gould evans creates a permanent home for the original 13 rules of basketball

gould evans creates a permanent home for the original 13 rules of basketball


a hybrid of museum and student commons, the debruce center at the university of kansas, designed by gould evans, creates a permanent home for the historic two-page document on which, in 1891, james naismith outlined the original 13 ‘rules of basketball’ — today’s basketball rules span 153 pages and 45,576 words.

gould evans debruce center
between the exterior scrim and the building is a new ‘pocket park’ where students and basketball fans can gather
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing



gifted to the university of kansas, the rules document became a catalyst for a new $12 million, 32,000 sf facility. the debruce center needed to be more than just a game day attraction, however, as the university desired a building that would provide more student commons space to serve its campus throughout the academic year. gould evans responded with a design that weaves together the two distinct programs — an interpretive center built around the concept of the rules, and a student commons — allowing the story of basketball to unfold at multiple scales and to multiple audiences.

gould evans debruce centerAt dusk, the building is silhouetted against a front-illuminated metal scrim
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing



using the rules document as a point of departure, the architecture focuses on the creation of an immersive experience to tell the story of the university’s role in the development of the game. the debruce center’s program is arranged along a linear pathway that winds through the open interior, connecting the story of the rules and all of the building’s programs — including a 200-seat dining commons for students and visitors, nutrition center for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, coffee shop, museum store and exhibits.

gould evans debruce center
basketball exhibits and commons spaces are arranged along a wandering path
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing



the building consists of two main volumes: a three-story transparent prism within which exhibit and path are delicately suspended, and a single-story bridge connecting the building to the historic allen fieldhouse arena where james naismith perfected the game. within this bridge, the original 451-word document is enshrined by a perforated scrim containing the more than 45,000 words that make up the contemporary rules of the game, offering visitors a way to physically experience basketball’s evolution over 125 years.

a continuous aluminum ramp winds its way through the soaring interior
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing



a refined material palette of structural glass and honed black concrete highlights pedestrian movement within a transparent and overlapping building program. aluminum provides a substrate for marrying architecture and museum content — a continuous aluminum ramp weaves the exhibition together while perforated aluminum scrim walls wrapping the space where the rules document is housed pay homage to its author and other significant figures in the history of the sport.

exhibits exploring the history of basketball are integrated with the architecture
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing

a palette of structural glass, aluminum and honed black concrete highlights pedestrian movement
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing

the rules document is centered between the existing athletic fieldhouse and the new student dining commons
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing

excerpts from the contemporary rules of basketball are engraved in the aluminum plate
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing

the building form extends toward the campus core
image © steve hall, hedrich blessing

section and elevation vignette of the bridge
image © gould evans


floor plans © gould evans



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: peter corboy | designboom

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