Springfield, Massachusets has a storied history; it has played a pivotal role in the country’s history as a former industrial powerhouse and nexus of myriad social movements. But for basketball fans, the city is synonymous with one site alone, the hallowed grounds of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Now, after four years of work, hoops enthusiasts can revel in the recently completed extensive renovation of the museum.
Boston-based architecture and design firm CambridgeSeven Associates led the renovation with a team of contractors and vendors largely hailing from Massachusetts and northern Connecticut—85 percent of the approximately $25 million budget was spent locally.
The project is largely an interior retrofit of the museum originally designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates and CambridgeSeven in 2002 and is named after hometown hero and inventor of basketball James Naismith. The design effectively transforms the existing retail and lobby areas—the first and second floors, as well as the mezzanine—into a new curatorial and entrance space, dubbed the Tip-Off Pavilion, for the museum’s 225,000 annual visitors.
“I want to express what a thrill it was to partner with the Basketball Hall of Fame team on the inspirational re-imagining of the museum,” said CambridgeSeven principal Timothy Mansfield at the ribbon-cutting. “Our team and the Hall have enjoyed a long-standing partnership from the design of the original museum to this latest evolution, creating an immersive and highly interactive visitor experience. The new Hall celebrates the amazing game of basketball, uniquely tying thematic narratives from the game’s very beginnings in Springfield in 1891 all the way to the present-day action.”
There are a host of new technologically advanced experiences, such as the interactive kiosks of the Hall of Honor exhibition that contain over a day’s worth of video content; the 1891 Gallery Presented by MassMutual Foundation that walks visitors through the origins of the game; the Players Gallery, a step-by-step video walkthrough of players’ signature moves, and the Jerry Colangelo Court of Dreams, an area for visitors to shoot baskets while a LED screen runs highlights of basketball history. Visitors can also pop into the newly updated and state-of-the-art Nike Theater.
CambridgeSeven is no novice when it comes to designing sports museums, with projects ranging from the new home of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore to the Detroit Red Wings & Detroit Pistons Heritage Exhibits, amongst many others, they have certainly established themselves as a regular in the field.