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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Home for Naismith’s original rules of ‘Basket Ball’ taking shape on KU campus

DeBruce Center's target opening date is now April

Curtis Marsh, director of the DeBruce Center, discusses some of the features planned for the "Rules Gallery" while standing next to the space where James Naismith's original rules of "Basket Ball" will be housed and on display for the public, during a walking tour of the facility on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

Curtis Marsh, director of the DeBruce Center, discusses some of the features planned for the "Rules Gallery" while standing next to the space where James Naismith's original rules of "Basket Ball" will be housed and on display for the public, during a walking tour of the facility on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

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James Naismith’s original rules of "Basket Ball” now have a home at Kansas University — right down to the nook they’ll rest in — but there’s a lot of finishing touches yet to complete.

That nook, for example, still has loose wires sticking out of it and is surrounded by unfinished wood.

The target opening date for the DeBruce Center, being constructed adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse, is now mid to late April.

The rules themselves will be the final finishing touch, going in only after every tile is laid and every speck of dust swept up, said DeBruce Center director Curtis Marsh.

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Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

A photo of the original rules of "Basket Ball," written by James Naismith and sold at auction Dec. 10, 2010. The rules sold for $4.34 million.

“The rules don’t get put into the case until every stitch of construction is in place,” Marsh said. “We are not messing around with those rules.”

KU alumnus David Booth and his wife, Suzanne Booth, purchased the 1891 document at auction in 2010 for $4.3 million — a sports memorabilia record, according to Sotheby’s in New York City.

The 32,000-square-foot DeBruce Center is being built to house the rules, but also as a union-style space that will be open to students and the public six days a week. KU Memorial Unions will run it.

The main entrance of the DeBruce Center, under construction adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse, pictured on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

The main entrance of the DeBruce Center, under construction adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse, pictured on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. by Nick Krug

“This facility has to serve a dual purpose,” said Marsh, a KU Memorial Union employee who also is the director of KU Info. “It is, of course, a shrine to the original rules of basketball. It is also a student center on campus.”

The building will be open to the public until 5 or 6 p.m. each day except Sunday. Marsh said it will be available to reserve for events and will probably be used for Williams Education Fund events during men's basketball games, although the portion of the building housing the rules — accessible through Allen Fieldhouse — should remain open to the public during games.

The Journal-World got a hard-hat tour of DeBruce last week.

Walls, ramps, stairs, kitchen areas and most railings are in place. Wall finishes, countertops, some flooring, a decorative metal wall, museum displays — and of course, the rules display — remain unfinished.

Construction continues within the DeBruce Center and around the "Rules Concourse," which will tell the story of basketball and lead to the "Rules Gallery," where the James Naismith's original rules of "Basket Ball" will be displayed. The building's interior is pictured Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

Construction continues within the DeBruce Center and around the "Rules Concourse," which will tell the story of basketball and lead to the "Rules Gallery," where the James Naismith's original rules of "Basket Ball" will be displayed. The building's interior is pictured Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. by Nick Krug

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Contributed image

Rendering of KU's DeBruce Center by Gould Evans Architecture.

The DeBruce Center has floor-to-ceiling glass walls and hardly any enclosed rooms or even levels. Here’s a list of areas inside the open-concept building:

• Main entrance: Located at the northeast end of the building, facing the Naismith Drive and Irving Hill Road intersection. Just inside will be a coffee bar. A life-size sculpture of Naismith by the late KU professor and bronze artist Elden Tefft will be located outside.

• The Rules Concourse: A gently sloping ramp leading from the main entrance to the rules. Thirteen 10-foot glass panels flanking the ramp will tell the story of “the origins of basketball and how that story has a lot to do with the University of Kansas,” Marsh said. Along the way, visitors will pass the Original Rules Store, a gift shop featuring rules and KU memorabilia and attire.

• The Rules Gallery: Future home of the rules, flanked by historical displays about Naismith and legendary KU basketball coach Phog Allen. One end of the gallery opens into Allen Fieldhouse and the other into the DeBruce Center.

No glass walls here, as the rules must be protected from excess light. The old papers are in a Smithsonian-grade protective case that regulates humidity, Marsh said. They’ll be displayed behind electrochromic glass that will remain opaque, protecting the document from light, until a viewer presses a button to illuminate the case.

• Mezzanine dining and lounge area: Open seating area on top level, overlooking main dining area below.

• Nutrition Kitchen: Also on the top level, a small dining area and cafeteria envisioned for KU athletics team meals and meetings.

• Courtside Cafe: On the lowest level. A cafeteria similar to the Market in the Kansas Union, with four different food stations featuring salads, wraps, rice bowls, crepes and a churrasco-style grill.

• Main dining and lounge area: Spans much of the main level, beneath soaring glass walls and open ramps to upper levels. Capacity is 200.

The $21.7 million DeBruce Center is entirely donor-funded, according to KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling. Seuferling said fundraising is ongoing, and KU Endowment is within $4 million of its $21.7 million fundraising goal.

The cost of the center has increased from the $18 million estimated when plans were first announced in 2013. The building is named for 1973 KU graduates Paul and Katherine DeBruce of Mission Hills, whose DeBruce Foundation contributed the lead gift for its construction.

The DeBruce Center is at the corner of KU’s Central District, expected to become a much busier part of campus over the next couple years as multiple new residential and academic buildings go up.

The Burge Union will close for good in mid-March, then be torn down and replaced with a new union featuring a large ballroom and other meeting spaces.

Marsh said KU Memorial Unions expects there to be enough demand for gathering spaces that both the new union and DeBruce will be well-used — and provide groups a choice between different atmospheres.

Comments

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope there are no more delays with the opening. We have a lot of people coming up to Lawrence for Graduation weekend, May 15th. It would be nice to have lunch over at the Court-side Cafe the Saturday before graduation.

With the opening of the Business School, expansion of the Engineering School and the Law School, this area will be a beehive of activity.

Tony Bandle 6 years, 2 months ago

As far as I know, as the only KU Architecture graduate that posts regularily to this site, i feel that I should provide some input. Based on the drawings, conceptual sketches and illustrations that I have seen, I have to say that this building could actually turn out to be a jewel in itself, much less the structure housing "The Rules"

By going with a glazed facade, the building "disappears" as you perceive the inner spaces and participants circulation. However, at night, the building will glow and provide a focal point for that whole end of campus. With the majority of glazing facing the northeast, any heat gains will be minimal.

I really think the whole experience will thrill all of you. This will not be just a building to house Dr. Naismith's historical documents; this will become the epicenter of the spirit of our great University.

If it was up to me, I would make every team that has to play in Allen, march through this facility first. Talk about a psych-out!!!!

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm always a bit nervous when modern architecture is connected to a more traditional style. It doesn't always work and sometimes it looks quite bad. But your description sounds like the glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre which in a strange way looks good.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 2 months ago

Great post, Tony. Makes me want to see it more than ever. It's a long drive from Tucson, but I will do it at some point.

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