In January 2017, the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees approved a development plan to design and build a 100,000-square-foot recreation center on 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 design aimed to activate campus social life, create a home for commuter students, as well as engage students in the type of on-campus fitness and wellness programming not otherwise prevalent on the southern rural campus. 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. 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.
Enrollment increased by 6 percent the semester after the facility opened, with record first-time freshman enrollment. Quarterly visits to the rec center have essentially doubled, and monthly visits have increased dramatically. Most important, a majority of the student population now engages in fitness and wellness activities as part of their daily routine, which leads to long-term healthful habits.