For any sports franchise, a new season calls for a fresh start both on and off the field. In order to be the best in the game, a team must be innovative to find new styles of play that will ensure top results. For the 2018 season, the Chicago White Sox also put this innovation into practice to create their state-of-the-art visitors’ clubhouse.
Originally completed in 1994, the visitors’ clubhouse was due for an update. Working within Major League Baseball (MLB) guidelines and directed by the Illinois Sports Facility Authority, the Chicago-based architecture and interior design firm, Eastlake Studio, updated and expanded the 4,000 ft2 (372 m2) clubhouse.
The project included brand new features such as a kitchen, lounge, video replay technology and an enlarged MLB equipment room. “This was an extensive remodel because we didn’t just use the layout of the existing space, but completely demolished and rebuilt,” says Eastlake Designer Amber Van Kley. “We reorganized the space to let it flow and function.”
With the season rapidly approaching, the Chicago White Sox needed to be quick, efficient and cost-effective with their clubhouse update. According to Van Kley, “Cost was always a factor. We needed to have good looking and durable, high-quality products, but we also needed to be economical.”
Because of the strict lead-time and financial parameters, Van Kley recounted, “We were trying to salvage the lockers and other materials that were there before, but it was not working.” The decision to completely demolish and rebuild from scratch was an unexpected change during the construction process, and pressure mounted. In the midst of this turn of events, REHAU saved the day. After much debate, Van Kley explained, “We just decided to use REHAU for everything…the lockers and other surfaces throughout the clubhouse. The project wasn’t originally supposed to be REHAU, but it added a lot of value to the design.”
Finding the perfect surface wasn’t easy. Van Kley recalled that many options were presented, including the REHAU FENIX NTM matte surface, until the executives decided to go with a wood look using deeply textured RAUVISIO terra Mountain Oak. “The graining and texture of the RAUVISIO terra product is beautiful and looks like real wood,” said Van Kley. “We convinced them that no one would know it wasn’t veneer.” The RAUVISIO terra Mountain Oak color was also perfect in satisfying the team’s desire for a neutral design palette that coordinates with White Sox colors without over branding.
The RAUVISIO terra surface was used to construct the lockers, as wall panels in the shower area and video room and for the cabinetry in the kitchen and shower area. Systems Unlimited, a Chicago-based architectural millwork company, fabricated and installed the components. The project used 195 laminate sheets 51 x 120 x 0.035 in (1300 x 3050 x 0.9 mm) and matching adhesive-free REHAU LaserEdge applied using a hot-air edgebander.
Unlike real wood, RAUVISIO terra is scratch-resistant and does not succumb to typical wear and tear. Rather than melamine paper, RAUVISIO terra is made from HPL, which creates a deeply textured wood-grain surface that is extremely durable. Thanks to REHAU LaserEdge technology, the RAUVISIO terra wall panels and doors have a seamless surface without visible joints.
Overall, the installation process was easy, and the decision to incorporate the REHAU product proved to be a successful one. According to General Contractor Pat Hayes, “The look and feel of the RAUVISIO terra surface is great. Installation was smooth and everything met its end date.”
Completed a week before the opening game, the renovation of the visitors’ clubhouse came as a surprise to most people, but was an instant triumph. According to Van Kley, “We loved seeing the reactions when the visiting teams would come through the locker room.” She noted how impressed everyone was when they saw the clubhouse, and it was the RAUVISIO terra Mountain Oak that completed the look. The first pitch had yet to be thrown, but the Chicago White Sox already had their first win.
|Project||Chicago White Sox|
|Type of Project||Visitors’ Clubhouse, remodeled 2018|
|Cabinet Manufacturer||Systems Unlimited Inc.|
|REHAU Products||RAUVISIO terra™ with perfectly matched REHAU LaserEdge™ technology|
|Photographer||Steve Hall, Hall + Merrick Photographers|