Location117 Maritime Academy Dr, Vallejo, CA 94590, United States
Project TeamBryan Shiles, John Ruffo, Mitch Fine, Ed Kim, Eileen Ong, Sonja O’Claire, Annelise DeVore, Sonja O Claire and Claire Axley
ConsultantsForrell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc., Interface Engineering, Sandis, Meyer Silberberg Landscape Architects, Charles M. Salter Associates, Shalleck Collaborative, SportsPLAN Studio, Water Design Inc., Richard C. Hubble; Cummings
Text description provided by the architects. As the only degree-granting maritime academy on the Pacific Ocean, California State University Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime) is known for cultivating leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators within the global maritime profession. With a competition-level NCAA gymnasium, ample training and fitness areas, and a 50-meter pool, the Recreation and Aquatic Center serves as the primary recreation and sports outlet for the Academy’s 1200 cadets.
Visible from Interstate 80, which connects the San Francisco Bay Area with Sacramento, this new public face and memorable campus gateway evokes maritime references, and specifically the campus’s training ship, the Golden Bear, while avoiding trivialization. A brick base provides continuity with the historic building material of the campus.
Organized to be welcoming and easily accessible by both cadets and visitors, the main entry is a trellis-covered courtyard leading to the pool deck and the Center. Physical therapy, strength and conditioning areas, and locker rooms surround the entry and knot the two distinct programmatic volumes together. The multipurpose room, a double height space which allows for volleyball and basketball use, is located on the east edge of the facility and acts as a sentinel.
Wrapped in channel glass, the multipurpose room features diffused soft natural light, gaining additional significance at night as a glowing lantern. The other segment, a competition-level NCAA gymnasium, is offset from the multi-purpose to create a welcoming entry gesture for the campus.
Designed for multiple uses, the 50-meter pool accommodates competitive level swimming, water sports, and recreational use, and it is equipped with a wave machine to simulate storm conditions for coast guard training. To provide a sense of enclosure and protection from the wind it is surrounded by walls and secure fencing.
Utility infrastructure and foundations have been provided in anticipation for a future enclosure to be constructed at the University’s discretion. With its high visibility and gateway location, the Recreation and Aquatic Center marks Cal Maritime as a place of distinction within the broader landscape of maritime education.