Richard and Norma Small Athletic and Wellness Center

Mt. Vernon, Iowa
Construction Cost: $17.5 million
Area / Square Feet: 44,625 (renovation), 21,689 (addition)
Occupancy Date: October 2022

With a mission to better serve its students’ health and wellness needs, Cornell College engaged architects to design an updated home for their athletic and wellness programs. College leadership immediately understood this renovation and expansion project would directly support Cornell’s ability to recruit new students, enhance Rams athletics programs, secure competitive events, and provide a positive impact on every student and student-athlete — now and for future generations. 

The design concept of the Richard and Norma Small Athletic & Wellness Center brings modern and unique athletics and recreation programming to Cornell College, while providing a balance of new construction and cost-saving renovation. The new addition, which houses the entry lobby, the health and wellness center, athletic offices and athletic training, is specifically located to take advantage of as much of the existing building as possible. This initial planning move not only saves construction dollars, but also provides a finished facility in which many spaces are visually open to each other. The openness and transparency showcase the vibrancy of the facility to everyone who enters and is an experience vastly different than the existing building. 

Located just off the new entry, a two-level Health and Wellness Center creates a vibrant hub for campus life and fosters a sense of community. The renovation/ addition includes an expanded lobby that functions as a gathering space before and after events held in the renovated gymnasium, and as a vibrant student lounge on all non-event days. In addition, the design provides Cornell with ample team meeting space, group exercise studios, a full athletic office suite and a new athletic training suite.

Architect of Record

Kahler Slater

Milwaukee, Wis.


Locker/Shower - LockersHadrian Inc.
Locker/Shower - LockersIdeal Products
Fitness Center - Flooring, AerobicsREGUPOL
Fitness Center - Flooring, AerobicsRobbins Sport Surfaces
Fitness Center - Flooring, AerobicsSporturf