Project Category : College/University
Total Construction Cost : 33,000,000
Total Gross Square Feet : 105,000
Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $314.29
How was the facility funded? : Public Private Partnership
In January 2017, the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees approved a development plan to design and build a 103,000 sq. ft. recreation center with an aggressive timeline. By utilizing an integrated Construction Manager at Risk project delivery method, the project opened within 24 months and came in under budget.
Construction of JSU's Recreation and Fitness Center was in direct response to JSU's mission to enhance the quality of campus life and to increase student retention and enrollment which had been holding steady. Specifically, the facility was to activate campus social life, create a home for commuter students as well as engage students in on-campus fitness and wellness programming which is not as prevalent in the southern rural campus.
The facility opened January 2019 and enrollment increased the next Fall Semester by 6%. First time freshman enrollment in Fall 2019 is the highest to date. Since opening, quarterly visits to the rec center have essentially doubled and monthly visits increased dramatically. Most importantly, a majority of the student population now engages in fitness and wellness activities as part of their daily routine; which leads to long term healthy habits.
1) Functional Planning
Plan efficiency; functional relationships of key facility components; location of control points; measures taken to maximize use of space. Facility function was customized for JSU's specific goals. Flexible and multipurpose social and event space was a requirement that is evidenced throughout the design. This hybrid facility was to be an amenity for the entire campus.
The main entry lobby leads into more of social space, which combines the Starbucks, study nooks, group seating and gaming into a varied and flexible student-focused space. A multipurpose studio, typically located more remotely, was centrally located with operable glass walls to also allow the room to alternate between a fitness space and extension of the social core.
The MAC court features a large drop-down screen, overhead projector and Bluetooth sound system designed for campus and rentable events and presentations. A separate controlled entry for this space was designed so that this space could be programmed and operated separately than the rest of the facility.
2) Interior Design
Innovative use of materials to achieve desired aesthetics; interior finishes, detailing and color schemes used; use of natural and artificial lighting; building materials used.
Upon entering, guests find themselves in a lobby/social area with full views to the climbing wall, high energy studio and jogging track overhead. The two-story portion reveals the dramatic winged ceiling treatment of the second level and is open to the sounds and sites of the surrounding fitness venues. The building’s lobby divides into two wings, which lift to reveal active interior spaces, such as the fitness area, multipurpose rooms and track. Open corners allow views of the surrounding Appalachian foothills.
At over 43, the tallest hybrid climbing and bouldering wall in Alabama at a student recreation facility is the dominant presence in the building entrance. The hybrid climbing area is comprised of bouldering and climbing walls.
Integrated custom graphics were designed to enhance the building interior. The unique basketball court stain design, custom JSU Gamecock graphics, and a map of the surrounding wilderness add depth and excitement while strengthening the JSU brand.
3) Exterior Design
Integration of the design with surrounding area or buildings; exterior finishes, images and color schemes used; innovative solutions to massing problems.
To align with the campus master plan, the architectural design needed to create a contemporary wow factor while also blending with existing traditional vernacular context. The building is expressed through a prominent peak emphasizing the climbing wall that aligns with a major pedestrian path from central campus connecting the new building to the rest of the campus. The scale, materiality and rhythm of masonry resonate with the existing campus character. Brick patterns, reveals and pre-cast elements pick up on the contextual details of the campus. The roofs metal coping references traditional slate tiles are consistent across JSU.
The winged sloped roof element was a big and simple organizing gesture; steep slope to highlight the climbing wall and the other slope to open facility up to the surrounding Appalachian foothills as well as the image as a gateway facility to streetscape. The large north oriented glass face not only provides a vibrant backdrop to the campus but also allows for abundant natural glare free lighting.
Relationship of building to site; site constraints or other problems encountered. At just over 100,000 sq. ft., this facility would be the largest building footprint on campus. Addressing key issues of scale was to be an important consideration. Additionally, the available site, which offered great street campus gateway presence, did not offer a clean site development footprint.
The site solution starts with a large open outdoor landscaped plaza for students to gather; designed as an extension of the interior social space. The curved seating element draws patrons to the main entry. This curved landscape element connects and continues into the building form - linking building and site visually.
Key facility program elements were then placed where they would best be connected to adjacent landscape, views and natural light. Large spaces to the north, outdoor pool to the south, separate event MAC entry to the east.
Cost of construction for value received; funding or cost-saving measures utilized; innovative capital and operations financing and funding strategies; energy-conservation measures used.
Utilizing the project delivery method of Construction Manager at Risk, this was the first of its project type in Alabama. In addition, this is the second collegiate student recreation facility in the country ever built under a public-private partnership (P3) structure. Total construction cost was $30 M at just under $300/sq. ft. Furthermore, the project includes $2.5 M of additional amenities of an outdoor pool with a bath house, social patios, emergency generator and a water feature.
Key sustainable and energy conservation features include early schematic design energy modeling was utilized to maximize thermal efficiency and glare control. The pool dehumidification unit is provided with heat recovery to use wasted heat for pool water heating. Condensing boilers provide a high efficiency heating hot water system. LED lighting was used throughout which reduced lighting power density from code minimum 6% reduction. Large solar tube skylights were utilized on larger assembly basketball courts to maximize natural light and reduce artificial lighting loads.