James G. Rogers sits down to discuss his latest project, Chelsea Piers Connecticut.
When your goal is to build the most impressive sports complex in America, you need to bring in top talent, which is why Roland W. Betts made an early phone call to his former classmate at Yale, James G. Rogers of Darien. Betts is the founder and chairman of Chelsea Piers L.P. and one of the principals behind the development of the 400,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art sports emporium in Stamford slated to open in July. Rogers is the architect who worked with Betts on Chelsea Piers New York. “I’m a big fan of Jimmy’s work,” says Betts, who contends his old friend has created a sports venue like no other here in Fairfield County.
“There’s transparency in the design, plus color, action and noise. It’s a fantastic space that will hook visitors within the first fifteen feet of the entrance.” Rogers—who was a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett Architects before opening his own firm in South Norwalk—certainly had his work cut out for him. He was tasked with transforming the old Clairol warehouse into a university-quality sports facility featuring two National Hockey League-size ice-skating rinks, squash courts, an Olympic-size pool and a 15,000-square-foot gymnastics center. Rogers also designed a brand-new second floor for the single-story building, where there are courts for tennis, basketball and volleyball, plus massive turf fields for soccer and football. Chelsea Piers Connecticut will offer up to twenty-six sports, all in one building. “No other complex collapses so many sports into a single space as this one does,” says Rogers.
This architect is no stranger to designing for the sports set. Among his recent renovation projects in this area are the New Canaan YMCA, Darien YMCA and SoNo Field House. And architectural talent seems to be in his blood: Rogers is the grandson of James Gamble Rogers, a driving force among Beaux Arts architects in the 1920s. He’s best known for his academic commissions at Columbia, Northwestern and Yale, where he designed the Sterling Memorial Library and the Memorial Quadrangle. Says Rogers, “My grandfather was the formative influence on my career.”