The Donald “J” Seelye Athletic Center provides Western Michigan University with a top-notch indoor practice and training facility for all the “turf” sports (i.e., soccer, baseball, softball, golf, and football) in the WMU Athletic Department. With 112,000 SF of space, the facility provides space for student recreation activities and offers welcoming spaces for casual visitors.
The central attraction of the facility is the 53,000 SF practice field. The 70-yard practice field features a 70-foot clear height between the ground and the roof structure as well as runoff practice space, retractable batting cages, and a 150’ x 70’ divider net.
Locker rooms, training facilities, and equipment areas, as well as the Alumni Varsity Club Room and the awards display hall, are organized in a three-story triangular component at the place of the former Oakland Gym. Coach’s offices are designed to double as spectator suites overlooking Waldo Stadium and the indoor practice field.
A desire to keep the facility stylistically compatible with Waldo Stadium, while maintaining the historic character of East Campus, was a strong influence on both the design and material selection of the building. The east façade of Oakland Gym has been retained to create a sense of historic continuity. The combination of brick and precast concrete creates a visual bridge between the older architectural styles of the East Campus buildings and the more contemporary materials and style of the adjacent Waldo Stadium. Extensive use of translucent wall panels and exterior glazing fill the interior environment of the Seelye Center with natural light. Just as important as these aesthetic touches are the functional aspects of the building’s design By placing the main structural components of the facility on the exterior of the building, projections into the indoor field were minimized to create a safer practice environment.
Offering the best possible facilities for current WMU athletes, the Donald “J” Seelye Athletic Center will also be an alluring feature to aid the WMU Athletic Department in recruiting high-caliber student athletes for years to come.