The project challenge was to design a new campus recreation and wellness enter for a university campus that emphasizes physical fitness as an ongoing “Lifestyle” where people “Play” for health and wellness and “Play” for vitality of life.

Early established steering committee word association goals wanted a building project that is welcoming, open, highly transparent, understandable, supportive, exciting, motivating, visible in and out, maximizes daylight, sustainable, and is simply stated “Wow!”

Sited on the southeastern edge of campus within a single city block, the new recreation and wellness center is centrally located between university living communities and in walking distance of the academic core. With views experienced outward from the building towards the adjacent river bluffs, a university park and main library directly to the north, partial elevated views of the state’s old capitol to the north east, and a continuing dense urban downtown development to the east, the center will be a pivotal building as the campus expands to the south and transitions into an urban collegiate building experience.

The architecture of the new campus recreation and wellness center responds to the newly created urban site conditions, immediate campus context of masonry additive forms and aggregate building masses, sustainable and environmental considerations, and to be outwardly expressive of the mission of student and recreation services.

Taking advantage of north daylight, the north portion of the building comprises of a series of transparent interlocking “boxes” set on a fin-like columnar structural system. The transparency allows views to and from recreation activities throughout the day time and produce glowing activity in the evening. The north facade creates a dialogue with the university park and main library to the north that allows the campus to extend and be received visually across a major arterial highway. The third level “box” cantilevers east above the main entry providing a celebration of entry and an expression of fitness activity towards the east.

The transparent “boxes” are set in front of a masonry mass backdrop consisting of the west and center portions of the building. These portions which are three levels in height house the athletic swimming natatorium and the multi-activity spaces. The masonry mass acts as a building buffer, both in scale and in program, to the adjacent railroad track and power plant activities. The jog/walk track at the third level projects outward to the south for expanded views.

The east portion of the building minimally sets back allowing for a linear green space along the building edge. Only two levels in height, the wellness suite and recreation administrative offices are located in this portion which allows “free” traffic flow to and from the member control point. This façade is transparent and provides a dynamic architecture full of detail and light and shadow reducing to a pedestrian scaled environment along the street. Internally the recreation pool and climbing wall located in the center of activity and circulation pathways, both horizontal and vertical, provides continual activity of movement and excitement while adding points of reference to where you are in the large building.