The renovation of an existing recreation facility on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus required a design solution that responds to site constraints and access limitations. Access to the existing building had previously been achieved underground via interior corridors connecting the facility to the adjacent student union and residence halls. The design challenge, then, was to locate the required square footage of new recreation space as sensitively as possible with respect to the existing public outdoor spaces while establishing a new entry control point that would sit one floor higher, yet remain connected to the existing lower-level entry points.
The most viable solution was to build two new floors above the existing pool. The pool’s foundation walls helped locate the new structure’s control desk, multipurpose rooms and lounge on the entry level. A diagonal glass wall at the entry extends to the existing structure, directing traffic toward stairs that access newly renovated locker rooms. New lounge space affords views through the glass and into the courtyard.
A new fitness floor is located at the top of a monumental stair. The footprint from the entry level below was not large enough to accommodate the required fitness square footage. Therefore, the second floor cantilevers out in three directions over the first floor, creating a “floating box.” Clad in glass and metal panels, this fitness space serves as its own advertisement, visible from anywhere in the quad. Conversely, students using the new fitness equipment enjoy sweeping views of the busy public outdoor spaces below.