CSUN’s Student Rec Center Receives Architectural Honors

CSUN's Student Recreation Center.

CSUN’s Student Recreation Center. Photo by Lee Choo

The Student Recreation Center at California State University, Northridge has garnered another award for its innovative design, this time from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The AIA’s Committee on Architecture for Education has voted to award CSUN’s recreation center its prestigious Education Facility Design Award at its national convention in June. This is the eighth architectural design award the center has received since it opened last year.

“This is really an amazing honor,” said Debra Hammond, executive director of the University Student Union (USU), which oversees the rec center. “The building is not only beautiful, but it has exceeded our expectations—especially because of its positive impact on our campus community.”

Hammond applauded the architectural design firm, LPA, Inc., which designed the facility based on input from CSUN students.

“We continue to be grateful that we chose LPA to work with us on the Student Recreation Center,” she said.

The AIA Committee on Architecture for Education considered specific criteria as its members reviewed nominations for the award: demonstration of excellence in architectural design; enhancement of the facility’s educational program through thoughtful design; integration of the local environment as an integral part of the design and learning experience; integration of function and aesthetics in the design; understanding the social and emotional needs of those using the space and the corresponding physical spaces; a planning/design process that is educational, collaborative and builds the capacity of the school and its community to support its students; and an understanding of the connection between the built and natural environment.

“It’s amazing that the recreation center won this national award,” said the center’s director Jimmy Francis. “Architectural design firm LPA Inc., the project team from CSUN and the USU did an exceptional job balancing function, form and sustainability in the design and construction of the facility.

“I’ve had a chance to visit numerous campus recreation facilities throughout my career,” Francis continued. “CSUN’s Student Recreation Center ranks among the best in regard to interesting design features and green building initiatives.”

The Student Recreation Center was built with the idea of promoting health and wellness among students and the broader CSUN community. Students and university officials also were determined that the facility would be an environmentally friendly building.

The center contains two activity courts for multiple sports, three different fitness zones equipped with a variety of equipment, an indoor jogging track and a rock climbing wall. An outdoor artificial turf field opened earlier this year.

Among its many environmentally friendly features are the two-story center’s incorporation of dozens of rooftop Solatubes so that traditional lighting is not used as frequently as in conventionally built buildings. As the sun moves across the sky, the Solatubes pick up the natural light and diffuse it back into the facility, helping to illuminate the mezzanine level of the center. Additionally, the solar panels convert light from the sun into clean electricity. Inside, 20 ReRev elliptical machines convert kinetic energy from a workout into renewable energy.

CSUN’s Student Recreation Center received a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold status, which is an international rating method that provides standards for environmentally conscious buildings and facilities, in October of last year.