Award Winner - May 2012
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Illinois State University Fitness Center & McCormick Hall

Normal, Illinois

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines, Iowa

Size: 187,295 square feet

Project Cost: $49.6 million

Quick Tour:

  • Natatorium with five-lane lap pool
  • 35-foot climbing wall
  • Weights & fitness
  • Aerobics/spinning/dance
  • Racquetball/wallyball courts
  • Instructional gymnasium/MAC gymnasium
  • Jogging track
  • Biomechanics research lab
  • Athletes training lab
  • Exercise physiology lab
  • Classrooms
  • Locker rooms
  • Juice bar/grill
  • Laundry
  • High ropes challenge
  • KNR, Nutrition, Wellness & Rec offices
  • Support spaces

In the largest building project ever undertaken by Illinois State University, an addition and renovation funded through student fees has created a new nearly 190,000-square-foot home for its School of Kinesiology and Recreation and Recreation Services. The major challenge for this large project was to blend the myriad departments to maximize efficiencies of program, space allocation and budget. Ultimately, the building design spans a city street and connects the Campus Quad to Main Street.

The new student-centered building is a hub for campus activity and has revitalized the existing McCormick Hall, which was opened in 1925 and remodeled in 1961. Administrative, educational and instructional spaces were added in a new west addition to the building, which extends west toward Main Street, with portions spanning University Drive. The building provides multiple large recreation and academic venues to support existing and new programs.

The design incorporates much of the older Collegiate Georgian character of campus, melding it with a newly formed composition that lets natural light in, while providing views into the activity taking place inside. The street edges reflect McCormick Hall and other surrounding buildings with brick and punched windows. At the northwest corner, the building opens to allow views into and out of the natatorium, providing natural light for the pool during the day and emitting a warm glow to the outside at night. Along the Main Street elevation, the end of the fitness "bridge" punctuates the façade with large amounts of glass that form a picture window into the activity within the facility. On the southwest corner of the site, the building blends into a more contemporary expression with sloped roofs reflecting movement and excitement. Extensive use of glass at the track, lobby and fitness spaces allows for views into and out of the facility's various program areas.

Three stories of recreation and academic space allow users to see program areas, with many highly social spaces to see and be seen. In the main west lobby, users get dramatic views to the pool, climbing wall, juice bar, academic classrooms, gymnasium courts, weight and fitness rooms, aerobic rooms and jogging track above.

An east-west free zone corridor that begins in McCormick Hall and spans University Drive acts as a climate-controlled internal street, providing direct access from the Quad to Main Street, and providing interactive opportunities for users and passersby to see the activity going on in the facility.

The east side of the complex is the Quad-facing façade of McCormick Hall. Although this façade is very similar to its original appearance, the entry was widened dramatically—and returned the east façade to its original composition. This new entry greets students from the Quad and directs them to a new two-story space in the middle of McCormick Hall, bringing natural light and improved way-finding to the lowest level.

All told, this impressive expansion of an existing facility brings much-needed recreational space to students and faculty, as well as a new social context where users can relax and interact with their peers.


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

"The building organization and connecting bridge to the existing structure result in some dynamic spaces. The exterior, south façade is a bold window of activity from within."

Reed Voorhees

"A rare institutional facility that does not look institutional. I love the design approach to the structural elements, and the use of forms as a mass for design. For a large facility, this looks and feels very human."

Jeff Nagel

"Good integration of multiple program elements across two sites and a street."

Amado Fernandez

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Aquatic Consultant: Counsilman-Hunsaker

Architect-of-Record: PSA Dewberry

MEP Consultant: Clark Dietz

Sports Design Architect: RDG Planning & Design

Structural Consultant: PSA Dewberry

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