Award Winner - May 2008
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Going for Gold

The Health & Fitness Center at Washtenaw Community College
Ann Arbor, Michigan

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative in Denver

Size: 76,000 square feet

Project Cost: $13.8 million

Quick Tour:

Open fitness area, including 8,000-square-foot cardio and circuit/weight training
1,200-square-foot free-weight strength-training space
Spinning studio, yoga studio, Pilates studio and multipurpose studio
Elevated 1/8-mile cushioned track
6,635-square-foot gymnasium, with full-size basketball court and volleyball court
6,600-square-foot natatorium, featuring co-ed whirlpool, 25-yard, five-lane lap pool, 92-degree large activity/therapy pool
1,200-square-foot "Kids in Motion" childcare area
Express/day lockers plus full-service locker rooms for men and women with lounge, whirlpool, sauna and steam rooms
Full-service family locker room
Co-ed massage rooms
Café, including indoor and outdoor seating
Retail shop
Reception/lounge area
Conference/education classrooms
Administrative offices

ccording to Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative (OLC), the architectural firm that built the Health and Fitness Center at Washtenaw Community College, no other college health and fitness center west of Pennsylvania has attempted what this one did: Gold-level LEED certification. LEED certification, created by the U.S. Green Building Council, provides independent, third-party verification that a building project is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to work, and work out.

Certification comes in levels, with each having its own standards and each increasingly difficult to achieve. At press time, the 76,000-square-foot facility had been submitted to the U.S. Green Building Council and was awaiting word on the certification. However, those involved in the process feel confident the rating will be achieved.

The college had a few goals in mind for architects to strive toward. "The LEED certification was their biggest goal," said Mike Fleming, senior principal and project manager for OLC. The facility was also to be designed in a way that provides openness inside and makes it a centerpiece on campus from the outside.

In order to meet the LEED Gold standard, several elements were incorporated into the design. The building features an automatic lighting system and non-toxic and renewable floors and carpets. The white, reflective roof reduces heat and cooling requirements, while a central boiler unit uses recaptured heat. Temperature sensors automatically adjust room temperature.

Surrounding the building is concrete rather than asphalt to reduce the "heat island" effect. Seventy-five percent of construction waste was diverted away from landfills. Everywhere they could be employed, the building features recycled content and rapidly renewable materials. The landscaping requires little to no irrigation.

Another aspect of the building that adds points for certification but is also a big design element is the amount of daylight and openness the building features, which was also a goal of the facility. "It's transparent," Fleming said. "You can stand at one end of the building and look all the way through it." Daylight streams into all parts of the facility.

This transparency also encourages more usability, Fleming said. "You can experience what's happening inside before you walk in. The way lighting was treated and elevating the track to the second floor—all that can be seen from the street on approach to the building. It really stands out."

Another very visible aspect of the center is the childcare center, which is right on the front corner of the building and has 16-foot floor-to-ceiling glass windows so visitors know right away that the facility is family-friendly. This facility, while certainly providing fitness opportunities to students and faculty, also targets the surrounding, non-academic community, which represents about 60 percent of the center's membership.

As this was the first recreation center on campus for students, the college decided to open it up to the community to avoid putting a financial burden on uninterested students. To accommodate all user groups, the facility has two separate entries—one that faces the parking lot and another that is more directly linked to campus.

Users will find the elevated jogging track, dedicated free weight and cardio space, a five-lane lap pool and warm-water therapy pool, a stretching area, studios, lounge space and a café with indoor and outdoor seating. It's a facility that "makes you feel good," Fleming said.

He also noted the college's commitment to quality in that they were willing to incur the extra cost of having the architect on site full-time. "That's something we've never experienced before," he said. "That's something the owner requested. I think they wanted to make sure the quality design was maintained through construction, and it helped keep construction costs down. You can address things much more quickly. It met schedule and met budget."


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

The LEED Gold center successfully integrates collegiate and community recreation activity spaces in well-organized and flexible design.

Janet Jordan

A club atmosphere for community college students. Innovative points for LEED Gold certification.

Steve Blackburn

Beautiful LEED Gold project, flooded with daylight. Open yet sophisticated interiors.

Nancy Freedman

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Landscape Architect:

Bowers & Rein Associates

Structural Engineer:

KYSE Structural Engineers

Mechanical Engineer:

The Ballard Group Inc.

Electrical Engineer:

AE Design Group Inc.

Civil Engineer:

Washtenaw Engineering

LEED Consultant:

Rocky Mountain Institute

Geo-Technical Consultant:


General Contractor:

Grange Construction

Operations Consultant:

Power Wellness Management

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