Flex, Stretch, Pump, Press

Campbell Athletics Complex
Jenica Miller

This spring, Columbia opened its new five-story, 47,700-square-foot sports center at the Baker Athletics Complex on the northern tip of Manhattan. The Campbell Sports Center, named in honor of University Trustee chair and former Lions head football coach William V. Campbell ’62CC, features a strength-and-conditioning center, coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, an auditorium, and a lounge and study area. It is the first major training facility ever created for the Lions at Baker, which is the University’s main outdoor sports compound.

“The opening of the Campbell Sports Center has done exactly what we hoped, which is provide a home for our varsity teams that practice and compete at the Baker Athletics Complex,” says Columbia athletics director M. Dianne Murphy. “Our athletes and coaches say they love being there. It’s an iconic building with lots of natural light pouring in, great views, and an energizing vibe. It’s a place where you want to be working out, getting faster and stronger.”

The Campbell Sports Center, at 218th Street and Broadway, has improved the lives of players on the nine varsity teams that compete at Baker: football, baseball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s soccer. Previously, these teams worked out and held meetings at Dodge Fitness Center, the Morningside gym that is shared with the general student population, and traveled uptown for full practices. Now, the players do all their sports-related work at Baker.

“Just being able to go right from lift to practice without having to schedule in as much time for travel has really helped,” says Creaghan Peters ’14CC, a member of the field-hockey team. “It makes a big difference in managing your academics.”

The core of the Campbell Sports Center is a spacious strength-and-conditioning room with huge windows that frame views of downtown Manhattan and the shores of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers.

The glass and aluminum-clad building was designed by Columbia professor Steven Holl, who is one of the world’s leading architects, and his associate Chris McVoy ’92GSAPP. Holl created MIT’s honeycomb-like Simmons Hall and a knotty cluster of towers connected by sky bridges in Beijing called Linked Hybrid. The Campbell Sports Center is Holl’s first building in New York City.

“It’s clearly a Holl building, with its abstract façade, eccentric spaces, and complex geometry,” wrote architecture critic Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times March 6. “It’s not a beauty. But it is a tough, sophisticated, and imaginative work of architecture.”