Executive Summary

Correlation to the Campus Master Plan and Mission

In January 2017, the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees approved a plan to build a 101,000 SF recreation center through a public-private partnership with the JSU Foundation. Utilizing the Construction Manager at Risk project delivery method, construction was completed within 16 months and under budget. 

Construction of JSU’s Recreation and Fitness Center was in response to JSU’s mission to enhance the quality of campus life and to increase student retention and enrollment. Specifically, the facility would activate campus life and engage students in on-campus programming.  Since opening, students use the facility between classes and participate in programs and services offered at night and on the weekend.  It is a destination for commuter students.

To align with the campus master plan, the architectural design by Moody Nolan needed to create a ‘wow factor’ while blending with existing facilities. The building is expressed through a prominent peak emphasizing the climbing wall that aligns with a major pedestrian path from central campus connecting the new building to the rest of JSU. The scale, materiality, and rhythm of masonry wrappers resonate with the existing campus character. Brick patterns, reveals, and pre-cast elements pick up on the campus’ contextual details. The roof’s metal coping references traditional slate tiles, consistent across JSU.

Intended and Actual Impact to Our Recreation Program

The Recreation and Fitness Center was designed to encourage enrollment, broaden participation in on-campus activities by supporting diverse programming, function as a student-centered hub, offer co-curricular employment, and foster community participation on-campus.

The building opened January 2019 and enrollment increased the next Fall Semester by 6%.  Fall 2019 first time freshman enrollment is the highest to date.

Fall 2017 Enrollment
Fall 2018 Enrollment
Fall 2019 Enrollment

Since opening, quarterly visits to the facility have essentially doubled and monthly visits months increased dramatically.  

Graph of facility visit increase

Fall Semester Facility Visit Comparison
2017 2018 2019
3,227 7,604 14,821
7,531 10,192 21,795
7,734 12,173 19,684

Campus participation expanded:

  • Over 6,000 unique students used the new facility since it opened in January 2019
  • 257 faculty/staff/retirees and 66 alumni hold memberships exceeding pro forma goals

Relationship Between Facility Design and Staffing

Positions were added to appropriately staff and program new facility features – pools, climbing wall, adventure recreation center, and wellness suite. Part-time employees grew from 50 to nearly 130.

Professional staff grew from 3 to 10 to support growth of programs JSU prioritized. Office design matched staffing needs. Conference, meeting and workrooms were incorporated to encourage collaboration and student learning.

Unique Aesthetic or Architectural Design Features

Upon entering, guests find themselves in a Lobby/Social Lounge Area, with full views to the Climbing Wall, High Energy Studio and Running Track overhead. The building’s lobby divides into two wings, which lift to reveal active interior spaces, such as the Fitness Area, Multipurpose Rooms, and Track. Open corners allow views of the surrounding Appalachian foothills. The two-story portion reveals the dramatic ‘winged’ ceiling treatment of the second level and is open to the sounds and sites of the surrounding Fitness venues.

At over 43’, the tallest hybrid climbing and bouldering wall in Alabama at a student recreation facility is the dominant presence in the building entrance. The wall features walk up access to top management sites. The face of the wall incorporates natural features based on local outdoor climbing areas.

Custom graphics enhance the building interior. The unique basketball court stain design, custom Gamecock graphics, and a map of the surrounding wilderness add depth and excitement while strengthening the JSU brand.

Facility Functionality

Facility function was customized for JSU’s specific goals. Flexible and multi-purpose social and event space was a requirement that is evidenced throughout the design.

The Lobby leads into the Social Lounge, which combines a Starbucks, study nooks, group seating and gaming into a varied and flexible student-focused space. The Studio’s operable wall allows the room to alternate between a fitness space and extension of the social core.

In the front of the building, the landscape design incorporates seating and gathering areas that extend the Lobby’s active, social space from interior to exterior.

The MAC court features a 20 ft drop down screen, overhead projector, and Bluetooth sound system designed for events and presentations.

Roll up garage doors were added to the adventure rec center and main gym storage to ease access for vendor deliveries and member’s renting equipment. Power supply was housed in knee walls to mitigate risk. Workout pockets were captured around the indoor track to maximize useable, open-ended space.

Innovative Construction Materials or Methods

This is the first project in Alabama to utilize the Construction Manager at Risk project delivery method.

This is the second collegiate student recreation facility in the country ever built under a public-private partnership (P3) structure.

Sustainable / Green Features / LEED Rating

The facility was fully commissioned and building systems include sustainable / green features:

  • Early schematic design energy modelling utilized to maximize thermal efficiency and glare control.
  • The pool dehumidification unit is provided with heat recovery to use waste heat for pool water heating.
  • Condensing boilers provide a high efficiency heating hot water system.
  • LED lighting was used throughout.
  • Reduced lighting power density from code minimum 6% reduction.
  • Skylights utilized on basketball courts maximize natural light.
  • Building metering system provides total and individual electrical load usage for understanding of the electrical load for lighting, receptacle, HVAC, and pool.

Use of Technology and How it Benefits the Customer, Staff, and/or Budget

iPads and marketing screens were incorporated throughout to communicate activity area schedules and promote programs. 

Studios incorporate up and down lighting which operate independently to accommodate different activity needs. Up lighting features an option for color selection which creates a custom workout experience. 

Security cameras covering interior and exterior views can be viewed on professional staff computers and by university police to optimize monitoring capabilities.

The building management systems software controls all HVAC, dehumidifier, and lighting controls facility wide. The system is programmed based on usage and time of day to conserve energy.