Sr. Associate, Senior Project Interior Designer
Jenna Mauer has cornered the market on big league practice facilities as an interior design architect.
Over the past decade, Mauer, senior associate at HOK and the firm’s senior project interior designer, has helped plan a half-dozen practice facilities in the NBA and NHL, many tied to medical clinics that hold naming rights to those venues with public access for healthcare issues.
Those building types have become more sophisticated and specialized as teams push to develop players with the equipment and technology they need to recover quicker from injuries and train more efficiently off the field of play.
As a result, practice facilities become a critical recruiting tool for teams wooing free agents and recruits. Culturally, those venues create a stronger bond among teammates with player lounges and kitchens providing healthy food and drink options as key pieces of programming.
“It’s definitely an arms race,” Mauer said. “Teams want to make them livable for the athletes. Our newest one opened for the Orlando Magic (in 2022), and there is probably somebody right behind them that says, ‘Ooh, they have an indoor incline ramp. We should have one and (build additional bells and whistles).’”
Mauer’s workload extends to the primary venues as well.
Her current projects extend to New York City FC’s new Major League Soccer stadium. The $780 million stadium, the most expensive MLS venue to date, anchors the Willets Point Revitalization Plan, a large mixed-use development that sits next to Citi Field.
“It’s a big monster, one of those hybrid deals where I‘ll be testing suite layouts,” Mauer said.
Mauer grew up in Topeka, Kansas, and caught the venue development bug from her parents. Her father was a home builder. Her mother was an interior designer/project manager. Jenna helped Dad paint houses in the summer.
“I started young,” Mauer said. “I’ve got a picture of myself in second grade at a career fair. My mom dressed me up, and ironically, I’m holding one of her interior boards.”
Mauer graduated from the University of Kansas and started with 360 Architecture in 2013, two years before the firm merged with HOK.
Mauer sees no end in sight for the upside in sports venue development, especially with renovations in the arena market, as teams reinvent premium spaces apart from the traditional suite model.
“It’s a constant challenge of how to get people to come to these facilities and we’re continually thinking through how to get them to engage in these spaces,” she said.