Student Recreation Center

Montclair, New Jersey

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines, Iowa

Size: 78,000 square feet

Project Cost: $21.92 million

Quick Tour:

  • 10,000-sqaure-foot fitness space
  • Recreational multipurpose court space
  • Jogging/walking track
  • Two multipurpose activity rooms
  • Two racquetball courts
  • Indoor six-lane, 25-yard pool
  • Juice bar
  • Locker rooms
  • Administrative offices


ith a vastly spacious, wide open ambiance, the new 78,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center at Montclair University in Montclair, N.J., has answered the school administration's desire for essential recreational space.

"Students in New Jersey live in the densest population in the country. They don't feel healthy. They should have a place where they can work out, where they can do aerobics. This is not a luxury. This (facility) is critical to a healthy life," Montclair State University President Susan Cole stated in a 2008 nationally televised interview for PBS.

Recognized with a 2009 Excellence in Design Award by the New Jersey Recreation & Park Association, the new Student Recreation Center has answered these needs.

Its entrance is located on the south end of the building, extending out to established pedestrian and vehicular routes. Meanwhile, low-maintenance native plants are used around the building to create green space. The entrance plaza uses simple concrete paving, stone elements and landscaping to establish a strong processional feel. The entry tower provides a prominent and inviting statement reflecting the mission style character of the campus.

The lobby entrance of the facility classifies its social space, with views to most of the activity areas. Features of the new center include 10,000 square feet of fitness space, a multipurpose gym featuring two courts, a three-lane jogging and walking track, two multipurpose activity rooms, two racquetball courts, an indoor six-lane, 25-yard pool, a juice bar, locker rooms with showers, lounge rooms equipped with a TV, Play Station 3 and Wii, and administrative offices. The fitness and cardio area of the center has an imposing view of the Manhattan skyline, while other second-level areas have impressive views of the interior.

Just next to the control desk at the center are the monumental stairs and channel glass light wall. Energy-efficient LED [light-emitting diode] lighting in the wall creates a user-programmable light show that can be changed, depending on the time of day or desired effect.

Montclair State University, a 16,000-student suburban campus located 15 miles west of Manhattan Island, is the second largest and fastest growing university in New Jersey.

"Life is stressful for students, especially in New Jersey—our surveys clearly tell us that—and our students need a place and a staff devoted to helping them make healthy and balanced life choices," President Cole said.


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

"Well planned layout on a challenging site. Like the open feel of the interior."

Dave Larson

"A very thoughtful plan. Nicely appointed entry plaza."

Frank Beans

"Great indoor and outdoor appeal. Transparency between indoors and outdoors with wonderful views."

Susan Wallover

"Exterior architecture within context of the existing campus architecture is excellent. Lobby image is fantastic and departs from most traditional student rec centers. Views to the city are terrific."

Erik Kocher

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Associate Architect: Cubellis

Aquatics Consultant: Aquatic Design Group

Structural Consultant: Consulting Engineers Collaborative

MEP Consultant: Clive Samuels & Associates

Civil Consultant: Schoor DePalma

Acoustical Consultant: Abel Consulting

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