Nike Unveils LeBron James Innovation Center in Oregon

A design as bold as its namesake

LeBron James Innovation Center
The LeBron James Innovation Center at Nike World HQ.

The name of Nike’s new LeBron James Innovation Center set a high bar for the designers and thinkers tasked with making it a reality. You can’t fall back on tired architectural tropes when “innovation” is right there in the name, after all. But the design of the new space, from architects Olson Kundig, pulls off the impressive feat of looking both high-tech and organic. It’s a visually striking structure that also blends in with the Oregon landscape around it.

As Jenna McKnight pointed out in an article in Dezeen, the unique approach to the building’s exterior goes a long way towards making it eye-catching. Steel mesh and sheet metal combine to add a sense of texture to the overall structure.

Olson Kundig also looked to Nike’s own history when creating the space. The building is home to the Nike Sport Research Lab, the base of which feature a waffle-esque pattern inspired by the look and feel of Nike’s classic sneakers. All told, 700 Nike employees will work out of the new building.

“I’ve always felt the basis of architecture is function-driven with a poetic finish,” said Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA. “The physicality and athleticism you see in this building is something I’ve been exploring throughout my career at a variety of scales.”

The bold design isn’t all this new building has going for it. It’s also been certified LEED-NC v2009 Platinum — making its connection with the environment around it that much deeper.

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