Award Winner - May/June 2005
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Georgia Institute of Technology's Campus Recreation Center


S u b m i t t e d    b y:


300,659 total square feet

Project cost:
$43 million (including site work) through tax-increment financing funds

Quick tour:

  • 15,000-square-foot fitness center including a full range of cardiovascular equipment, weight machines and free weights as well as a service desk
  • Four racquetball courts and one squash court
  • 35-foot climbing wall
  • Renovated 50-meter competition pool and diving tank with seating for 1,800 spectators
  • New leisure pool including six lap lanes, shallow-water area, water slide, current channel and whirlpool spa
  • Men's and Women's athletic locker rooms and aquatic locker rooms
  • Outdoor sun deck surrounded by lawn space
  • Entry lobby with a view of the major facility components
  • H2O Caf√© overlooking the leisure pool and directly accessible from the main concourse
  • Administrative offices, activity rooms, mechanical spaces and customer-service desk
  • Two smaller multipurpose spaces and one larger space
  • Multi-activity court (MAC) with recessed soccer goals, team boxes and perimeter dasher board
  • Gymnasium containing six multipurpose courts to accommodate basketball, volleyball, badminton and fencing
  • 6.7-laps/mile running track surrounding gymnasium

Wow. One little word sums up the big response to the new campus recreation center at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The 300,659-square-foot facility combines an aesthetically pleasing design and engineering innovation to create one of the nation's premier college fitness centers.

"When you walk in the front door, there's a definite 'wow' factor," says Michael Edwards, the school's director of campus recreation. "It's very inviting to our students, faculty and staff."

The facility includes a 50-meter competition pool; six-court gymnasium space; fitness center; racquetball courts; climbing wall; leisure pool; offices; locker rooms; and a 500-car, three-level parking deck. Hastings & Chivetta Architects, Inc. in St. Louis took on the project. Their design makes the previous single-purpose facility usable for all recreational activities.

The center's size and openness offer an airiness that fosters an inviting atmosphere for the school's 16,500 students. The facility, which boasts more than 204 state-of-the-art fitness machines and a fifth-floor track with a view of downtown Atlanta, has seen a jump in recreation activity since it opened last August. In February, the center hosted more than 70,000 visitors, a nearly 88-percent increase over the previous average.

"We're blowing away past monthly records," Edwards says. "The students are very excited about it."

University officials had many goals for the new campus recreation center. They wanted to provide students with a top recreation and aquatic center, one that encompasses the best Georgia Tech has to offer in student life and recreation. They also strove to build a world-class aquatic facility for the men's and women's varsity swimming and diving teams and attract national, state and local aquatic events.

By achieving these aims, the school gave itself a distinct marketing advantage over other colleges. The rec center has become a must-see attraction on the campus tour, giving potential students another reason to consider the university.

"It's a stop for all our prospective students," Edwards says. "They just stop dead once they step inside."

Tour guides did not get the same reaction from the university's original recreation center, which was built in 1977 and had become a drab, obsolete workout place. When Georgia Tech was tapped as the site of the 1996 Olympic swimming and diving competitions, a 15,000-seat facility was attached to the existing building. The venue, however, was constructed solely for the Summer Games and was not suitable for year-round use. The venue's extreme vertical height was necessary to accommodate the 15,000 spectator seats, 13,000 of which were temporary.

Hastings & Chivetta's design incorporates an intermediate floor at the fourth level over the pool to accommodate about 60,000 square feet of gymnasium and multipurpose space. To further complicate matters, it was required that the existing roof remain intact. Solar panels that cover the roof are part of a 25-year research project being conducted by Georgia Tech, Georgia Power and the U.S. Department of Energy. The solution was to construct a 175-foot prestressed concrete floor span, believed to be the longest in the world, underneath the existing roof and around the existing structural support. Building a floor inside the existing structure was a creative solution‚ÄĒand one that some suggested could not be done.

The facility's architects, however, embraced the challenge. The idea of achieving an engineering feat at Georgia Tech, one of the country's top engineering schools, seemed appropriate. A great deal of designing, engineering and testing went into the floor before it was ever built.

"The reality was that it was very complicated," says Erik Kocher, a principal at Hastings & Chivetta. "It ties back to Georgia Tech. That was the fun part about it."

J u d g e s '   N o t e s

"Quite a splash on campus. Impressive engineering and architectural renovation challenge."

jim maland

"Some said that it couldn't be done. This project proves that with a creative structural engineering solution, long-term needs for campus recreation can be solved by re-vamping an Olympic Aquatic venue into a cost-effective campus asset."

steve blackburn

"This really steals the show for adaptive re-use. The seamless introduction of a deck over the pool is inspired. Nice articulation of the façades and rooflines. A harmonious composition that breaks down the massiveness of the façade."

andrew lavallee

"Although we must give credit to incredible technical feat they presented with giving rebirth to the existing structure, our heart was won over by how the parts incorporated views of city into interior environment."

rudy fabiano

A s s o c i a t e d    F i r m s


Councilman/Hunsaker & Associates, Inc. and Water Technology, Inc.


Skanska USA Building

Civil engineer

URS Corporation

Mechanical engineer

Lee Company

electrical engineer

Cleveland Electric

structural engineer

ABS Consulting

Code consultant

Schulte & Associates


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