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Award Winner - May 2013

California Polytechnic State University, Recreation Center

San Luis Obispo, California






S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Cannon Design in Los Angeles

Size: 165,000 square feet

Project Cost: $57 million

Quick Tour:

  • Basketball courts
  • Multiuse activity court
  • Fitness center
  • Exercise room
  • Climbing/bouldering wall
  • Office space
  • Volleyball courts
  • Badminton courts
  • Running track
  • Sand volleyball courts
  • 50-meter swimming pool
  • Leisure swimming pool
  • Lockers/showers
  • Outdoor Recreation Equipment Center
  • Indoor soccer
  • Fitness studios

The Students at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., have everything they need with the creation of the school's new 165,000-square-foot recreation center.

The support and input from university students as well as their participation in the final design and approval helped bring the new center to life, with the goal of boosting recreation programs and helping to maximize views into the building. The project team also worked closely with the university's recreation, athletics, Kinesiology and various academic departments to help create the new center.

Considered a key element in the recruitment and retention of future students at the university, the new $57 million facility is a revamp of the former recreation center. It offers a two-court gymnasium, a one-court multiuse activity court (MAC), racquetball courts, a 20,000-square-foot exercise space, basketball courts, badminton courts, administrative offices and a running track that encircles the two-court gym. Outside the center, students can take advantage of a climbing wall and large swimming pool, as well as volleyball and tennis courts. The facility also features lockers and showers, indoor soccer and fitness studios.

From the time the new recreation center first opened in early 2012, it has been popular among students, with participation growing progressively. On average, 4,000 students go to the center each weekday and 2,000 on the weekend, which represents a big jump compared with the previous facility that attracted 2,500 on each weekday and 1,200 on the weekend.

Meanwhile, project innovations include the use of aluminum roofing panels that emulate the silhouette of the neighboring Central Coast Mountains; as well as the use of perforated metal decking as a structural component that works with the acoustical finish ceiling to make the best use of the volume of the facility.

Other aesthetic elements include large glazed areas that light up the building in the evening as a hub of activity and maximize the use of glare-free natural light throughout the building. Meanwhile, visibility and access to outdoor activities, including an existing swimming pool, are enhanced.


In regards to sustainability, the recreation center is designed to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver and incorporates multiple sustainable strategies—including adjacency to public transportation and bike routes, indirect-direct evaporative-cooling, water savings strategies, and sustainable curtainwall glazing that reduces the need for artificial lighting. Through the design, the open space that's available for program functions is greater than the building's actual footprint.




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

"What is most striking about this facility is the very effective use of shaded glazing to produce a wonderful quality of natural light in the building."

Greg Houston

"Architecturally a very nice complex with bold roof forms that unify the large enclosures. The interior spaces are punctuated with elegant and sometimes bold colors that provide a rich backdrop to the activity occurring within."

Bill Massey

"Exciting facility with loads of indoor and outdoor active recreation program spaces. Tremendous quality and spacious interior environments. Curved roofs offer a sense of playfulness and energy expressed throughout."

Troy Sherrard

"Bold and dramatic integration of roof forms and glazings, which is elegantly reflected within the interior."

Tom Poulos



A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Civil Engineer: Cannon Corp.

Landscape Architect: Carter Romanek Landscape Architects

Structural Engineer: Saiful Bouquet

MEP Engineer: P2S Engineering

Sustainability Consultant: Simon and Associates

Aquatic Consultant: Counsilman/Hunsaker

Cost Consultant: Davis Langdon

Construction Manager: Sundt Construction



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