While there is still plenty of organizing and fundraising at hand, the future of the proposed International Women’s Baseball Museum in Rockford, Ill., is brighter with the announcement that award-winning architect Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang will design the facility.
The museum is the work of the International Women’s Baseball Center (IWBC) the Rockford organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and promoting all aspects of women’s baseball, both on and off the field. The proposed museum, tentatively set to be located across the street from Beyer Stadium, former home of the Rockford Peaches, would be a big step in promoting that vision.
And Jeanne Gang is a big get for the organization. A native of nearby Belvidere, the award-winning Gang graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1993 and worked with Rem Koolhaas before launching Studio Gang in 1997. Her work has ranged from notable Chicago skyscrapers, including the St. Regis–the third-tallest Chicago structure and the tallest superskycraper in the world designed by a woman–to the new United States Embassy in Brazil, an expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and a new international terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Notable local works include the Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theatre in Rockford and the riverfront Beloit College Powerhouse in Beloit, Wis.
These are major works, to be sure, and Gang is a major get:
“When we approached her about the project, she expressed an almost immediate and very genuine interest,” [said IWBC president Kat Williams]. “She loved the idea that first of all it’s going to be in Rockford, and secondly, this is an important thing that we’re doing for the local community and for the broader International Women’s Baseball community. She got that and understood how important that was.”
At the suggestion of Gang, the museum would be located on donated land on Seminary Street across the street from Beyer Stadium Park.
Beyer Stadium was home to the Rockford Peaches, with the ticket office still remaining. The Rockford Peaches, members of the All-American Girls Baseball League (1943-1955), was one of only two teams to participate in the AAGBL during the league’s entire history. The team today is best known as the center of A League of Their Own.
The $15-million project will combine both a history of the AAGBL and other notable achievements and be a working training facility for women baseball players, including a fieldhouse, clubhouse, batting cages and more. As noted, funding raising for the project is ongoing, with activity expected to ramp up in the spring.
Renderings courtesy International Women’s Baseball Center.