New field house opens at Exeter

State-of-the-art facility welcomes wrestling, track, tennis and more.

Nicole Pellaton
January 27, 2018
Field House

Ask Exonian wrestlers and track athletes what they need to up their game, and for the last few years the answer has been a modern facility designed specifically for their sports.

Life changed today for these athletes — and all students seeking to practice, train or exercise on an interior surface more forgiving than ice or a hardwood court — with the official opening of the stunning 85,000-square-foot William Boyce Thompson Field House.

Designed to benefit the entire community with recreational space, the field house provides year-round, highly advanced training facilities for the track and field teams and a dedicated wrestling center. Tennis courts, an infield and batting cages deliver year-round support to tennis, baseball and softball athletes.

Composed of three levels, the field house connects to Exeter’s existing gym complex (Love Gym and Thompson Gym) through interior hallways, adding dedicated spaces for a variety of sports and allowing for the expansion of programming in physical education, club sports and fitness activities.

The ground floor is open and brightly lit, stunning in the sheer power of the space. Entirely covered in a synthetic surface designed for running sports, the track level contains:

  • 200-meter, six-lane track oval (eight lanes at the straightaway) with NCAA-recommended 60-foot radius and lane width of 3 feet, 6 inches
  • Dedicated NCAA-regulation areas for shot put, high jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault, enabling simultaneous, safe competition at meets
  • Four tennis courts
  • Multipurpose infield
  • Two batting cages
  • Nets that drop from the ceiling to allow safe concurrent use of the various areas
  • Bleacher seating for 500 spectators
  • 14 cameras for broadcasting meets at Exeter Live

Located on the building’s north side, the mezzanine consists of an 8,000-square-foot wrestling center (with two cameras for live streaming matches) and the adjoining Hahn Room that overlooks the track and, to the east, outdoor tennis courts and playing fields. This space will serve year-round as a location for classes, meetings, club activities and spectator viewing.

Parking for 170 vehicles underneath the facility will be available to game spectators.

With the opening of the new field house, Exeter will once again host home track meets. And, for the first time, will be able to broadcast indoor track and field, wrestling and indoor tennis. 

Sustainable building

Designed by Architectural Resources Cambridge, the field house was built to LEED standards with a goal of gold certification. Like all major construction projects at Exeter, it was developed and erected using a nationally-recognized protocol for sustainable construction. Key features include:

  • Wood from the running track in the Cage (this building’s predecessor) has been reutilized as flooring in the Hahn Room.
  • The rooftop solar array, consisting of more than 1,500 panels and one of the largest in the state, is designed to offset the majority of the building’s electric load and is projected to save the Academy $2 million over the system’s lifetime.

South Campus revitalized

In June, the William Boyce Thompson Field House will be joined by The David E. and Stacey L. Goel Center for Theater and Dance, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. These two buildings, the first new academic buildings to be constructed on campus since the Phelps Science Center in 2001, will realize Exeter’s vision for a renewed South Campus that serves as a new community hub, attracting all students, every day, to spaces designed for 21st-century Harkness learning.