A Healthy Campus

Sports & Health Center Addition, University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, Minnesota

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines, Iowa

Size: 46,000 square feet (addition)

Project Cost: $9.047 million

Quick Tour:

Two-court multipurpose gymnasium
10,000-square-foot weight and fitness space
Athletic conditioning area
37-foot climbing wall
Two multipurpose activity rooms
Minor remodeling of existing building
Administrative offices and support spaces

efore the campus got its new Sports & Health Center Addition, the waiting lines for exercise and fitness equipment and activities at the University of Minnesota Duluth were long—sometimes hours. This was despite the fact that approximately 90 percent of UMD students have participated in exercise and fitness, as well as 450 faculty and staff.

Now the wait is over, and students, faculty and staff can take advantage of the 46,000-square-foot addition, which includes a multipurpose gymnasium, expanded fitness areas, group exercise rooms, a climbing wall and more.

"Student demand for recreational and fitness activities has grown sharply through the years," said Mick McComber, director of UMD Recreational Sports Outdoor Program. "With our new expanded facilities, UMD is now able to provide these healthy lifestyle activities to our students, faculty and staff."

Designed to coordinate well with the existing facilities, the complex now includes a swimming pool, Romano Gymnasium, Olympic-size ice rink, sports medicine facilities, classrooms and meeting rooms, locker rooms for students, faculty, staff and intercollegiate teams, the Ward Wells Field House and Malosky Field/Griggs Stadium.

The addition did away with an inefficient, multi-level portion of the former building that was not user-friendly. The new construction improves circulation, security and building efficiencies, as well as offering an aesthetic enhancement.

Inside and out, the facility reveals connections to the surrounding Minnesota environment. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the two-story fitness center flood the addition with diffused northern daylight, while at the same time, poured acrylic panels used at the upper-floor guardrails screen exercisers from the street, giving them a sense of privacy. With their embedded crystals, the panels reflect the winter season, while the natural colors used throughout the facility's finishes and fabric aim to reflect the colors of autumn.

At the same time that it reflects the natural environment, the building also protects the environment through its many sustainable features. These include the use of recycled materials, efficient HVAC system and controls, lighting control system, daylighting to offset energy consumption, low VOC in indoor materials and more.

The building was designed to reflect the staff's appreciation for Duluth's natural environment, and at the same time, the design makes staff work easier. It provides a single point of control for access to recreation programs and spaces, minimizes multiple entrances and exits, and brings staff into a single office suite.

The new addition will help the university recruit and retain students, while improving their quality of life once they're on campus. In its first month of operation, the facility logged more than 8,000 visits per week—a sure sign that the high demand for the addition has translated into appreciation for the new facility.


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

Super expansion of existing infrastructure; great use of windows and glazing.

Randy Mendioroz

Bold, geometric exterior.

Nancy Freedman

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Associate Architect:

Stanius Johnson Architects

Structural Consultant:

Meyer, Borgman & Johnson Inc.

Mechanical/Electrical Consultant:

Jacobs & Johnson Inc.

Civil Consultant:

Short, Elliott, Hendrickson Inc.

General Contractor:


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