Described as the last piece to the campus life puzzle at California State University, East Bay, the Recreation & Wellness Center was purposely located at the edge of the academic zone and across the street from student housing, effectively becoming a transitional space between the two. Providing what one judge called "a strong visual identity through the use of strong forms and bold color," the building's most recognizable exterior element is an aluminum perforated screen veil devised to minimize direct sunlight, diffuse daylight and maximize vistas to San Francisco Bay. This is both an aesthetic touch and symbolic of the building's (and campus's) broader mission of sustainability. The roof plane is shaped to funnel all rainwater to a series of bioswales, where a combination of native plants and climate-appropriate species absorb 100 percent of all storm water, avoiding city storm-drain systems. In addition, a ventilated trombe wall allows for passive heating of the gymnasium by capturing the sun's heat within the exposed western-facing concrete wall and glazing assembly, which then radiates into the gym during the night. In all, 70 percent of interior spaces are naturally ventilated and passively heated, which eliminates the need for active mechanical heating or cooling systems.
The various sustainable features of the building, one judge said, are "integrated in a very tasteful way," while another called such efforts "thoughtful" and "admirable." The design's "simple forms balance each other," another panelist noted, "reinforcing and maximizing a tight site."
The sustainability treatment of this facility separated it from the other projects judged by the panel. The collection and treatment of 100 percent of stormwater on-site combined with only 30 percent of the facility requiring artificial ventilation, heating and cooling is unique in recreation center design.
— Erik Kocher
The large, south-facing screen provides sun control while offering views to the wellness area and back out onto the campus, and gives the building a strong identity. The building utilizes very economical materials in a sophisticated manner.
— Tom Scarlata
The simple concept and minimized finishes created great value for the budget, while energy- and resource-saving measures were carefully integrated into the bold, colorful design. The building fits its site and the campus like a glove.
— Mark Bodien