Find a printable version here
Award Winner - May 2008

Upward and Onward

North Dakota State University Wallman Wellness Center
Fargo, North Dakota





S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative in Denver

Size: 74,000 square feet

Project Cost: $12 million

Quick Tour:

Administrative offices
Expanded multipurpose/group exercise rooms
Expanded open fitness/cardio area
Expanded free-weight space
Expanded child care
Three-story climbing pinnacle with separate top-rope climbing and bouldering wall
Men's and women's locker rooms
Four racquetball courts, including one racquetball/squash conversion court
Student health/wellness
Expanded three-court gymnasium, accommodating basketball, volleyball and badminton
Multi-Activity Court for indoor soccer, inline hockey, basketball and tennis
Martial arts studio
Spinning studio
Walk/jog track



S
even years ago, North Dakota State University (NDSU) opened the doors on a new wellness and recreation facility that became so popular it couldn't continue as it was. It had to expand to meet the ever-growing needs of students, faculty and staff.

However, the site provided some challenges to expansion. "At the earliest stages, we had a good idea that what they wanted was not going to fit on the ground," said Brian Beckler, senior principal for Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative.

The site was limited on all sides as well as below due to a high water table and the possibility of flooding. "We couldn't go horizontally," Beckler said. "The only possible way was to go vertically and try to push and pull horizontally wherever we could. Because we were connecting to the existing building, we had to make logical connections."

According to Beckler, it was also really important to the university that the new building maintain the same look as the existing facility so that the entire facility was one complex and there wasn't an "old" building and a "new" building. "They wanted everyone to perceive it was all built at the same time," he said.

So up it went, literally, positioning the newly expanded three-court gym, the multi-activity court and the elevated jogging/walking track on the second floor along with other studio space. "We took the second floor out over existing parking and dropped columns," Beckler explained. "We didn't take away any parking. Instead of open air, you're driving under the building."

The design team was able to push a portion of the building down, locating the racquetball courts and a viewing area downstairs and reinforcing with redundant waterproofing systems.

The gym and track area are showcased through glass, allowing students to have a full view into the gym and track areas. "There's definitely a 'wow' factor on the second floor," said Gary Fisher, director of the Wallman Wellness Center. "There's a lot of natural light, which is very important in this climate. It's a lot nicer to run on an indoor track when you can see outside."

Interior glazing was important too, Beckler said. "We put more glass in the center of this type of facility than there often is and locating glass in areas you wouldn't normally," he said. "This was all to make sure that even though it's cloudy a lot in Fargo and there are months of winter, you always feel connected to the outside when you're inside and you're always connected inside when you're outside. You see activity and motion on the interior and highlight the people element. It's something special we tried to integrate."


FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.wellness.ndsu.edu


A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Architect-of-Record:

EAPC Architects Engineers - Fargo

Design/Recreation Consultant:

Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative

Interior Designer:

Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative

Civil/Structural Engineer:

EAPC Architects Engineers - Fargo

Mechanical/Electrical Engineer:

EAPC Architects Engineers - Fargo

General Contractor:

Olaf Anderson & Son



More award winners...