Can architecture lead to better football? Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the NFL’s largest practice center (217,000 square feet) to give the Jets an edge. The perks of the Florham Park, New Jersey, facility, including a 12,000-square-foot weight room, already helped lure QB Brett Favre.

The building hugs the main field on three sides to simulate the feel of a stadium. The balcony lets coaches call plays from above. Opposing teams have tried to throw off Jets coaches at away games by putting their skybox at other locations rather than the 50-yard line. The long balcony helps coaches prepare for such tricks.

A 95-foot-high bunker covers the full-size indoor practice field. The catwalk near the ceiling offers a favorable vantage point for filming; coaches can call up plays from any practice (or game) from the building’s central video server.

Inspirational words and phrases are emblazoned on walls throughout the building, emphasizing teamwork and preparation. “The battle is won before it starts,” says lead architect Roger Duffy, quoting a line from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War that appears in one hallway.

Team members enter through a separate entrance, in order to minimize distractions, and immediately see the main practice field through the glass doors opposite. The airy hallway features light slots that mimic the yard lines on the field. The architects repeated this motif throughout the building’s halls and even the main entrance.

The main entrance evokes the tunnel that players pass through when running onto the field. It’s meant to impress free agents and sponsors. The cafeteria is the space to the left. “In the old facility, the cafeteria was basically a drape hanging from a pipe in the weight room,” says Thad Sheely, Jets EVP of stadium development and finance.

The workout area holds all the specialty weight-training equipment players could want, as well as old-school touches like a medicine-ball wall. The gym “isn’t about creating a beautiful body,” Duffy says, but getting players into “football shape.” Its amenities entice players to stay in New Jersey for off-season strength workouts, which coaches prefer.

Each player’s locker puts his name and number in lights, a small but effective gesture to make him feel special. Also appreciated is the ventilation in the back of each cubbyhole. Fresh air is pumped into the center of the room and then flushed through these perforations. “It’s more healthful because you’re pulling out all that dirty, moist air,” Duffy says. “It also smells better.”

NFL stars Peyton Manning and Kellen Winslow got staph infections in 2008, and teams live in fear of a player contracting one of the drug-resistant “superbug” strains. So the Jets built their medical center “like a mini-hospital,” Duffy says. Antimicrobial finishes—from paint to furniture to flooring—as well as hand-washing stations (right) are found throughout the site.

Executive offices look out over the indoor practice field to remind the suits of their shared mission. “This building,” says Jets EVP Sheely, “is the graduate school of football.”

Fast Company

Inside the New Jets Training Facility

The New York Jets designed their new training facility to create a brighter future for the franchise.

Can architecture lead to better football? Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the NFL’s largest practice center (217,000 square feet) to give the Jets an edge. The perks of the Florham Park, New Jersey, facility, including a 12,000-square-foot weight room, already helped lure QB Brett Favre.

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