Award Winner - May 2009
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Recreation Invitation

Eastern Washington University Recreation Center
Cheney, Wash.

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Sports Architecture in Denver

Size: 117,699 square feet

Project Cost: $20.5 million

Quick Tour:

  • 17,000-square-foot fitness facility
  • 200-meter indoor running track
  • Four-court gymnasium
  • Ice rink
  • 38-foot climbing wall
  • Covered parking
  • New dining facility


ith its emphasized entries, casual social spaces and preeminent location on campus, the new University Recreation Center at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash., invites the campus community to take part in the many recreational activities taking place inside. Outside a grand entry stair climbs alongside tiered seating to an elevated entry plaza, and inside the sports pub and main lobby give students and faculty a place to meet and mingle. The lower lobby extends the opportunity for casual social interaction, with connections to the facility's ice rink, climbing wall and EPIC, the university's outdoor program.

The design of the facility contributes to the feeling of connectedness and diversity with a combination of dynamic shallow arched roof forms and simple flat roofed forms, emphasizing entries, primary spaces and daylighting elements.

The view from outside and in is all about recreation. The design provides for direct sightlines between areas of activity. From the elevated main entry, patrons get a view of the ice rink, sports pub and climbing wall, while a kayak hanging in the two-level entry to the EPIC Center provides an enticing hint of the recreation opportunities available there.

In addition to being a hub for the community of students, faculty, staff and the wider community, the new University Recreation Center also makes a statement about the global community, having been awarded LEED Gold certification for its environmentally friendly construction. To achieve this goal, designers incorporated structured parking, extensive daylighting, lighting controls and recycled materials.

Most influential is the daylighting component, with carefully integrated windows, translucent panels and curtainwall systems combined with vaulted roof forms to allow evenly distributed natural light to penetrate deep within the building's interior, reducing glare and the need for artificial lighting. Even the ice arena feels the benefit, being indirectly daylit through clerestory monitors on the roof. The climbing wall, fitness center and gymnasium also feature natural light.

Other green features of the University Recreation Center include environmentally friendly bathrooms, water-conserving landscaping and pedestrian/bicycle-oriented access, as well as low-VOC products and sophisticated, highly efficient ventilation systems to ensure optimum indoor air quality.

At the heart of the facility is the multi-use ice rink with seating for 750 and an overlooking sports pub. For large gatherings like concerts, commencements and tournaments, the rink can be converted into a small multipurpose arena. The rink is complemented by the elements expected in a university recreation facility, including a four-court basketball gymnasium, an elevated walking/jogging track, fitness center and 38-foot climbing wall.

The fitness space functions both for individual fitness use as well as for academic uses, operating as a lab for major programs at a university. Because the fitness area was designed in zones, individual and academic users can simultaneously participate in distinctly different programs. The Fitness Center is home to the Fast Fitness class. The largest class on EWU's campus, this class averages 1,500 students per quarter, inviting them to continue interacting with the facility for their entire college career.


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

Exterior elevations are alive with color and well integrated architectural forms, along with complementary exterior materials. Multi-layering of program spaces in the floor plan, along with the appropriate spatial adjacencies. Bold interiors with an undeniable sense of fun and recreation. Functional and sustainable design.

Tom Poulos

Facility orientation and massing take great advantage of sloping site. Combination of warm and industrial materials work well with the dynamic building forms and sun control devices. All program areas are located on the appropriate level.

Michael Pratl

Excellent example of sustainability achieving LEED Gold certification.

Colleen McKenna

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