The University of California, Los Angeles set out to create a state-of-the-art complex for their football program, representative of the University’s football heritage and with the intention of further raising the caliber of their athletic program, promoting player development and driving the recruitment and retention of players and coaches.
ZGF Architects was commissioned to plan and design the Wasserman Football Center. Included in this was the opportunity to ideate and execute an environmental graphics program that would reflect and enhance the team culture, ranging from branding and identity to storytelling and placemaking, wayfinding and room signage and donor recognition.
The color palette acknowledges UCLA branding in the context of the football program, with deeper tones of UCLA blue alongside stealthy black in floor coverings, furnishings and millwork. The University’s gold is always represented in its true metallic form through brass fixtures and graphic inlays.
In the lobby, a floor-to-ceiling UCLA logo integrated into the black and gold ribbed wood of the interior architecture contributes a sense of place and identity. Multimedia vitrines are inset into the logo wall, displaying National Championship and Heisman Trophy wins, as well as a “Bruins breaking barriers” tribute. A broad pathway leading new recruits from the entrance to the elevator is formed in the slate flooring, called the “Letterman Walk,” which highlights players who have lettered in the sport.
Complementing team icons of the past, a new fearsome and iconic bruin bear was created by ZGF Architects. It can be seen throughout the facility as simple cameos for room name plates and in the wall of staggered carved wood silhouettes denoting UCLA players drafted into the NFL. One of the most impactful displays of this new bear is the textural roaring bear mosaic created with 11,520 three-and-a-half inch blocks stained a dozen shades of grey.
Custom tile mosaics have also been created, adding unique visual interest to wet areas. This treatment solved graphic issues the design team faced when dealing with iconic photographs that became highly pixilated when enlarged. In this way, historic moments were given a vibrant new lease on life.
The ZGF Architects designed project included graphic representations of 11 different large-scale branding / storytelling moments, five executions combining donor recognition and storytelling, six additional donor recognition moments, 191 additional signage elements for wayfinding, room naming and numbering, ADA code signage, 102 bear cameos and a special sign for “Joe’s Barber Shop” in the players’ basement locker room and lounge.
The graphic experience of the Wasserman Football Center has proven to be attractive to donors, with many timeless and seamlessly integrated “donor moments” to choose from. The new environment has improved the university’s ability to compete with rival schools and to attract highly talented new recruits.
An unexpected consequence was the extent to which players love the space and have made it their home away from home. Even when not required to be on site, players use the space to study and do homework.
"A entirely new look at athletic complexes, elevated and sophisticated. Compelling typographic branding that is unified and integrated. Innovative installation techniques and materiality throughout that is subtle, highly considered— and surprising!"
"A wonderful interplay of materials and graphics. Unexpected in a sports context, it is generating a fresh and strong identity."
"This a refined and refreshing take on sports design, beautifully subtle for this subject matter. The use of various materials is interesting yet still feels cohesive."
Ted Hyman (partner in charge); Braulio Baptista (design partner); Sean McGreal (senior designer); Marisa Keckeise, David Alf, Amir Hamed (project designer), Lily Chiu (senior project architect); Matthew Tribe, Shara Castillo (technical designers); Phiroze Titina (project manager); Randall Stegmeier (senior interior designer); Antony Tavlian (interior designer); Jenny Lee, Suejin Park (environmental graphic designer); Brian Maguire (fabrication and prototyping)
PCL Construction Services, Inc. (general contractor)
Ceilings Plus (custom perforated metalwork), Group KG on behalf of CP (lockers), Premier Tile (slate engraving), AD/S (brass lettering and discs), ZGF Architects (prototyping, leatherwork)