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Present Future Architects
By The Hand
Arco Murray


Chicago, IL


150,000 sq ft



North Austin Community Center

The North Austin Community Center (NACC) is a state-of-the art indoor sports facility that has transformed vacant land for an under-resourced community on the west side of Chicago. The facility is now reaching 25,000 children annually, creating 150 new permanent jobs, and anticipates providing $10 Million annual revenue to local businesses. 

As part of the Chicago Neighborhood’s Initiative, the NACC will provide opportunities for several community organizations in the North Austin neighborhood. By the Hand Club for Kids spearheads this coalition in partnership with Grace and Peace Church Revival Center. Donor-participants include the Chicago Fire Soccer team, Intentional Sports, and the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy. 

The 10-acre campus includes a building comprised of a 75,000 square foot Turf Field, a 45,000 square foot gymnasium/multi purpose building, and a 30,000 square foot community center with education and meeting spaces. The indoor Turf Field will be the only indoor FIFA regulation soccer field space in the City of Chicago. It is expected to have over 250,000 visitors annually. Neighborhood residents will have the opportunity to use the educational and mentorship programs provided at the new community center. It is projects like this that make being a structural engineer a valuable member of our community. 

Poor site/soil conditions were mitigated with rammed aggregate piers and shallow foundations, while the Turf Field and Gymnasium/Multipurpose structures were economically designed as precast shear walls with open web steel joists and joist girders. The long span joists at the turf field span 216 feet, while the community center is a steel moment frame to maximize programming flexibility within. The steel framed community center boasts a column-free conference space with an 80-foot truss spanning between 20-foot cantilevered trusses. The cantilevered conference room sits above public common space comprised of cascading concrete terraces and steps flanking the building’s main entrance. Similarly, a courtyard between the structures will provide exterior meeting spaces as well as outdoor athletic training. These spaces provide valuable and safe gathering spaces for the numerous community groups to utilize. The roof framing was carefully considered for approximately 300 solar panels as part of the many sustainable features of the project. The project has many structural highlights and represents great collaboration between the designers and community organizations vital to our city’s commitment to providing opportunity for the youth of our neighborhoods.

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