UC Riverside’s $35 million, 91892 square foot Student Recreation Center Expansion addresses the needs of a growing campus and has been designed to promote the future success of its Recreation Program. The design solution provides additional recreation and support spaces and fully integrates with an existing building to create a unified recreation environment. The project brief presented three major design challenges. The addition had to preserve an existing pedestrian thoroughfare while connecting seamlessly with the University’s existing recreation building. Second, the interior spaces had to be open and interconnected and capture a broad range of views across campus and to the surrounding mountains. And, perhaps most importantly, the project was to achieve exemplary energy performance exceeding California’s Title 24 mandate by 30% and achieving LEED Gold Certification.
Site and Context
The project site is at the north boundary of the main campus. The UCR campus has design guidelines for its architecture which define appropriate massing characteristics and mandate the use of the UCR Blend Brick. The arid climate of the area is characterized by triple digit summer temperature, low humidity, and abundant sunshine.
The design creates a holistic recreation complex addressing the challenges of site, context, environment, and building image. To maintain access to the existing Arena while creating a meaningful connection to the existing recreation building, the design was conceived as a “bridge” characterized by a robust second floor. The majority of fitness components are elevated to this second level to provide views in all directions and create a strong physical connection with the existing building. The curved open plan is a contiguous space with a variety of view orientations and visual connections to the lower levels. The ground floor features extensive shading from the cantilevered upper level, and is defined by open glazed fitness areas loosely defined by the opaque volumes of the MAC gym and a circular locker room clad in UCR’s campus blend brick. An undulating perforated exterior scrim, formally derived from the movement pattern of the sun, shades the second floor glazing. The metal scrim extends to the floor line at western exposures, and lifts up and extends out from the façade where the glazing faces south. This screen creates a unique visual identity for the building within the campus context. More importantly, it allows for increased glazing by reducing solar gain and glare while providing a combination of filtered and unobstructed views and natural light. The design weaves together multiple recreation activities including jogging, rock climbing, fitness, basketball, indoor soccer, weights, physical therapy and swimming. The open concept creates dynamic relationships between the various components enhancing the building’s potential as a place for social engagement. The environmentally sensitive project is currently on target for LEED Gold certification. The new Recreation Center complex has become a visual campus icon and reinforces for its students the connection between mind and body.