Ellerbe Becket—working in collaboration with Martin/Martin as the structural engineers—designs Missouri State University’s JQH Arena, named in honor of Missouri State alumnus and Springfield hotel developer, John Q. Hammons. Designed to enhance the fan experience, this multi-use facility is new home for the MSU Bears and Lady Bears, as well as regional event center for concerts and family shows.

Completed in October, the Ellerbe Becket-designed arena features a grand entrance, more than 11,000 seats (55 courtside), 26 suites, a 4,500-square-foot club, a Hall of Fame, a team store and other amenities for fans. A flexible seating bowl design provides 1,300 retractable seats that allow for concerts and other special events.

"One of my goals is to find ways that give our students and faculty the level of facilities they deserve," said MSU President Michael Nietzel. "The arena will serve the university and the people of southwest Missouri proudly for years to come."

Working collaboratively with university staff, Ellerbe Becket finished the $67 million JQH Arena on time and more than $1 million under budget. As a result, the University was able to authorize the purchase of additional furniture and equipment, landscaping and the design for a shelled space that will eventually serve as home team locker rooms and offices for the two basketball teams and athletics administrators when private funding becomes available.

"The concept for the building design was to balance an exterior skin of translucent glass with textured pre-cast concrete that recalls the geologic formations of the neighboring Ozarks, creating a building that is unique to this place in the world and unlike any comparable facility," said James Poulson, AIA, who served as design director on the project. "The extensive glazing allows an abundance of daylight into concourses and seating areas and the building glows after dark—providing a new ’beacon’ for this end of the campus. Super-size graphics of the MSU Bear mascot are adhered to the glass to foster school spirit and pride."

The seating bowl is very intimate and a steep pitch of the seats provides an intimidating home court advantage. Acknowledging the key role students played in the design process, the facility includes dedicated student seating at one end of the court that also includes accommodations for the pep band. These seats are accessed via a student-only section of the concourse, providing a new student ’neighborhood’ within the arena.

Ellerbe Becket served as the project’s architect, working in collaboration with Springfield-based architect Pellham Phillips, Martin/Martin (structural engineers), Ross & Barruzzini (mechanical and electrical engineers), and Scott Engineers (civil engineers). JE Dunn Construction served as construction manager agent for the university.