University of Chicago Laboratory Schools – Jackman Field & Service Building
Affiliated with the University of Chicago, The Laboratory Schools are a private day school that serves the youngest members of the University’s Chicago’s academic community. This school offers grades starting at nursery school through high school.
Jackman Field is located on the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools’ historic campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. This field is used by more than 1,000 players, students, coaches, and instructors. Additionally, the field is used by University of Chicago athletic and intramural programs.
The field was not able to handle the increasing volume of traffic, which was the reasoning behind the much-needed improvements. As it stood, Jackman Field’s natural grass turf area had poor drainage that resulted in uneven surfaces, bare spots, and inconsistent field conditions because the grass turf did not have time to recover from heavy use. It caused the school to, on occasion, cancel or move activities to another location because the turf was in a poor condition that was not safe to use.
This project was divided into two phases: the first for the athletic field, followed by the service building. During the design phase, Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA) recommended a soil infiltration test to help determine the rate of water absorption. As suspected, it was determined the soil had an extremely high absorption rate that reduced the amount of stormwater storage volume required. This resulted in significant cost savings, which the client used to install new LED lights around the field.
The school sought to replace the natural turf with synthetic turf to create a safe, long-lasting, cost-efficient solution to the field’s issues. The school chose to use a unique material called Nike Grind for their synthetic turf infill layer. Nike Grind is created from Nike’s recycled surplus manufacturing materials and athletic footwear. This was a sustainable option that greatly reduced the heat island effect that occurs with traditional crumb rubber infill.
Steps were coming from the main academic building and team locker rooms onto a grassy area that had a steep grade and no sidewalks leading to the field. Instead of adding ramps to meet ADA requirements, EEA proposed raising and paving the grassy area to meet the building elevation. This created a plaza and raised viewing platforms for students and fans to gather. Lastly, a full assortment of utilities was routed to serve the building including, water, electrical, and communications. The project finished with landscape design along Woodlawn and 61st Street parkways.