Text description provided by the architects. The Missouri State University (MSU) Bill R. Foster and Family Recreation Center is conceived as a crystalline, geologic form in the campus landscape. The chiseled stone mass is fractured by a new pedestrian campus passage that brings students to the entrance and center of the building, and on to other campus destinations beyond. The stone shell – referencing the historic stone buildings that define the MSU campus – is cut away to reveal a cool metal and glass interior, exposing the activities of recreation. The path’s subtle rise and fall allows pool and locker functions to slip below the walk on the lower level, while the jogging track loops above providing cover to students passing through the building. Inside, occupants are continually reconnected to campus through carefully measured cuts and apertures, creating a degree of transparency not readily apparent in the building’s exterior.
Bringing together previously scattered recreational offerings to create a centralized and cohesive recreation program, the MSU center is located on a pivotal campus site between student life functions, the academic core, and other sports and recreation venues. The center’s defining feature – the column-free passageway connecting two campus precincts – creates a unique spatial experience that helped solve both planning and phasing challenges. Its spatial qualities contribute to the fluid experience of passing through the building.
The building’s exterior is comprised of custom cast stone panels, scaled to a monumental size appropriate to the building’s size and colored to accompany the campus limestone architecture. In-grade linear LED lights line the pedestrian path that cuts through the building. The building’s interior is defined by a dynamic palette that complements the university’s colors, with coordinating accents applied in glazing, flooring and other materials.
The recreational program elements include a 3-court gymnasium, one with a multi-use play surface, 18,000 sf of weight fitness and cardio space; an indoor jogging track; a natatorium with both leisure water, lap lanes, and an outdoor deck; multi-purpose rooms for wellness activities; a climbing wall; and other support spaces, including locker rooms and administrative space. The building responds to increased student demand for enhanced recreational programming, and MSU student leaders and groups were integrated into the entire design process.