Author Archives: cwhitcomb

Georgia College & State University, Student Wellness & Recreation Center

Executive Summary

Correlation To Campus Master Plan and Mission

As Georgia’s public liberal arts university, Georgia College & State University strives to encourage healthy lifestyles and self-responsibility for the long-term optimal health of their student population.  The GCSU Mission Statement identifies “a healthy lifestyle” as one of the principles of “graduates who have exceptional qualities of mind and character”.

A growing interest in wellness among the campus community suggested it was time to systematically address the wellness theme.  In November of 2007, former GCSU President, Dr. Dorothy Leland initiated a Campus Wellness Planning Committee responsible for undertaking a review of GCSU’s Wellness Cornerstone and a GCSU Campus Wellness Initiative.  She indicated that the purpose of this committee was to develop a Campus Wellness Action Plan for the President and the campus community, regarding activities that the university should undertake in order to advance campus wellness at GCSU. The committee began its work in early in 2008 and reported to the President as recommendations were finalized.

The proposed Wellness Center, as recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee was to be a comprehensive health education, recreation and fitness center which could also include indoor intramural activities.  The outdoor intramural activities are currently located on West Campus which was the anticipated site for the proposed new wellness center.  The center should include strength training, cardiovascular equipment, indoor jogging/walking track, basketball/volleyball/badminton courts, indoor pool, meeting/classroom space, climbing wall, healthy food service, fitness assessment, and many other services.

Intended and Actual Impact To Recreation Program

Georgia College & State University was struggling to meet the current and projected participation levels for many of their recreation and wellness programs. In the old Wellness Depot facility dating back to 1865, GCSU averaged only 600 student visits per day or about 10% of the student population.  As a result of the programming efforts of the Ad Hoc Committee and design team, the average daily usage has doubled and at peak times of the year reaches over 1,500 students daily.

Recreational and Intramural sports has benefited in many ways from the construction of a new facility. There are over 250 intramural teams throughout the year with multiple indoor activities going on simultaneously throughout fall and spring semesters.  Indoor sports alone have grown from 2 to 8 sports. Recreational and Intramural sports employs over 60 student workers.

Unique Aesthetic or Architectural Design Features

The new facility combines multiple student services in a highly visible “gateway” building at the campus’s west edge. Designed as a two-story long span volume along the north-south axis, the building interconnects a four-court gymnasium with an elevated jogging track, lap swimming and leisure pools, fitness and weight training areas, a large multipurpose room, administrative offices, and clinical space for student health services and counseling. Immediately recognized as the new community hub of the campus, the new Wellness and Recreation Center thrives as a place for students, faculty, staff, and the entire campus community.

The design concept metaphorically envisioned a floating two-and-a-half story-high parallelogram roof plane as a community “umbrella” under which all the program elements, both open and enclosed, would be organized. The dynamic roof plane is terminated with a large cantilevered overhang at the northeast and southwest corners to provide shade to the two-story high glass facades on the building’s north and south elevations. At night, the glass volume creates an iconic beacon for the campus.

Relationship Between Facility Design and Staffing

Participants pass thru an access control point then proceed to the activity areas. Four departments operate in the Wellness and Recreation Center including Wellness Programs, Recreational Sports, Student Health Services and Counseling Services, together providing a holistic approach to health for the students.  An optional second entry is provided for Health and Counseling Services.

The design of the Member Service desk juts out slightly into the main corridor providing a view down the primary circulation spine so the staff can observe the entire social and circulation areas.  Located adjacent to the glass enclosed 3-court gym, the front desk staff can also observe the majority of activity on the courts.  The 29’ climbing wall is also located near the Member Service desk for ease of observation.  The fitness area on the second floor is an open “L” shaped design where views of the entire area are virtually unobstructed.

Innovative Construction Materials or Methods

Large expanses of curtain wall on the east and south façades foster beautifully daylit, contemporary spaces while providing views of both interior activity and adjacent green spaces.  A matte copper colored insulated metal panel system integrates the contemporary design of the new facility seamlessly with the existing brick campus. High performance insulated glass, both clear and heavily fritted where appropriate, is employed to control glare and diffuse daylight. Polished concrete floors, acoustical CMU block walls, and interior fiber cement wall panels contribute to a durable interior environment necessary for a low maintenance and sustainable building life.

Sustainable Design Elements

The project team employed many sustainable building design strategies including energy-efficient mechanical systems, day-lighting, high-performance glazing and heavily fritted glass, exterior sun-control devices, bio-retention, stormwater management, recyclable materials and a “super insulated” roof and envelope. In addition, an all-white high albedo roof membrane is used to reflect heat gain at the roof.  Other sustainable specifications include low-VOC and recycled materials for finishes, regionally manufactured products, low-flow plumbing fixtures, daylighting and views in all occupied spaces, and a high-efficiency lighting and control system.

The design team also developed 28 wall mounted glass plaques to weave together the themes of “Fitness and Sustainability” for a LEED Innovation in Design credit. The building received LEED Silver certification.

Use of Technology

Taking into account the university’s desire for a sustainable building, the design team used energy and daylighting modeling techniques to inform key design decisions related to mechanical systems, lighting systems, exterior skin detailing and overall energy performance. The modeling programs allowed the owner to better understand the anticipated energy usage for the new facility and allow the Ad Hoc Committee to make informed design and planning decisions.

The Georgia College & State University Student Wellness & Recreation Center is a building that has revitalized the university’s recreation offerings.

Views from the north offer a striking view of the two-court gymnasium.

The front-entry plaza welcomes students into the recreation center.

The two-court gymnasium offers a number of recreation opportunities for students.

Multipurpose rooms create spaces for fitness classes, dance and other student opportunities.

An elevated three-lane jogging track offers views outside and to the gym courts below.

The cardio room overlooks a newly created grass field on campus.

A climbing wall sits adjacent to the glass enclosed gymnasium.

Indoor lap and leisure pools create new opportunities for aquatic recreation.

Check-in area for health services.

The building offers a health services exam room.

Counseling rooms welcome natural sunlight.

Outdoor pool deck and lounge area creates spaces for students to connect and enjoy leisure time.

The Georgia College & State University is a dynamic facility.