Student Recreation Center

California State University, Bakersfield

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Sink Combs Dethlefs in Denver

Size: 75,130 square feet

Project Cost: $17.29 million

Quick Tour:

  • Recreation gym
  • Three multipurpose rooms
  • Fitness center, cardio studios
  • Men's & women's locker rooms
  • Administrative space
  • Athletic training
  • Classrooms
  • Climbing wall
  • Racquetball/handball & squash courts
  • Sauna, steam room, spas
  • Tennis
  • Wellness space
  • Indoor track


n 2005, students at California State University, Bakersfield, voted to fund a new state-of-the-art recreation center to bolster the health, wellness and community spirit of the university. The new center, designed by Denver-based Sink Combs Dethlefs, opened in May 2009 and features a 34-foot climbing wall, suspended indoor track, three-court gym, fitness center with a 22-foot high, 24-screen TV tower and more.

"We left the floor plan open," said architect and project manager Kevin Armstrong, "so that from almost anyplace in the building you can connect to the outside."

The connection to outside also makes the facility more sustainable, with northern-facing windows to allow more constant light levels without as much solar heat gain, cutting back on artificial lighting and air conditioning. Other measures were taken to ensure environmental sustainability, including occupancy and lighting sensors that turn off artificial lights when they're not needed. Modern, energy-efficient mechanical systems improve indoor air quality through monitoring systems that provide the optimal amount of outside air.

The facility is located along direct routes from the student union and residence halls, with a direct pedestrian link from the student union plaza to the recreation center entry square, creating a dialogue between the two spaces. This connection is underscored by a cantilevered steel-framed patio at the recreation center entry, which helps form the framework of gathering spaces that enhance foot traffic and student life at the university.

According to Mark Harriman, the director of the center, it has contributed to the athletic coaches' ability to recruit high-quality student athletes, as well as bolstering enrollment and improving quality of life for the students.

"It creates a whole different vibrancy to campus," he said. "It has clearly become one of the highlights of the school."


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