Field House

Field House

Field House

What You'll Find Here

  • Badminton courts
  • Basketball/volleyball courts
  • Health and Human Physiology Department
  • Jogging track
  • Racquetball courts
  • Recreational Services Department
  • Sauna
  • Squash courts
  • Swimming pool
  • Table tennis
  • Weight training facilities
  • Classrooms and faculty offices


225 South Grand Avenue
Formal Name: 
Field House
Proudfoot, Rawson and Souers, Des Moines, Iowa

The Field House has served more functions than nearly any other structure on campus. During the Depression years, it provided cheap accommodations for nearly 100 students who paid $1 per week to rent a cot and locker on the third floor. Built to incorporate a preexisting armory (1922) at the west end, it functioned as a barracks for the Navy Pre-Flight Training Program during World War II. Its real business, however, has always been sports; it was the home of Hawkeye basketball until 1982, a history that spanned fifty-six seasons. Today it hosts intercollegiate, intramural, and recreational activities, teams, and events.
The original floor of the Field House was dirt, which made it ideal for track and field events. The building included what was then the largest indoor collegiate swimming pool in the United States, which was meant to double as a reservoir for fire fighting. The interior also contained spaces for every indoor sport or activity offered by the Uni- versity. On the exterior and in keeping with its neighbors—Hillcrest and Quadrangle Halls—Collegiate Gothic was used to enhance what was otherwise a rather utilitarian façade. Three sets of limestone- tipped spur buttresses project above the massive brick façade and mark the entrance-stair towers for approaching visitors. Arched win- dows over the portals and at the clerestory above admit generous light to the interior but also give the basilica-like building a Roman gravitas. Ornamental touches—including heraldic shields—are apparent in the archival photograph. Since the addition of a Modernist adminis- trative wing against the east façade in 1955, these features are mostly obscured. The Armory was demolished in 1989 to make way for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ John Pappajohn Pavilion, but the great steel arch on the rear façade of the Field House still reveals the point at which the two structures were once joined. A second remnant was also retained: a large hawk in flight that once hovered over the original competition basketball court.


The building is accessible to persons with disabilities, however wheelchair access routes to some areas of the building may be confusing. Accessible dressing rooms and showers for each sex are located on the lower level of the north wing. They are reached via a ramp from the northeast entrance lobby. Swimming pool users may access the pool directly from the dressing rooms via a tunnel. For route information and information regarding specialized equipment and services for those with disabilities, call Recreational Services at (319) 335-9293.

The main entrance is located on the east side of the building between the main building and the south gym (a raised portion of the building with parking underneath) and includes a power door opener. There are two secondary entrances which are accessible to people with disabilities. One is located on the west side of the building adjacent to UIHC which provides direct access to the main floor and includes a power door opener. The other is located on the east side of the building near the north end and includes a power door opener.
Accessible parking is located adjacent to the southeast main entrance. Additional nearby accessible parking is located under the south gym and in Hospital Ramp #4.
All restrooms in the building are accessible to persons with disabilities.
The elevator located inside the main entrance lobby provides access to the main floor. The elevator located inside the northeast entrance lobby provides access to all floors except for the S500 series of recreational activity rooms in the south portion of the main building. To reach these rooms take the northeast elevator to the 400 (track) level and cross to the south portion of the building. A wheelchair lift which provides access to the S500 area is located near the restrooms.