‘Rounds’: A Wavy Outdoor Pavilion in Illinois by Sports

“Rounds” is a conspicuous, wavy outdoor pavilion designed by Sports (a multidisciplinary architecture and design collaborative) inspired by Howard Van Doren Shaw’s ragdale ring. In 1912, American architect Howard Van Doren Shaw designed an open-air, garden theater for the work of his playwright wife, Frances Shaw. This theater is what became known as the Ragdale Ring.

This contemporary iteration of the original 1912 creation seeks to “architecturalise” and reinvision the ring as a “whimsical and inhabitable performance surface.”  It considers the way in which one engages the space of performance and intends to allow the ring itself to become integral to that experience, while also producing an atmosphere of discovery and fun for visitors.

Here’s a general description of the design from the architects, Rounds encourages a multiplicity of performance types, performer to audience relationships, stage arrangements, and seating options, generating a versatile outdoor venue and a fully encompassing experience.  Acting as a piece of architecturally-scaled garden furniture, our project compliments the (beautiful) existing landscape and natural prairie setting and can be enjoyed by both visitors on special occasions as well regularly by artists in the residency program as they reflect and nurture their creative efforts.

This project was made possible with the generous support by Adrian Smith, Ragdale FoundationSyracuse University School of Architecture, Stuc-O-FlexW.E. O’Neil, OWL Hardwood, and Terry Dowd Inc.


Here’s a description of the structure as seen on contemporist,

The undulating structure took 3 weeks to build and is constructed from 48 gridded structural wedges made of 3/4”plywood. After the pieces were connected, it was covered in bendable plywood and finished with an elastomeric stucco. Mint green was used for the finish to provide a seamless and low contrasting appearance with the surrounding park.


  • Design Team: SPORTS
  • Build Team: Greg Corso, Molly Hunker, Jordan Nelson, Nick Zukauskas, Kevin Lenhart, Preston Welker, Sean Morgan, Dabota Wilcox, Jon Anthony, Monika England, Kokeith Perry, Sarah Beadoin
  • Engineering Consultants: Arup
  • Landscape Architect: Rosborough Partners
  • Fabrication Consultants: Knowhow Shop
  • Photography: Nick Zukauskas.
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