Recreation with a View
Student Recreation Center & Lockridge Arena
Colorado School of Mines
Located in between student housing and the central campus, the new student recreation center is based on a pronounced circulation spine. This spine is a spacious connector to the center's competition and practice gymnasiums, fitness areas, competition and practice swimming pools, locker rooms, a climbing wall and the 2,500-seat Lockridge Arena. What may be most impressive about the center are large windows that make up the majority of the exterior of the building, exposing students to a view of mountains and forest no matter what activity they may be taking part in inside.
Facility Manager Mike Bowker said that building the new recreation center was key in implementing the school's master plan, and it can also be used as a good recruiting tool for prospective students. Bowker also said that so far, the numbers of visitors have far exceeded that of the former recreation center.
"With the grand spaces, climbing wall and its connectivity to the outside, students are drawn to the center," Bowker said. "This facility has the whole recreation aspect, with classes, events, workout room and a place for students to gather socially."
In addition to the building, new walkways were built to converge students from other parts of the campus, including a cul-de-sac that branches off a bordering street for a drop-off point. The climbing wall tower, located on the east end of the building, faces the main campus and also provides an entrance lobby for the center. The atrium separates student flow from the activity area but is open to all aspects of the center, so there is a feeling of connectivity. The fitness area, juice bar, arena lobby, recreation lobby and climbing wall are open to the atrium space.
The building was designed by Sink Combs Dethlefs with the idea of making the interior reflect the exterior. One technique was to use ground face masonry units and exposed steel construction. The circulation spine features 4-by-4-foot wood paneling attached to the walls, wood accent elements used at the entry desk, concession stand and juice bar. Also, light painted steel structures augment indirect lighting and natural daylight.
The exterior is of a design that breaks up the massing of the arena, gymnasium and pool. By using different colored masonry units and red curved brick planes, the large building can be brought down to a human scale. Tinted glass punched openings at the pool control glare and allow light into the pool. Students can enter the building through curved entryways that reduce the scale of the building.
"The idea was to maximize the students' experience, and the facility is an opportunity to attract students to something they enjoy," said the project manager at Sink Combs Dethlefs. "We wanted to make sure the building wasn't an obstacle, but more public and open."
The recreation center also provides a level of sustainability within its walls. Daylight modeling is provided through skylights and clerestories along with dimming controllers so that the majority of the structure uses very little artificial lighting. The recreation center also features the usage of the campus' central steam system to provide efficient HVAC. The architect said that skylights at the pool and in the gymnasiums along with controlled artificial light sensors are important in reducing the amount of energy the facility uses.
"We wanted as many sustainability features as possible," he explained. "Using the central steam system, white colored reflective roofing and tinted windows surrounding the pool that keep light from reflecting off the water and heat out are all important for reducing energy costs."