Embodying its mission of “Active Learning, Active Life,” the Dixie State University Human Performance Center — completed in Fall 2019 — represents multi-faceted design accommodating academic, athletics and recreational space, while forging synergies between components to enhance the overall learning environment.
Dixie State University is a public institution of 11,000 students located in St. George, Utah, in the southwestern portion of the state, just one hour southwest of Zion National Park. Projecting a 75 percent increase in general enrollment and a 125 percent increase in enrollment at the school’s physical and occupational therapy program within the next 10 years, DSU leaders realized the strong demand for academic and recreational space.
The university sought to design additional human performance labs to replace inadequate ones while eliminating the need for athletics and academic programs to share space with recreational activities. The new facility features dual-use academic spaces, state-of-the-art laboratories and areas shared by human performance program faculty and students. The project squarely accommodates DSU’s projected growth in general enrollment, physical and occupational therapy programs.
Integrating design into the picturesque landscape was a central design goal. Unique design elements of the facility include an indoor-to-outdoor jogging track that connects to a “sprint hill” with a 40 percent incline that ascends to the perimeter of rooftop basketball courts. The rooftop offers spectacular 360-degree views of the encircling mountains.
Design transparency showcases activities from inside and outside and affords swimmers and climbers floor-to-ceiling transparency. The gym’s large mass appears to float over the 50-meter pool, providing occupants and passers-by with stunning nightly views of the center, a beacon framed by natural beauty and a landmark for DSU and the community of St. George.
“This is a very well-designed facility, where the energy inside is transmitted outside to enliven the street frontage. The use of interior color shows a talent for drama, without being overwhelming.” — Tracy Carusi
“This skillfully executed functional solution incorporates a long-span gym over a long-span natatorium and an innovative look at sport and recreation components.” — Katie Barnes