University of Alabama Student Recreation Center Renovation and Addition

Tuscaloosa, AL
Construction Cost: $18.01 million
Area / Square Feet: 183,675
Occupancy Date: July 2004

The University of Alabama Recreation Center is organized around a skylit concourse that unifies the existing and new components of the complex. A new front entrance was created to increase the facility’s visibility on campus and appropriately relate to site elements. A two-story lobby greets patrons, and the reception counter provides friendly supervision and control. From the concourse, all major recreational programs can be accessed.

The goal was to create an image of sophistication without sacrificing a sense of playfulness. Materials, colors and textures were selected to achieve this balance. The porcelain-tile floor pattern, for example, gives the concourse a sense of strength and timelessness, but the space is accented with elements of whimsy expressed by colorful fabric banners and custom tile surrounding the main columns. Natural light extends deep into the complex via the translucent concourse skylight and the glass curtainwall in the lobby.

A predominant architectural expression on the Tuscaloosa campus is the use of columns to define entry. The facility’s new colonnaded entrance thus relates to an important campus vocabulary. The glass-walled lobby glows at night, inviting people to enjoy the amenities within and provides a panoramic view of the adjacent intramural playing fields. Precast concrete and brick blend with the existing exterior materials to create a unified expression.