Architecture practice Olson Kundig has completed the LeBron James Innovation Center at the Nike World Headquarters in the US city of Beavertown, Oregon. The new 65,000 m² building, named after iconic basketball player and longtime Nike collaborator LeBron James, unites more than 700 innovation-focused Nike staff – from biomechanics researchers and robotics experts to computational designers – in one space in order to foster cross-pollination and collaboration.
The centre provides a hub for research and development, including the Nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL) at the top of the building, which cantilevers above the main entrance, featuring a mega truss structure and waffle slab base that nods to the waffle pattern of early Nike shoes.
The NSRL, kitted out with the world’s largest motion-capture installation, environmental chambers and body-mapping equipment, also features a full-sized basketball court and partial football pitch, and connects to a striking inclined running track on the building exterior. Upon entering the building, staff and visitors encounter an open, four-story central atrium space which is designed to enable collaboration and spontaneous interaction.
“In a way this project is like the culmination of a career spent pursuing authenticity – in architecture, in systems, in materials,” says Tom Kundig, project lead and principal of Olson Kundig. “I’ve always felt the basis of architecture is function-driven with a poetic finish. The physicality and athleticism you see in this building is something I’ve been exploring throughout my career at a variety of scales.”