes of the athletes who seek treatment there and the care teams who provide care. This is accomplished through a crisp, clean material palette composed primarily of concrete, modern glass, and metal, and by complementary soothing color tones and abundant natural light. Unobstructed views and easy access to the outdoors create a feeling of revitalization and rejuvenation. A bevy of two-dimensional geometric shapes made of painted metal suspend from the ceiling of the four-story lobby like confetti, symbolizing fluidity of movement and the legerity of the physically fit body; their organization appears arbitrary at first, but upon closer examination, the disparate shapes visually coalesce to form the Baylor Scott & White Health logo.