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Award Winner - May 2013

Iowa State University State Gym

Ames, Iowa






S U B M I T T E D    B Y

RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines, Iowa

Size: 165,514 square feet

Project Cost: $46.2 million

Quick Tour:

  • 3-court gymnasium
  • Aquatic facilities/recreation pool
  • 25-person spa
  • 40-foot climbing wall
  • 13-foot bouldering wall
  • Locker rooms
  • Multipurpose activity rooms
  • 1/8-mile jogging/walking track
  • Cardio/strength equipment
  • Froots (smoothies, salads and wraps)
  • 2-court gymnasium
  • Spinning/cycling room
  • Strength training
  • Recreation Services admin offices
  • Fitness & wellness suite
  • Outdoor recreation program
  • 1/12-mile jogging/walking track
  • Skywalk with fitness equipment
  • Renovated locker rooms
  • Control desk

A student-led referendum to expand and improve recreation facilities on campus at Iowa State University paved the way for the expansion and renovation of the school's State Gym, a 165,514-square-foot facility that links two existing recreation buildings into one complete complex.

The $46.2 million project involved the overhaul of the State Gym with an addition that connects both the gym and Beyer Hall into one cohesive recreation and wellness complex. Moreover, the State Gym's enhancement provides a complementary recreation and wellness facility to the Lied Recreation Athletic Center, which is located on the opposite side of the campus.

Creating the connection between State Gym and Beyer Hall eliminated multiple entrances and put the focus on providing a point of control. However, because of the nature of outside activities, university classes and competitive swimming requiring access to Beyer Hall, it was impossible to provide one single control entry point to the new complex. So, only two are required now. Both of the controlled entrances provide access to the recreation and wellness center.

The State Gym's addition comprises a three-court gymnasium, aquatic facilities/recreation pool, 25-person spa, 40-foot rock climbing wall, 13-foot bouldering wall, locker rooms, multipurpose activity rooms, a 1/8-mile jogging/ walking track, cardio/strength equipment, and a foodservice element called Froots that offers fresh smoothies, salads and wraps. Additionally, the State Gym's renovation comprises a two-court gymnasium, dedicated spinning/cycling room, strength equipment, recreation services administrative offices, fitness and wellness suite, outdoor recreation program, 1/12-mile jogging/walking track and a skywalk featuring elliptical trainings, connecting the State Gym and Beyer Hall.

Materials that were used to build the complex include red brick masonry, limestone, transparent and translucent glazing, and pre-finished metal panels and concrete surfaces complementing the surrounding building material palettes.

Other elements of the renovation and expansion include triple glazing at the skybridge; integrated artwork; existing basketball court flooring repurposed into new millwork; extensive use of daylighting to reduce electrical demands for artificial light; low E glass, fritted in locations to further reduce west and south sun exposure; insulated, translucent polycarbonate panels to provide north light to the natatorium while diffusing views into the space; radiant heated deck in the natatorium; and radiant heating ceiling panels in the main circulation corridor. The locker rooms serve as a tornado shelter for the building.

The project was awarded LEED Platinum certification by the USGBC and incorporates sustainable features, including: low-flow water fixtures in conjunction with a rainwater harvest system to reduce potable water use by almost 50 percent. Combined, these strategies conserve about 2 million gallons of water a year; a 10,000-square-foot vegetated roof system that functions as part of the project's stormwater management strategy, as well as adding an aesthetically pleasing feature to the campus. Energy reduction of 38 percent better than Code amounts to about $82,000 a year in energy savings. A comprehensive construction waste management plan diverted more than 85 percent of the project's construction waste from the landfill, amounting to about 1,500 tons. The existing basketball court avoided being demolished, with wood planks refinished and repurposed as millwork in the new addition.

The effort to enhance recreation facilities on campus has paid off, as the response to the new complex has been encouraging. For example, during January 2012, the month in which the complex officially opened, there were 70,297 swiped entries. Later in the spring, there were 189,082 swiped entries for Lied and 301,533 total swipes for State Gym, which represents a 70 percent usage rate by the student body enrollment (28,080). In addition, recreation services increased offerings of group exercise classes by more than 50 percent—going from more than 50 classes per week to more than 100 classes per week.




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

"This building does a great job of hitting all the marks—nice attention to interior spaces, daylighting, finishes and lighting. The circulation strategy is clear and elegant with a nicely achieved connection to all three facilities. The exterior is handsome with a nice balance of materials."

Bill Massey

"A very efficient and well-composed plan and exterior form which works seamlessly with the existing facilities. A terrific composition of spaces."

Greg Houston

"Timeless and sophisticated use of daylighting, building details and connections to the outdoors—very well executed. LEED Platinum certification is a powerful statement and puts this facility over the top!"

Troy Sherrard

"The floor plan is driven by the views to the mountains. Organization works well in capturing these views and creating openness throughout the plans."

Reed Voorhees



A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Architect of Record: RDG Planning & Design

Landscape Architect: RDG Planning & Design

Lighting Designer: RDG Planning & Design

Aquatic Design: Counsilman/Hunsaker

Structural Engineer: Charles Saul Engineering Inc.

MEP Engineer: Henneman Engineering



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