Case Study

Wesley Brown Field House at the U.S. Naval Academy New Field of Dreams is Ready for Roll Call at the U.S. Naval Academy

Annapolis, Maryland, USA

The Challenge

Founded in 1845 and named the United States Naval Academy in 1850, the institution has grown from 10 acres to 338 on a site along the confluence of the Severn River and the Chesapeake Bay. Due to their unique military training regiment, all Midshipmen practice intercollegiate and recreational sports during the same hours. The charge from the U.S. Navy was to design a structure that would house these athletic activities, offering flexibility for multiple sports, while capturing the spirit and character of the buildings on the Yard, and creating a timeless, dynamic image along the waterfront where the Academy’s sailing fleet is docked.

The Design Solution

Named for Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Brown, USN (ret.) the Naval Academy’s first African American Midshipman, this state-of-the-art, 140,000 square-foot (13,006 sm) indoor sports facility is located on the banks of the Severn River overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. One of the most technologically unique indoor field houses in the country, the design-build project represents a successful collaboration between HKS and Hensel Phelps Construction Company. The field house features an indoor track with hydraulically-raised banked turns. At the far east end of the main hall is a roll that holds a full-sized artificial turf foot-ball/lacrosse field that mechanically rolls out over the track, which promotes the flexible use of the facility. Other program elements in this multi-use facility include three basketball/volleyball courts, a 6,000-square-foot (557 sm) weight and fitness room, sports medicine clinic, team and individual locker rooms, laundry, offices, meeting room and trophy hall. The design includes a full-height window wall along the entire north side of the field house, providing diffuse natural light and great views of Severn River and the Naval Academy’s sailing fleet to the athletes inside the facility.

The Design Impact

To help reduce its carbon footprint, HKS designers integrated many of the USGBC’s leading design strategies for sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality into the design and construction of the new field house. The facility successfully managed the storm water quantity and quality that is so important to the U.S. Naval Academy due to its proximity to the water, while remaining elevated above the Severn River to serve as a flood wall and helping protect other facilities on the yard.

Project Features

  • 140,000 square-foot (13,006 sm) facility
  • 76,000 square-foot (7,060 sm) retractable Magic Carpet AstroTurf
  • 200 meter hydraulically-raised track oval
  • 6,000 square-foot (557 sm) weight training room
  • Sports performance clinic
  • Locker rooms and offices


  • 2009 Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Commander’s Award for Design Excellence
  • 2009 AIA Richmond Chapter, Merit Award for Design Excellence