The WELL, Sacramento State University

Sacramento, California

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Hornsberger + Worstell in San Francisco

Size: 151,000 square feet

Project Cost: $52 million

Quick Tour:

  • Health center
  • Pharmacy
  • Lab
  • Rock climbing walls
  • 4 basketball courts
  • MAC court
  • Indoor running track
  • Cardio suite
  • Exercise studios
  • Locker rooms

Unlike other campus recreation facilities, which focus on exercise and recreation alone, the new 151,000-square-foot WELL (Wellness, Education, Leisure, Lifestyle) center at California State University, Sacramento, has become the heart of student life. The facility combines vital aspects of student life, uniting fitness, recreation, outdoor adventures, medical care and social activity space under one roof.

The WELL provides whole-health care for 28,000 students and 3,400 faculty and staff through a broad spectrum of amenities and services, including a rock climbing wall, four basketball courts, a large multi-activity court for sports like indoor hockey or soccer, studios for cardio, weight training and exercise classes, a pharmacy, a lab, and health offices for physical therapy, nutrition, optometry and mental health. Offering a unique integration of services, The WELL reinforces prevention-oriented missions and encourages students to become active participants in their health.

Prior to the facility's opening in September 2010, Campus Recreation was overseen by two staff members and limited programs that supported 3,000 students per week. Now, Campus Recreation employs 15 and averages 2,300 student visits daily.

The facility is expected to achieve a LEED Gold rating, due to sustainable features including the use of FSC certified wood, incorporation of recycled materials, and the implementation of a landfill waste diversion program during construction. The gym's wall panels are made from sunflower seeds, and the lobby's flooring material is made from recycled glass bottles. The building is projected to use 23 percent less energy and 43 percent less water than a typical new building.

One of the most visible sustainable features is the building's entrance atrium. The skylight is made of an innovative thermoplastic material developed by NASA, which helps regulate building temperature while bathing the space in natural light. At night, this monumental, 40-foot-wide skylight emanates a soft light, serving as a beacon for the campus.

The atrium further serves as a radial passageway system that leads visitors in the right direction. Recreation spaces are programmed on one side of the building, with medical spaces on the other, making it simple for visitors to locate what they need.

Beyond the atrium, light continues as a theme throughout the building. The WELL's sweeping, largely transparent fašade reveals the activity and excitement of the building to the main quad. The 420-foot-long fašade provides a panoramic view of the active students within. The 90-machine cardio suite also connects to the exterior campus, with views in three directions.

Much of the light that enters the facility is brought in thanks to an innovative material that allowed the design team to avoid heavy traditional glass skylights. The thermoplastic material allowed for a series of project improvements, from reducing the structure of the building and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars, allowing for the addition of new spaces, higher quality finishes and more efficient building systems. For example, the area around the rock climbing wall originally required five trusses, but with the inclusion of Foiltec, the space only required three. Today, the completed space provides a unique sense of openness.

Cost savings also led to scope additions, including two racquetball courts and an exterior trellis, which contributes to a sense of arrival. Other improvements to the design plan included ceiling fans throughout the building, higher-quality flooring in the lobby and MAC court, and the inclusion of wood lockers in the changing areas.

Technology is also featured throughout the facility, from biometric finger vein readers when members enter the facility to digital displays that reduce the need for printed marketing materials.


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

"The incorporation of sustainable features such as the use of FSC certified wood, recycled materials and projected energy and water savings make this project stand out."

Steve Blackburn

"Nice placemaking insertion into the campus. …Good use of natural light components. Restrained palette of materials inside and out. Well done."

Daniel Heuberger

"Uniquely innovative design! Love the marriage of high-tech materials, green concepts and what appears to be a very nice and human-friendly scale. Beautiful plan and great context orientation on the site."

Rudy Fabiano

"The central atrium invokes the circular imagery of a well, one that might replenish your body and soul. Interesting imagery relative to the affects of recreation on your health and well-being."

Jeff Bartley

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Associate Architect: Ellerbe Becket

Interior Design: Phyllis Martin-Vegue & Carol Padham

General Contractor: McCarthy

Construction Manager: TMCS

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