A break from the books...

28 Feb 2010

New Addition transforms Recreation Center for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

The University’s existing recreation center was completed in the late 90’s. Due to student population growth and a growing view among educators that recreation is a vital part of student success, the University’s need now exceeds the existing building’s capacity. Equally important, the existing building is introverted and cellular, and fails to fulfill the University’s larger mission to encourage student health or 'wellness' in combination with maximised opportunities for social interaction. This is seen as crucial for intellectual success, therefore the recreation building is equal in importance to the Library or a Student Center. The available site for new construction is tight. The addition of new program offers the opportunity to create an organisational strategy that wraps the existing building with new construction. The resulting new 'z' shaped structure will contain a rich unfolding of space. The clear porous circulation connects the north entry to the pool courtyard at the rear transforming the formerly claustrophobic structure in to one that connects and celebrates a variety of simultaneous activity with diagonal views knitting activities together as one proceeds through the project.

The 166,000 sq ft project is comprised of 40,000 sq ft of existing area to be refurbished, 26,000 sq ft of existing area to be substantially renovated or reconfigured, and 100,275 sq ft of new construction. Approximately 30,000 sq ft of the existing building will be demolished. Existing locker rooms will be completely remodeled and remaining fitness area will be converted into enclosed Fitness Studios. The existing Gymnasium, which also functions as a major campus events space, will remain. New facilities to be constructed are a two court gymnasium, a one court MAC, racquetball courts, approximately 20,000 sf of open exercise area, and staff and administration offices. A second level running track weaves through the two court gym, the exercise area and the lobby. A variety of spaces for conversation, people watching, hanging out and meeting are placed at key locations. A balance between the segregation of activities to promote focus and discipline, and the shared synergy of the combined energy of adjacent activity will guarantee the building promotes social engagement and student health.

California State University San Luis Obispo is nestled in a large topographic hollow created by the rolling coastal mountains of Central California which ring its perimeter. The tempering influence of the Pacific Ocean insures a mild climate. The north edge of the site terminates an important cross campus pedestrian connection along an internal ring road that is to be redesigned as a pedestrian route. The south edge defines the campus edge across the street from single family residences. Important pedestrian routes along the east and west edges connect peripheral pedestrian movement to the campus core.

The project is designed at minimum to receive LEED Silver certification. The massing strategy provides large expanses of shaded glazing that allow glare-free natural light to minimise the need for artificial lighting. The mixed mode air handling system is designed to take advantage of San Luis Obispo’s temperate and dry climate. This system operates most efficiently with 100% outside air, an option most of the year. Natural ventilation will be used when practical, as in Fitness Studios. The university encouraged the creation of a new and dynamic architectural presence. Curved metal roofs hover over an interior landscape of activity and their silhouette echoes that of the surrounding central California topography. Construction began in January 2010 with opening day to occur in September 2011.

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