Housing Complex

Architecture Students Whip Up Ideas For a New Uline Arena

Team One's proposal for a "spine," with a woven metal facade on which light could be projected.

Last month, Jonathan O'Connell reported that the architecture firm HKS and Douglas Development had a mind meld of sorts. The designers wanted to focus on the Uline Arena for their annual three-day student fellowship, and owner Doug Jemal had dreamed of turning it into a music museum.

One month later, three teams of students from mostly local universities who'd never met each other before were given their assignment: Design a renovation of the arena and adjacent ice house that would accommodate a performing arts center, a music museum, and a music lab for Little Kids Rock. Each group had to include a different number of seats in the auditorium, and make it "economically feasible."

Oh, and they only had 48 hours.

Naturally, the designs are very sketchy, with only the vaguest ideas of how everything would come together—I sat through the presentations on Monday, and am not going to attempt to relay the descriptions in detail. But it never hurts to have some pretty pictures to shake up how we think of a building, especially one that's now plastered with advertising and used for parking.

The most important verdict, of course, will be that of a future tenant, as Jemal made sure to remind the student designers. No big operator is interested at the moment in the stage where the Beatles played—he's even asked Paul McCartney about the idea of doing a British music museum there, and didn't have anything exciting to report.

"At the end of the day, all your designs are great, but they're going to be driven by those retailers that do go in there," Jemal told them. "That's what we're faced with all the time is cost. Cost cost cost. As easy as you can possibly make it. They're not going to change the way they do business in order to accommodate Uline arena. We have to change how we do business."

Here's the slideshow of what the teams came up with.

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