To See and Be Seen

Florida International University Recreation Center

S U B M I T T E D    B Y:

The Borrelli/RDG Group (a joint venture) in Des Moines, Iowa

Size: 51,000 gross square feet

Project cost: $6,476,216 (construction), $672,073 (total furnishings and equipment costs) funded through state CITF (Capital Improvement Trust Fund) monies

Quick tour:

  • Two-court multipurpose gymnasium
  • 12,500-square-foot weight and fitness space
  • 3,000-square-foot multipurpose activity room
  • Two-story strength-conditioning area
  • Locker rooms
  • Support spaces
  • Food service (Camille's Sidewalk Café) and lounge space
  • Recreation administrative suite

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."


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

Great relationship of spaces. Nice harmony of simple forms and materials. Great solution for budget.

Kenneth J. Ogden

Nice job maximizing a variety of program activities on a limited budget. I like the two-story entry space and playfulness of the ceiling plane above the control desk. Nice site planning. The overall building plan thoughtfully respects the east-west axis and allows for future phases.

Colleen McKenna

From the plan to the exterior materials and elevations to the interiors, everything about this project was 'standout.' Siting and overall form take cues from campus plan and future needs, while being a nice piece of stand-alone architecture. A simple and well-thought-out interior layout wrapped in a dynamic and colorful exterior skin. Nice light-filled spaces that provide views to the surrounding areas. A wonderful addition to the FIU campus.

Greg Garlock

Great variety to the plan. Interesting drama with sweeping gestures.

Chris Kastelic

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Structural consultant:

DeSimone Consulting Engineers

Mechanical/electrical consultant:

T.Y. Lin International


T & G Constructors

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