Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No end in sight for Allen

Jayhawks approaching 600th win in fieldhouse


Lew Perkins, who has spoken to, and received e-mails from, countless die-hard Kansas University sports fans in his five years as athletic director, says Jayhawk nation is in total agreement on one topic: the future of 52-year-old Allen Fieldhouse.

"Nobody has ever said to me, 'Lew, we need to get a new building,'" Perkins said during an interview in KU's tradition-rich hoops palace - site of 599 KU men's basketball victories and 106 defeats entering today's 7 p.m. nonconference clash against Northern Arizona."The people I run into are unanimous. They love this building."

As does Perkins, who says there are no plans on the table - or in the back recesses of his mind - to build a shiny, new, multi-million-dollar fieldhouse as KU nears victory No. 600.

"There will be no new fieldhouse while I'm here. I've done a lot of dumb things in my life. That is not one," Perkins said with a smile. "We would lose so much. What we are doing is improving what we have. We have one of the great facilities in the world. We have to keep improving it, making it better - continuing to improve the lighting, bathrooms, concessions, concourses.

"We don't want to ever lose the mystique, the history, the presentation, but we need to update. I look at this as a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful old antique house, but you've got to upgrade the plumbing. You've got to upgrade the electricity and other things."

Perkins already has been part of some significant improvements to the fieldhouse, including the addition of the Booth Family Hall of Athletics as well as new videoboard, lighting, sound system and roof.

On tap for the coming offseason is a $15 million project that will tackle improving the concourses, rest rooms, men's and women's locker rooms as well as mechanical and electrical improvements and added space for fire and medical staffs.

Skyboxes are not part of the fieldhouse's future.

"I don't think it would be appropriate for basketball. I am not a big skybox guy for basketball," Perkins said. "I think you lose a lot."

Perkins is a fan of arenas with character.

He played college basketball at Iowa Fieldhouse, home of the Hawkeyes from 1927 until 1983, when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built.

"It seated 13,000 people. There were pillars, no chairbacks," Perkins said. "It was the type of arena college basketball was supposed to be played in.

"I spent three or four years in Philadelphia at the Palestra. I've been around some of the great buildings. I rank this No. 1 not because I'm the AD here. To come and watch a game here ... there's no better place."

He had never seen a game at Allen until after he became AD.

"The first time I walked into Allen Fieldhouse, I said to myself, 'What is everybody making a fuss about?''' Perkins said. "After seeing my first game here, there was no question how awesome this place was. To me, the history, the tradition, how close the fans are to the court ... more important than anything else is how knowledgeable the fans are. As good as the building is ... the fans make it better because they are so knowledgeable."

They also are loud at times, and one can envision a loud roar if 3-0 KU can wrap up win No. 600 against 3-1 Northern Arizona tonight.

"One of the great things of having this great facility is we keep winning here," Perkins said. "It's so intimidating to come in and play. I watch a lot of the visiting teams especially if they have not been in here before. I watch warmups. They keep looking around. Their eyes are big.

"We have coaches that call us. They say, 'Can we play a game there?' They want to coach in this facility, which tells you a lot about the facility."

The fieldhouse won't be changed, but KU before too long may have a new practice facility. Perkins said Horejsi Center did not meet all the KU hoops team's needs.

"Just because that facility was built as a volleyball facility. We need to have a basketball facility," Perkins said. "Right now there are no specifics. It is on our drawing board. We have to look at that. That is on our list ... it is a priority we have to continue to look at."


Jeremy LeMaster 10 years, 7 months ago

P.S. It is listed as a football story on the front page!

Displayhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

"He played college basketball at Iowa Fieldhouse, home of the Hawkeyes from 1927 until 1983, when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built."

How come Lew got that much eligibility??? Can we bring back Danny??? What the heck! Let's bring back Wilt too! LOL

Cornfed 10 years, 7 months ago

Good I was hoping we had gave thought to a practice facility! Hope it blows Baylors away!

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 7 months ago

First of all, I absolutely love what the football team is in the midst of accomplishing. And I am keenly aware that there is a most insanely exciting football game coming up this week, but I have to say: one measly little article? On game day? The B-Ball team has been this website and the LJW's bread and butter for generations. I can't believe I have to go elsewhaere to find out a little something about Northern AZ's capabilities, potential match-ups, etc. This one tiny article is all you're going to print about it? And it's not even about the game, it's about the Allen Fieldhouse. It's freakin' GAME DAY. There is no hype at all? The football game is half a week away and you post six articles about it? This is not about loyalty to either sport, I love them both. I just want balance from you guys. The B-Ball suddenly looks like a Homecoming Queen who got dropped on prom night for some chick who's guaranteed to put out. Balance. Its all I'm asking for.

jayharchitect 10 years, 7 months ago

KoolKeithFreeze - Agreed. I was really looking forward to today, because I would get to read all about football AND basketball... Or so I thought.

hobrauer 10 years, 7 months ago

Displayhawk, come on kid, read the sentence "He played college basketball at Iowa Fieldhouse[COMMA] home of the Hawkeyes from 1927 until 1983..." it was addressing how long Iowa Fieldhouse was in use, not the length of Perkins basketball career.

JayCeph 10 years, 7 months ago

What does it mean when people constantly refer the KU fans in the Fieldhouse as 'knowledgeable'? Do other fans venture into their respective gyms and wonder why people are tossing an orange orb at suspended rings in the air?

I just don't get it. I must not be very 'knowledgeable.'

Timmay97 10 years, 7 months ago

As weird as this sounds......I'm obsessed with KU basketball and have been for a long time. However, with the recent success of KU's football team, I'm almost feeling like a frontrunner rooting for them. Honestly, out of anyone here, who truly monitored and watched the KU football team the past 10 years?

I think it's great for the kids, it's great for Kansas athletics, but most importantly, it's great for us fans to be able to watch two quality teams.

We will have a KU sweep this weekend. Missouri is going down and Arizona is going down!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk baby!

okjhok 10 years, 7 months ago

You have to keep in mind this isn't the KC Star. These guys are probably working their asses off right now just trying to keep up with the football circus. I'm willing to let it pass, at least for this game against a lesser opponent. Not shortchanging NAU. They've got some players, but they're not on KU's level. The basketball hype will come soon enough.

Displayhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

C'mon hobrauer, lighten up will ya! I was saying it in jest, hence the LOL (laugh out loud) at the end. That being said, it still could have, and should have been worded differently to make the meaning more clear! Maybe something like ..."He played college basketball IN Iowa Fieldhouse, WHICH WAS THE home of the Hawkeyes from 1927 to 1983, when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built.

DCSven 10 years, 7 months ago

Seriously ... i live for KU hoops, but this is KU-MU, 2 vs. 3, BCS National Title hopes, undefeated, series tied 53-53-9, and oh yes, it bears repeating because nothing else really matters ... KU-MU ... um, that trumps NAU by a stretch, with no disrespect to NAU intended at all. I bet Bill Self is the happiest man on campus right now with all the focus on football, less pressure during these tune up games. Of course, an undefeated national championship football team could bring some new pressures ;-)

Craig Lang 10 years, 7 months ago

I admit, I am saving my basketball excitement for the real test Sunday v. Arizona.

bmcmich1 10 years, 7 months ago

okjhok...good post. I think you're looking at it the right way.

timmay: I can honestly say that I 100% followed the football team through the lean years you speak of, from Wegner to Johner-led offenses all the way up to hot toddy now. But, that's just me--I was raised to follow KU Football whether its 0-12 or 12-0. That's not to say that I am knocking those who didn't, though. I also, like most KU people, was a rabid fan of the basketball team during that time too.

In echoing okjhok, I think there's no argument that KU Athletics has never seen a football game with this much hype leading up to it. The LJW staff has simply never had a KU-MU game of this magnitude to cover, and under the circumstances I think that this article championing one of the finest venues in college hoops was great. Sure, there could have been more in-depth coverage of NAU, but the possibility of a 600th win in Allen probably trumps the opponent tonight. If the staff is stretched thin and can only write one basketball article today, I would rather read a story about our AD's respect for Allen than a breakdown of Northern Arizona. Rock Chalk.

actorman 10 years, 7 months ago

"Honestly, out of anyone here, who truly monitored and watched the KU football team the past 10 years?"

I don't know about others, but I've been a KU football fan for over 30 years, nearly as long as I've been a KU basketball fan. I went to every football game when I was a student, and I've watched KU on TV every chance I could get (which wasn't very often until this year). I also read about them on this site regularly, and most importantly I informed Joe Mortensen's uncle about KU still having scholarships available, which is how Joe ended up at KU.

That's what makes this season so special for me, that I've been through all the bad and mediocre and (very rarely) good seasons to get to this point.

As for your comment, Display, I got that it was a joke, but hobrauer made a good point. It was actually clear what Gary was saying: "He played college basketball at Iowa Fieldhouse, home of the Hawkeyes from 1927 until 1983, when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built." Note that there is NO COMMA after "Hawkeyes," which makes it quite clear that the years are referring to the Hawkeyes' home and not to when Lew played. If there had been a comma after "Hawkeyes," then it would have been poorly worded. (You could, on the other hand, argue that it sounds like Lew Perkins played at Iowa Fieldhouse when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built.) This completes the English lesson.

KU 10 years, 7 months ago

Actorman.......I was just told about a website for watching sports on tv. I haven't actually tried it yet, but here it is:

jaybate 10 years, 7 months ago


I love what's happened to AFH and people's appreciation of AFH as a special building.

AFH seems to have matured from a wild young building trying to be all things to all sports and university activities into a mature building that is used mostly for what it does best.

AFH just does have enormous physical presense, because of its shape, size, siting and subtleties of window patterns, roof pitch and materials textures that just barely prevent visual boredom, yet, at the same time, do not detract in any way from the robustness of the form.

AFH uses a small d democratic form language to accomplish what great public structures usually do: it stands out among its surroundings and uses its outside appearance to call attention to the importance of what goes on inside.

The true beauty and essential midcentury modernity of AFH is that it is a building that strikes a magnificient balance between space and volume on one hand and about mass and weight on the other. Its huge mass bids one's eyes to it, but its the volume of space inside that draws one to it irresistably.

I have never walked, or driven by that building, without looking at it, no matter how familiar I grew with it during my years on the campus, or visits after. One doesn't encounter many buildings like that in one's life.

But more importantly, I have never walked, or driven by it, without wanting to go inside it; that is great design by ANY standard.

Great capitol buildings and cathedrals are for the most part the only buildings that have evinced a similar effect on me.

jaybate 10 years, 7 months ago

But great capital buildings and cathedrals usually accomplish their magic not only with size, massing and siting, but with a load of ornament packing symbolic baggage about power and class strata. And they are often not only massive, but dominated by an incredible heavyiness.

AFH has what might be called a kind of neutral bouyancy to the eye. Its huge rectanglular footprint, which combined with its slightly pitched roof, distinctly rectilinear and horizontal massing and huge inner volume revealed by horizontal window banding, makes what could have seemed a heavy brick out house into a building as much about space as about mass. It is a building, despite its hugeness, that seems to neither float, nor sink on its site. It could just as easily have landed on the site from outer space, as have arisen from it. It is a remarkable counterbalance, for such a large, borderline ungainly, relatively unadorned building. It has, regardless of the actual intentions of its architects, structural engineers and builders, what all great mid-century modernist architecture aspired toward, and which few achieved: an illusion of neutrally bouyant space. The walls and roof are just their to delineate the space. The essense of the building IS its space.

The really amazing thing is that the architects, structural engineers and builders pulled this off pretty much without relying for the most part on a traditional modernist form language that creates the illusion. They didn't use a lot of huge, sweeping glass areas, or a lot of exposed external structure with arched, horizontal members. They got the effect largely by taking the archetype of a barn, scaling it up to almost hallucinogenic dimensions, then squishing the pitch of the roof, and by fooling the eye into seeing alot of horizontalness by running ribbons of glass on the ends and sides and using subtleties of texture on the sides to reinforce the horizontalness. And yet, they did not just turn it into the illusion of a flattened barn. They introduced some verticality in the surfacing to create just enough complexity and contradiction to paradox the eye into being able to sense the other forms encouraging a sense of neutral bouyancy.

jaybate 10 years, 7 months ago

Compare AFH's effect to the dense, massive paper weights that have been built for buildings the last 20 years--during the reigns of post modernism and then neomodernism--the successors to midcentury modernism and whatever anomaly of that midcentury modernism that AFH represents. Recent architecture looks heavier and more grounded than it even is. AFH looks less heavy than its gargantuan dimensions suggest. Frankly, it reminds me of an aircraft carrier at the dock. Its heavy, but damned if it doesn't float, too.

AFH lacks the virtuosic beauty of a building designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright, or Mies van der Roe. Rather it has the civil engineered elegance (just enough surface and structure to do the job and no more) of a fine bridge, or naval ship. I've forgotten the architects of AFH, but I would bet that whomever it was, their emphasis was on structural engineering.

The beauty that emerges from engineers is quite distinct from the kind that emerges from great architects. Compare any bridge you love to look at with any house you admire. Engineers seek elegance of structure and let the form of that structure speak for itself. Architects, even the ones who pay lipservice to form-follows-function, work in a much broader palate, so to speak. They aim to work with all aspects of a building to create a harmonic whole.

Looking at AFH, I, at least, feel the hand of a structural engineer, more so than an architect. And in this case at least, we are all the better for it.

Post Script: I hope KU gets a state-of-the-art practice facility, if that is what is needed to make the players better players, or, alternatively, if such a practice facility is what is needed in the way of incentivizing crony capitalism away from trying to replace AFH, itself. But I for one would a whole lot rather practice in AFH, if I were a player.

rockchalkAZ 10 years, 7 months ago

I just read all three of jaybate's posts, and i must say, i don't remember any of it

kerbyd 10 years, 7 months ago

Hey guys, I'm out in AZ. Anybody know if the game will be on TV here? Thanks!

bmcmich1 10 years, 7 months ago

should be on espn gameplan. if you don't have it, i would call sports bars nearby and see if they do.

jaybate 10 years, 7 months ago

Atta boy, rockchalkAZ, that's the mature way to deal with it. Not one ad hom. Just like water off a duck's, er, a Jayhawk's back. :-)

You walk the talk of America. Its still a partially free country and everyone gets to post as they like, so long as they don't go vulgar or pornographic in language, or shout fire in a crowded field house. Major props to rockchalkAZ.

But, as this is America for me, too, it also doesn't matter a drop to me that you don't remember a thing about what I wrote.

Vive l'difference and rock chalk.

ku_fan25 10 years, 7 months ago

yea well he said he didn't wanna change the tradition and all that. well he already messed that up by screwing with the uniforms. but they aren't too bad. but i miss the others. but i like the football uniforms they look pretty good. but they are too plain and i think the font just doesnt look great with the unis cause the uniforms are plain

jayharchitect 10 years, 7 months ago


AWESOME POSTS. I feel like I just got out of a lecture by Mark Wigley. You blew my mind!

jayharchitect 10 years, 7 months ago

jaybate, sorry for the misspell, I was so excited.

jaybate 10 years, 7 months ago


I am so glad to hear from a KU architect. I hope you are either studying to build great spaces, or already out building great spaces. There's always too much bad space and never enough good space. Fill me in on Mark Wigley. I hate to plead ignorance. He must be a very fine professor of architecture somewhere, hopefully at KU. I'm not an architecture grad, but one of my best friends was and it was a good one and I have heard it has grown considerably in stature. I learned what I learned about design and architecture as a feasiblity consultant in real estate and later by befriending several designers digitally. There is a huge subculture of great designers out there and they are among the most nurturing of professionals I have run into, if you are not trying to steal their meal tickets. :-) Keep working at it. The world is about to go through a paradigm shift in building materials. especially at the nano scale. You are in the right field at the right time, even if you have to go to China awhile to practice your trade.

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