University of Connecticut Student Rec Center Storrs, CT

Project Category : College/University

Total Construction Cost : $97,000,000

Total Gross Square Feet : 212,575

Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $456

How was the facility funded? : Student fees

Project Description:

Site Design

Key components of the site design included the preservation of trees, planting of native species and balancing of impervious surfaces with green space. Plantings and materials were equally considered along all edges of the building and strategies were employed to strengthen pedestrian connections and outdoor gathering spaces. Along Hillside Ave., landscape and building elements were artistically blended to create an inviting and unique transit stop.

External Presence

The predominantly two-story facade along Hillside Road is anchored by a three-story tower that rises in the northwest corner at the intersection of Jim Calhoun Way.

Levels 3 and 4 of the Hillside tower strategically conceals mechanical units. Internally outfitted with programmable LED light system, the tower has become its own unique programmatic feature. Known on campus The Cube, students have begun to request unique lighting schemes to reflect a range of events and remembrances. From marking Chinese New Year, to celebrating a UConn athletic victory or marking the anniversary of 9/11, the Cube has become a dynamic expression of UConns spirit.

The composition of the south-facing facade on the Whitney Road corridor steps up from the lower roof of the fitness program along Hillside Road to the higher roof of the four-court gym on the east. Further along this facade, openings provide filtered daylight into the natatorium. On the upper level, a continuous band of glazing brings natural light into the 4-court gym and provide stunning views of the campus from the elevated track.

The east facade is composed to reduce the buildings mass as it steps down to the Whetten Graduate Center and the Dodd Research Center. This gesture relates to the scale of nearby buildings and supports access to daylight for these programs. The outdoor program garage and service areas are accessed here. The translucent panel system is utilized to provide natural light to the outdoor program and service areas while generating visual interest on the facade. To create more texture and articulation, the second floor/main mechanical room is ventilated with louvers created from the fiber cementitious panel system.

Functional Planning

UConns Rec professionals see the facility as a strategic tool in a broader program around student health and wellness. To combat loneliness and isolation and to support the goals of academic success and student retention, it was critical that the Rec Center be designed as an active and welcoming place where students could engage with their community and have a sense of belonging.

From the buildings two main entry points, visitors are welcomed into a multi-level space that offers immediate access to Rec Center Admin, the main control desk, lounge area, and grab and go food options. Material and furniture selection, open floor plan, transparency and subtle graphics contribute to a dynamic space that is uplifting but not overwhelming. Bridges, stairs and open walkways connect program spaces on the upper levels. Daylight streams in from the glazed perimeter and clerestory skylight. Starting in the lobby and continuing throughout the facility, the building tells a story about connection and engagement. Program areas were strategically interlaced in order to create visual connections and subtle pattern of wayfinding.

Programmatically, the facility comprehensively supports Fitness and Wellness, Club Sports, Intramural Sports, UConn Outdoors and Special Events. The building interlaces 4 fitness zones with different spatial qualities and equipment; aquatics center with lap and recreational pool; 1/6 mile indoor track; 5 unique fitness studios; climbing center; outdoor adventure center; 4-court gymnasium; MAC court; racquetball courts; and both gender specific and gender neutral locker rooms.Carefully planned back of house spaces and circulation means that operational activities are secluded and invisible to members.

Interior Design and Technology

The buildings interior finishes were selected to be durable, easily maintained, and appropriate to their use. The UConn color scheme of blue, gray and white is utilized throughout; a selective program of branding, way-finding and environmental graphics - distinctly separate from UConn Athletics - has been integrated. Technology has been deployed in the Center to collection information on member usage. It is anticipated that analysis of patterns will enable Rec Center staff to understanding trends in facility utilization and allow them to make strategic programmatic or operational adjustments.

Floor Plans