California State University Student Recreation Center / Cannon Design

© Brad Feinknopf

Architects: Cannon Design
Location: Long Beach, , USA
Client: California State University, Long Beach
MEP Engineering: P2S Engineering
Civil Engineering: Breen Engineers
Landscape Engineers: Carter Romanek Landscape Architects
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 109,000 sqf
Photographs: Brad Feinknopf

Described by CSULB President, F. King Alexander as “The most significant building on campus since 1972,” the department of ASI Recreation now houses: Fitness, Intramural Sports, Aquatics, The Rock & Outdoor Adventures, Instructional Programming, Open Recreation and Adaptive Recreation. As one of the three largest universities nationwide absent a campus recreation center, the facility transforms the student experience at a major regional university in California. Arriving at the lobby across a large landscaped entry plaza with adjacent outdoor pool and deck, the major activity spaces are visible prior to entering. Adjacent to the entry, a café and lounge overlook the pool and ground floor activity spaces. Activity spaces are arranged on two floors on both sides of a grand circulation spine, from the building entry at the west end to the climbing/bouldering wall as a focal point to the east. Exercise equipment is distributed throughout the facility to promote integration and a variety of experiences.

© Brad Feinknopf

Located on the campus’ northeast edge, the site was established by the 2000 Master Plan as a gateway linking student life, parking and arrival with the main portion of the campus. The new site is bound by parking structures to the north, playing fields to the west, a sensitive neighborhood to the east and the core campus to the south. While the east-west orientation of the building provided opportunity for expansive north windows, CSULB’s president wanted to encourage views toward the west to open campus recreation space. The solution works to mitigate heat gain on the west with vertical sun shades while maximizing views.

© Brad Feinknopf

The design concept embodies the university’s tradition of mid-century modern architecture and landscape while furthering the goal of connecting indoor and outdoor spaces. Employing the campus vocabulary of brick and expressed structure, the facility is the first of a new generation of buildings more human in scale and still able to draw inspiration from the campus’ modernist roots. Light-colored metal panels and glass relate to the material palate of the campus, provide interpretation of the campus’ architectural heritage and help the facility fit the overall scale of the campus.

First Floor Plan

An interior “street” maximizes views of the building’s major components, including 20,000 sf of cardio/fitness areas, three-court gymnasium, two-court MAC, multipurpose rooms, two racquetball courts, wellness center, staff offices, and jogging track. Extensive natural light via windows and clerestories contribute to the transparency. High-activity spaces offer views of playing fields and entry plaza through broad expanses of windows transforming the building into an illuminated beacon at night.

© Brad Feinknopf

The University Motto “Go Beach” inspired colors and finishes. Blue rubber flooring on the main floor and tan athletic wood floors and stone tiles recall sand and water, while ceramic tiles and accent walls painted with reds and yellows represent the colors of a sunset on the upper level.

Second Floor Plan

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "California State University Student Recreation Center / Cannon Design" 28 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
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