To See and Be Seen
Florida International University Recreation Center
To truly appreciate the new recreation center at Florida International University, one has to understand the facility it replaced.
Two years ago, students sweated it out in an uninspired, crowded fitness center that basically consisted of a weight room and a couple of cardiovascular machines. The faculty, though they had access to the facility, steered clear of it.
What a difference a year and $6.4 million makes. FIU students now enjoy a 51,000-square-foot center dedicated to the pursuit of health and fitness.
The building houses a 12,500-square-foot fitness and strength area, a state-of-the-art cardio theater and a multipurpose space that can be divided into two rooms. A two-court gymnasium was built with radius corners for activities such as indoor floor hockey and soccer.
Where visitors once had few recreation options on the south Florida campus, they now can chose from a wide array of activities. In addition to myriad equipment options—cardiovascular, selectorized, plate-loaded and free weights—guests can choose from a vast array of fitness classes or consult with a personal trainer.
The modern design, without question, helps create the dynamic, engaging facility in the heart of Miami. The curvilinear western building form, the elliptical shape that marks the building entry and an iconic vertical building sign integrated into the architecture contribute to the uniqueness of the design. The sinuous terrazzo floor and ceiling patterns add to the building's South Florida mystique.
"The lifestyle of South Florida is to see and be seen," FIU Recreation Director Rob Frye says. "And this building allows for that."
The facility's exterior, which incorporates simple forms and powerful accent colors, takes its cues from the common architectural approach to the building fabric on FIU's campus. Architect Kevin Stubbs believed it would be a mistake to ignore these suggestions from surrounding buildings.
"The architectural flavor, which is more of a South Florida style, is associated with art deco style," Stubbs says. "It is not as prevalent in South Florida anymore, but it is on the campus of Florida International."
The approach to the exterior design also was applied to the interior of the building with these simple forms and planes being balanced against the drama of the curvilinear floor pattern and ceiling planes within the entry, lobby and primary circulation area. The interior volumes and simple circulation pattern reinforce this dynamic and user-friendly atmosphere.
The result is a facility that everyone on campus can enjoy. Faculty memberships have doubled thanks, in large part, to the improved atmosphere and the dedication of a less-frenetic space to workout.
"The color, the light, everything just comes together perfectly." Frye says. "We really wanted to have an uplifting facility—which we didn't have before—and now we have one."
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