Recreation brings individuals together and builds communities around common interests. Rarely is that more evident among chosen Facilities of Merit® than it is with the 2018 class of 10 winning projects — which includes campus and community recreation centers, an aquatics center, a sports complex, an intramural building and two YMCAs. Even facilities housing intercollegiate athletics also make ample room for wellness enthusiasts.

Facilities of Merit winners were selected in July by a panel of seven architects at the conclusion of two days of deliberations at AB Media headquarters in Madison, Wis. Next month, the architects, consultants and facility owners behind each winning project will be honored at a reception at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

Thanks to all 62 entrants for helping ensure the program’s high level of competition, and congratulations to the 2018 Facilities of Merit. — The Editors

Penn State University Intramural Building, Phases 1&2


“Adding to the ‘dumb box’ a beautiful glass-fronted additional makes the whole complex new.” — Don Jones

The multiphased masterplan for the Penn State University Intramural Building was to position the building as an important hub for all major recreation and social activities on campus. The owner desired a dynamic and energizing atmosphere to reinforce the importance of active health and wellness programs at the university, and the university was very interested in impacting the behavior of students to drive health and wellness outcomes.

“Despite a complex, phased expansion, the architect has developed a unified exterior that fits with the campus architecture.” — Anita Moran

This responsive design of the exterior coupled with the client’s desire for a simple yet timeless and a sophisticated focus led to a consensus design story. The “criss-cross courtyard concept” involves one simple building-angle-formed gesture to the new campus gateway intersection with views of the Nittany Mountains, and one simple building-angle-formed gesture back toward the main campus, where they cross at the main entry courtyard and plaza to the facility. The slanted nature of the building forms allows the building to gracefully pull itself off the main street to provide engaging pedestrian-oriented plaza space, as well as establish clear wayfinding to the building entry, day or night. All other future-phase building facades continued this strategy, shifting and aligning planes with views and connections with surroundings.

The design solution has significantly grown the student recreation spaces and their capacity. The concept of fitness neighborhoods allows all types of individuals to feel comfortable challenging themselves physically. The building gives the students a memorable place where they often return, stay involved and engage in healthful activity.

“Excellent concept to surround the existing building with new construction. The result is the look of a completely new facility.” — Adam Bastjan

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