Award Winner - May 2013
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Georgia College Wellness & Recreation Center

Milledgeville, Georgia

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Cannon Design in Boston

Size: 104,000 square feet

Project Cost: $28.2 million

Quick Tour:

  • Two-court gymnasium
  • Multipurpose gymnasium
  • Three-lane elevated jogging track
  • Cardiovascular exercise areas
  • Weight training area
  • Multipurpose room
  • Lap and leisure pool
  • Health Counseling Services clinical space

The growing interest in health and wellness among the campus community at Georgia College & State University (GCSU) in Milledgeville, Ga., prompted the creation of its new Student Wellness and Recreation Center, a 104,000-square-foot facility that essentially converts an asphalt parking lot into considerable new green space.

The new $28.2 million center creates an iconic front door to the west campus that helps establish a renewed sense of community and campus life. The facility's design involves an arrangement of pathways that connect the Wellness Center with residential life at the university, an outdoor leisure pool, conference and dining hall facility, as well as athletic fields.

As far as the aesthetic elements, multiple student services in a visible "gateway" building are located at the campus' west edge—not to mention the fact that the building connects a three-court gymnasium with an elevated jogging track, lap swimming and leisure pools, fitness and weight training areas, a large multipurpose room, administrative offices, and clinical space for student health services and counseling.

The new center also comes with sustainable design elements that include energy-efficient mechanical systems, high-performance glazing and heavily fritted glass, exterior sun-control devices, bio-retention, stormwater management, recyclable materials and a "super-insulated" roof and envelope. Other sustainable specifications include low-VOC and recycled materials for finishes, regionally manufactured products, low-flow plumbing fixtures, daylighting and views in all occupied spaces, as well as a high-efficiency lighting and control system.

To boot, the mechanical systems are integrated into a penthouse bridge above spectator seating at the pool and below the roofline to establish a clean simple flat roof plane with no visible equipment on the roof. In addition, 28 wall-mounted glass plaques were developed to weave together the themes of "fitness and sustainability" for a LEED Innovation in Design credit. The building has received LEED Silver certification.

Plans to improve wellness on the campus first began in November 2007 when former GCSU President, Dr. Dorothy Leland, initiated a Campus Wellness Planning Committee that was in charge of taking on a review of the university's Wellness Cornerstone and a GCSU Campus Wellness Initiative. The goal was to create a Campus Wellness Action Plan, defining activities that the university should take on in order to advance wellness on campus.

Ultimately, the recreation center achieved the goals of the university's Campus Wellness Action Plan by increasing participation and enhancing the campus culture.

The new facility attracts more than 1,500 students on a daily basis and has more than 250 intramural teams that are active throughout the year—with multiple indoor activities that go on throughout the fall and spring semesters. The former Wellness Depot facility that dates back to 1865 saw only 600 visits per day from students.


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

"Straightforward building organization allows for a lot of visually open recreational spaces and dramatic glass facades all around—this facility broadcasts energy."

Troy Sherrard

"This is an iconic, bold and graphically powerful facility, with an architectural design approach that clearly integrates the exterior with the interior."

Tom Poulos

"Strong exterior architectural design—massing, proportions and materials are strong. Good use of natural light."

Katie Barnes

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Architect of Record: Menefee Architecture

Pool Consultant: Counsilman/Hunsaker & Associates

Programming Consultant: Brailsford & Dunlavey

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