Populous designs Cleveland Cavaliers sports performance centre


Global architecture studio Populous has unveiled the design for a sports performance centre on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio.

A future home of the NBA team the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 210,000-square foot (19,510-square metre) development “is slated to be one of the world’s largest training facilities”.

Cleveland Clinic by Populous rendering
Populous has designed a sports training facility for Cleveland, Ohio

Known as the Cleveland Clinic Global Peak Performance Center, the development will offer training and care for professional and community athletes, and it will be the first vertical development in the Cuyahoga Riverfront Master Plan, a $3.5 billion (£2.7 billion), 35-acre urban transformation project spearheaded by Bedrock Real Estate and designed by Adjaye Associates that prioritizes accessibility and sustainability for the city.

The design for the performance centre is guided by three core principles: embracing the Cuyahoga River, creating a “local icon” and elevating the athlete’s experience.

Cleveland Clinic by Populous rendering
Its design is meant to connect it with the adjacent river

“Populous’ design of the Global Peak Performance Center will catalyze the Cuyahoga Riverfront development and energize the City of Cleveland,” said senior principal at Populous Jonathan Mallie.

“The building’s design and aesthetic connects the movement of the river with the motion of the athlete, blending seamlessly with the industrial character of its environment.”

The form of the structure will bend around the riverfront, following the path of a newly revitalized and preserved Eagle Road that allows pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular connectivity with the surrounding context.

“The center takes inspiration from the colors and curvature of the Cuyahoga River and the surrounding valley, creating core-to-shore connectivity that adds new dimension to the coastline,” the team said.

Cleveland Clinic by Populous rendering
Its materials will integrate it with the industrial surroundings

The inset ground floor –  housing the Cavaliers’ designated space – will be of cast-in-place concrete with integrated LED lighting.

Above, the second and third floors will hover over the public zone with a swooping curtain wall in fritted glass. Bronze-toned aluminium blades will run vertically up the facade, shading the expansive glass while expressing a sense of horizontal movement around the curved corners.

To serve as a “local icon”, the performance centre will be located just blocks from the Gateway Sports Complex and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where it will tie into the existing sports and entertainment infrastructure of Downtown Cleveland.

“Revitalizing our waterfronts is crucial for the longevity and sustainability of our cities,” Mallie told Dezeen. “Our team at Populous is proud and committed to shaping the landscape of Cleveland’s future, not only for elite athletes but for the health and wellness of all Clevelanders.”

The centre will not only cater to professional athletes – it will have training, treatment, nutrition and recovery services for athletes from all walks of life. The facility will be the only Cleveland Clinic-backed professional facility open to the public and provide a platform for the Cavs Academy, a program that serves 50,000 regional youth athletes annually.

Cleveland Clinic by Populous rendering
It will hover over the ground at places

The team plans to break ground on the Cleveland Clinic Global Peak Performance Center before the end of 2024, pending approval.

In addition to Adjaye’s master plan, other high-profile projects in Cleveland include the future expansion of IM Pei’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism and a light-filled medical academic building for Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University by Foster + Partners.

The renderings are courtesy of Populous.



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