Project File: A fresh look

The 23,580-square-foot physical-education building at Raritan Valley Community College, North Branch, N.J., had unfinished concrete walls and ceilings that created reverberation levels so high that unintelligible sound was produced at athletic events. Dim lighting and bland architecture added to the unappealing environment.

The architect saw potential for the space itself to work as an architectural element. Using the ceiling's grid of concrete T-beams as a framework, the architect installed a series of bowed acoustical panels, wrapping their curved fiberglass forms in sailcloth over the gym and moisture-resistant PVC above the pool.

Ambient illumination was created with glass pendant fixtures. Accent lights were installed inside wall recesses, turning them into light wells. For the pool, in addition to pendants, the walkway was lined with lamps and the walls behind the bleachers with sconces. Translucent tubing was projected along an internal reflector to provide an even glow.

The floors were clad in a standard poured rubber ideal for basketball games, and the bleachers by the pool were epoxy-coated to prevent spectators from slipping.

The architect is Peter Johnston Architect, PC (Hoboken, N.J.).

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