Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Rec

The University of Oregon's completed Student Recreation Center Expansion (left in photo). Image from the UO Student Recreation Center's Facebook page)
With great fanfare, the University of Oregon celebrated the opening on January 5 of its newly expanded and renovated Student Recreation Center. Thousands of giddy students poured through the doors, awestruck by the shiny, feature-packed, state-of-the-art temple to fitness. No small number acknowledged the facility’s significance, having overwhelmingly chosen to finance $50 million in improvements by means of a substantial student fee levy. The joyous occasion served as vindication of the trust they invested in a design concept that now stands as their legacy to future generations of Ducks.
It was also a proud moment for the members of Robertson/Sherwood/ Architects (the firm I work for), especially so for Carl Sherwood, AIA and Jenni Rogers, Assoc. AIA. Carl provided leadership for the large, multidisciplinary design team (which included RDG Planning & Design of Des Moines, IA and Poticha Architects of Eugene), and Jenni served as Carl’s primary backup throughout the construction period. These two worked tirelessly, shedding blood, sweat, and tears to help ensure the project’s success. 
Likewise, the celebration marked a satisfying milestone for Howard S. Wright Construction (HSW) and its legions of skilled and dedicated subcontractors. They completed the enormously complex project on schedule, within a timeline for which the adjective “aggressive” is most definitely an understatement. Kudos to HSW for making the seemingly impossible a reality.

View from Functional Training area. Photo by Jenni Rogers, Assoc. AIA

It was just last June that I blogged about how the project was taking shape. It was still very much a work in progress back then. Construction was perhaps only half complete, but it was easy to picture what it would look like when finished. Now that opening day has come, it’s clear our team has fulfilled the university’s vision of a modern, energy-efficient student recreation facility meeting both current and future needs.

The new natatorium. Photo by Jenni Rogers, Assoc. AIA

The university marked the achievement by affectionately rechristening the Student Recreation Center as “The Rec” on opening day.
Looking down on "Main Street." Photo by Jenni Rogers, Assoc. AIA

The photos I’ve posted here only hint at how massive the makeover is. What was previously cramped, dark, or simply obsolete is now spacious, bright, and high-tech. The facility boasts new group exercise and yoga studios, a new cycling studio, expanded fitness spaces, an extended rock climbing wall, a new natatorium, a new gymnasium, and generous social and lounge spaces, arrayed across 110,000 square feet of new space and 40,000 square feet of renovated area. The design exceeds State Energy Efficient Design (SEED) standards, having targeted the UO Model of Sustainable Development, which demands 35% more energy efficiency than Oregon Energy Code requirements. The project is on track to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
The Great Hall. Photo by Jenni Rogers, Assoc. AIA
The design incorporates expansive walls of glass, inside and out, allowing students to see and be seen at The Rec, drawing even more people into the building. The multilevel, spatially dynamic interior lets students visually shop the recreation programs and choose to participate actively or vicariously. Sections of the building have their own names: “Uptown,” for the cardio and weightlifting areas; “Midtown,” for the lobby, rock gym and rooms for fitness classes; and “Downtown,” for the aquatics facility. The student-centered ambiance is inviting, airy, and full of energy. 
The Rec also features integrated art, funded by Oregon’s 1% for Art in Public Places program.

Integrated art in the Great Hall. Image from the UO Student Recreation Center's Facebook page)
Radically transformed, The Rec is now unrivaled among the country’s campus recreation centers. Like the University of Oregon’s peerless athletic facilities, The Rec is top-notch, the standard against which others will be compared. 
More than ever before, the student recreation center is a focus of campus life, a de rigueur fixture on the college landscape. In today’s competitive world of higher education, the quality and amenities of the center are often key factors in the recruitment and retention of prospective students. A well-designed recreation facility is clearly important to both the university administration and those who attend the institution. We’re confident The Rec will reinforce the University of Oregon’s core academic mission by enhancing overall college satisfaction and success, and supporting happier, healthier, and more contented students.

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