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Hidden Wonders, Episode Six: Mo Ostin Basketball Center

(Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Savannah Tate

Jan. 31, 2018 4:27 p.m.

The newly constructed Mo Ostin Basketball Center prizes efficiency, fitting two full-size basketball courts in a small corner of campus. Kevin Daly of Kevin Daly Architects discusses how his firm prioritized sustainability in the construction of the center and how the design of the building pays homage to the UCLA basketball tradition.

Savannah Tate: This is Hidden Wonders, a podcast that discovers hidden stories, details and effects in the architecture of our everyday spaces at UCLA. I am your host, Savannah Tate.

Much like the sport of basketball itself, the newly constructed Mo Ostin Basketball Center prizes efficiency. Unveiled this past October, the building fits two full-size basketball courts in what used to be a small triangle of space between the tennis courts and Wasserman Football Center.

Kevin Daly: You know if football is about, in some cases, a certain kind of muscularity, I think basketball is a lot more about efficiency and grace and real simplicity. So we wanted to push the building more in that direction. Not functionalist from a building standpoint, but just really spare and stripped down.

Tate: This is Kevin Daly

Daly: Hi, I’m Kevin Daly, and my firm is Kevin Daly Architects in Los Angeles.

Tate: You may remember him from the second episode of Hidden Wonders because his firm also designed the Mo Ostin Music Center.

Daly said the Ostin Basketball Center was constructed for two reasons. First, in NCAA sports, sports-specific practice facilities have become more common to provide a competitive edge over other colleges. He said UCLA’s reputation as a basketball powerhouse provided additional incentive to build a facility specific to the sport. And second, the new space was intended to ease the overbooked schedule of the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion.

Daly: The men’s team and the women’s team, both of which had had a huge amount of athletic success, basically had to trade off access to the main court to practice. So then every time Pauley was used for an event, the teams got evicted and they would go practice somewhere else on campus. And then the intramural teams would get bumped and games would get canceled … so clearly there was a shortage of dedicated indoor sports facilities on the campus.

Tate: Daly said that by constructing two courts, the teams would not have to compete with each other for use of the area. The basketball center also centralizes all other resources — locker rooms, a training room, a player lounge and conference rooms — into one building. With a relatively small space to build upon, Kevin Daly Architects had to carefully plan how to place all of these amenities together.

Gretchen Stoecker: As you know, the UCLA campus is an urban campus. There isn’t a lot of space, and it was challenging. We finally figured out how to optimize the size of the courts so we could fit both of them without having to stack them and make a multistory building out of two courts stacked on top of each other. So we took out two tennis courts here to make everything fit.

Tate: This is Gretchen Stoecker.

Stoecker: My name is Gretchen Stoecker. I work for Kevin Daly Architects. I was the project architect on this building … The other thing that we tried to do was make this building as energy efficient as possible because for the volume of the building it actually serves very few people on campus. So we’ve developed this natural ventilation system instead of air conditioning. And all of the courts are naturally day-lit.

Tate: Daly added that the whole building is organized around a series of clerestory skylights that face north in order to provide even lighting for both courts. These skylights, made of a bubble-like type of plastic film, also account for the unique shape of the roof.

Daly: The shape of the roof is almost like a clerestory window that’s arched, but the roof directly behind it is almost like a reflecting lens that then bounces that light and distributes it onto the floor … And the idea behind doing that is it let us push as much light as we could on the floor and make it so that at any point (when) the building’s open and it’s during the day you wouldn’t need the lights on.

Tate: He said that his firm also made the air system and ventilation as efficient as possible by placing the ducting underneath the floors of the practice courts.

Daly: So as air heats inside of the practice court … air is pulled from underneath the building, kind of pulled past the cool earth surrounding the ducts, and into the room itself and exhausted at the top of the practice court.

Tate: Daly’s firm further emphasized sustainability and efficiency by choosing glass fiber reinforced concrete panels to frame the building. These panels were delivered to the site in giant blocks for immediate assembly.

Daly: One of the things that was good about that system for this particular use was that that exterior wall system also became the interior framing for the inside of the practice courts … So they were able to speed up the construction and really simplify the overall assembly of elements. And I think that was another one of the sustainability strategies for the project … to keep it spare and make it sustainable by using less stuff to build it.

Tate: Apart from the ceiling design, both courts are nearly identical to that of Pauley Pavilion. Daly said that the coaches requested that they be similar in order to replicate the experience of playing at Pauley.

Daly: We used the exact same floor, the exact same kind of wood on the same kind of suspension system as what Pauley has. We made it so the lighting system could be brought up to super bright levels so it could mimic how bright the floor of Pauley is when they’re broadcasting a game on TV … I think the coaches really wanted the home court advantage to be built into the experience of the players using the practice building.

Tate: Players also have the advantage of evaluating their performances in a nearby film room. Cameras set up on both courts record practice sessions, allowing players to view their own practice as well as analyze past games of their opponents.

On the second level lies the Kevin Love Athletic Performance Center. Daly explained that its placement coincided with the facility’s other goal of recruiting future talent.

Daly: The fact that it was used for recruiting made it so that it also had to have some campus presence … So what we did is make sure that the entrance was conspicuous. But then we put the most public part of the program, the weight room, on the second floor and put that behind glass and made it so that was a really visible part of the building.

Tate: Unlike with the Wasserman Football Center, branding was not as big of a focus for this project. Daly said he chose instead to focus on functionality and simplicity to keep with the UCLA basketball tradition established by John Wooden.

Daly: If John Wooden were still around, you would have the sense that the building should be kind of like a piece of equipment you’d use for training better basketball players. And that was an idea that we kept returning to during the design process … We really thought that the more we could push this to being a stripped down piece of equipment, kind of an apparatus for training, the better off we’d be.

Tate: In all its simplicity, the Mo Ostin Basketball Center is the final installation in Bud Knapp Plaza — the new athletic precinct of campus. It’s a fitting conclusion, considering the unmistakable legacy the basketball team and its coaches have left on the pages of UCLA’s history.

For Daily Bruin Radio, this is Savannah Tate. Join us next month for another episode of Hidden Wonders.

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