2011 Facility of Merit Winner: Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center, Rice University

Integrating more than 100,000 square feet of recreation space into the fabric of a college campus isn't always an easy task, but the designers of the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center managed it spectacularly, said AB's panel of judges. Beyond utilizing a façade of cast stone masonry detailing and the university's signature red brick, the designers achieved their goal by centering the building layout around an open courtyard with outdoor facilities, including a leisure pool, a 50-meter competition pool and two basketball courts. "With its complex set of programmatic elements, the design approach for this project successfully reduced the large volume into a series of elegant and well-detailed forms," offered one judge. Another called the facility "sensitively handled," noting the creative massing that breaks down the scale of large recreational components. A primary method was to locate large recreation spaces such as the gymnasium and MAC on the second floor, while the fitness center, fitness classrooms and offices occupy the smaller footprint below.

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