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New University of Minnesota recreation center focuses on daylighting

New University of Minnesota recreation center focuses on daylighting

The University of Minnesota recently opened its expanded Recreation and Wellness Center. The new facility provides spaces for students and staff to recreate, exercise, and socialize, while enjoying sweeping views of the school’s urban campus.

The $59.7 million, 150,000-square foot addition doubled the size of the existing facility. Created by Studio Five Architects of Minneapolis, in collaboration with the Chicago office of Cannon Design, the building’s wedge-shaped design makes the most of the space’s compact triangular site. The design also includes a façade of brick, limestone and generous amounts of glass to provide natural light to the building users and continuity to the larger University of Minnesota campus.

To accomplish the design and daylighting goals, Minneapolis-based general contractor JE Dunn Construction worked closely with glazing contractor W. L. Hall Company of Hopkins, Minn. The building’s multi-radius curved front is composed of Wausau’s curtainwall and windows, allowing natural light into all five stories of the building’s interior spaces, according to a press release from Wausau. The recreation center’s entry level also features a gradual stepping-up of the floor to allow daylight to reach as far as possible into the lower levels.

In total, the space features 42,000 square feet of the curtainwall system and sunshades across three of the building’s four façades. The exterior sunshades also add to energy efficiencies by intercepting unwanted solar heat gain before it can impact the load on the building’s HVAC system, Wasau said. Sunshades economize natural light by redirecting further into a building’s interior spaces.

Located on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank Campus, the Recreation and Wellness Center serves more than 6,000 people on an average weekday during the academic year. The student recreation center expansion includes fitness areas for cardio and weight training; locker rooms; a climbing wall; a variety of multipurpose rooms for yoga, spinning, exercise classes and meetings; an indoor running track; a super mac gymnasium for indoor soccer, field hockey and other sports; an outdoor adventure center; administrative spaces and a cafe. The project also includes a two-story link from the existing recreation center to the new addition.

Construction on the project began in spring 2011 and was completed in time to welcome students for the 2013-14 academic year.


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