Room for Recreation
Student Recreation Center at California State University, Fresno
When the new Student Recreation Center at Fresno State opened, it created more space for recreation on campus and opened the door to student social activity and fitness opportunities.
"It's really a new front door for the campus," said Don Dethlefs, principal in charge of the project for Sink Combs Dethlefs, a Denver-based architectural firm. "The new arena pulled a lot of the public to that new corner of the campus, and now the new rec center brings the students there, too."
The plan was designed with the stucco vernacular used on a number of the original campus buildings, and in an architectural style that is obviously heavily influenced by the Spanish Mission style found throughout California.
But it's what's inside that really impresses.
"Fresno State had a couple of older gyms that were shared for kinesiology and athletics, and very little time for recreation," said Derek Walters, director of the center. "Just having a dedicated facility for student recreation has been a great benefit."
The new 92,000-square-foot recreation center is light and open throughout, but the highlight of the facility is the 16,000-square-foot atrium space. With its exposed structure, 55-foot-high ceilings and clerestory windows, this central space provides a spacious and bright fitness area that welcomes students from the moment they walk through the doors.
"One of the nice things in the design of the building is the openness—especially in what I call the crown jewel of the center, the fitness center with its high ceiling and skylights," Walters explained. "It's got that open feel, and it's nice and bright. That adds a lot to it being inviting."
In addition to the fitness atrium space, the lower level of the facility includes two racquetball courts, an aerobics/dance studio, a four-court gymnasium, shower and locker rooms and multipurpose/meeting rooms.
"Each basketball court can also be set up for volleyball, and on two of the courts we can make six badminton courts, so that gets used heavily on the weekends by international students," Walters said. "So we've gone from hardly anything to something for everyone."
Walters said that the rec center also offers more than 30 classes a week in its group fitness studio. And as proof that facilities sometimes must adapt to changing conditions, an area on the north side of the elevated track that was originally planned as a stretching area has been adapted for Spinning classes.
"Because all the classes are in that one room, it was becoming a nightmare to move bikes back and forth, so we've moved our Spinning classes up there," Walters said. "You see the activity, and people are running and playing basketball."
The facility also houses the Peters' Educational Center, a 300-seat multipurpose, state-of-the-art auditorium, and the Lyle's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 8,400 square feet of resources for entrepreneurs, inventors and those seeking to build their businesses.
"Those are uses you don't usually put in a collegiate recreation center, but it enhances the service-to-the-student aspect of the building, which is really what we wanted to do," Dethlefs said.
The center is exceeding all expectations and has rapidly become the new social center on campus. It just goes to show that if you open the front door to improved spaces for recreation, the students will walk in and make themselves at home.