Prominently sited along the university's main thoroughfare, this recreation center project centers on a public concourse that extends through the building and reaches out to the east in the form of a new landscaped quadrangle, thus creating a link between campus athletic and academic facilities. Inclusion of the new quadrangle reflects the university's commitment to a pedestrian-friendly campus and speaks to a perceived paucity of high-quality outdoor space offering opportunities for relaxation, informal recreation and socializing.

The new building offers plenty of such space indoors, but the judges said that what is particularly striking is the way such spaces are integrated into the circulation and other areas. "It was very resourceful," said one judge. "In the plan there didn't appear to be a lot of space dedicated to the social environment, and yet the experience of the building is definitely about that." Noteworthy in this regard is an open stair that serves as an amphitheater designed for both informal and programmed events.

Judges otherwise took note of the building's complementary look, its red brick evoking the adjacent campus arena and other campus buildings, but with the welcome addition of wide expanses of glass and aluminum shading devices. Its elevations relate to varying site conditions; the south elevation, for example, which faces the main approach to the campus, is a curved glass wall that gives views into the fitness areas (a combination of horizontal aluminum louvers and fritted glass panels offer privacy and provide shade). By contrast, the west elevation's glazing responds to the low aspect of the sun by incorporating an "egg-crate" arrangement of horizontal and vertical aluminum panels.

Judges' Comments:A very thoughtful plan organization, executed skillfully with an understanding that buildings have a responsibility of addressing the social aspects of campus life.

- James Braam, 360 Architecture
A well-studied solution. The building has a very logical plan and arrangement of spaces, combined with clean, consistent interior design, while the exterior is contextual with the rest of the campus.
- Robert McDonald, Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative
The magic here is that the brick building feels so solid and so massive, but when you're inside, it feels so light and elegant.
- Stefanie Greenfield, Cambridge Seven Associates
Architect of Record:Sasaki Associates Inc.Watertown, Mass.

Cost: $38 millionSquare Feet: 120,000Funded By: Student feesMajor Facility Components: Gymnasium, fitness center, jogging track, multipurpose rooms, locker rooms, administrative spaces

Photo © Robert Benson Photography

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The 2012 Athletic Business® Facility of Merit™ awards were recently selected by a panel of sports and recreation facility architects during two days of judging in Chicago. The 10 winners are being announced in this space during these two weeks, and profiles of all 10 will appear in the December issue of Athletic Business. The awards will be presented to the facility owners and architects at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in New Orleans on Friday, Nov. 30.