Sasaki designed the 35,397-square-foot recreation and wellness center at University of California, Merced, which serves the entire community of students, faculty, and staff. The building occupies a key transitional site on the new campus, situated between the academic core and the residential precinct. In response, the building is set back from the street, creating an arrival plaza and preserving views. Rather than a discreet series of individual rooms, spaces flow together, creating an engaging, participatory user experience while providing flexibility for future use.
The center's highly active programmatic elements—the cardio and weight training room, the multipurpose room, and the gymnasium—are organized around a central core of support spaces. These active spaces are located in highly visible areas of the building, enhanced by liberal use of glass. The resulting transparency contributes to a more meaningful connection to the exterior landscape gardens outside, as well as to the campus as a whole. The plaza serves as a stop for the parking lot shuttle, providing a gateway presence to the pedestrian nature of Main Street along the academic core.