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A new gateway to ASU's campus emerges from a fitness center's renovation and expansion

Arizona State University Sun Devil Fitness Complex

Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ
93,000 SF New; 20,135 SF Renovation
Studio MA, Architect of Record
©Timmerman Photography
Additional Services
Interior Design
Landscape Architecture
Completed 2013
American Institute of Architects Arizona Design Awards, Distinguished Building – Citation Award
Athletic Business Magazine, Facility of Merit

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex renovation and expansion provides extensive new student recreation and social space while creating a new gateway into Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. Located adjacent to the existing student recreation building, the expansion includes five new basketball courts, a fitness center, wellness center, lounge and gaming areas, and a multi-activity court (MAC) for indoor soccer and field hockey. Student input during the programming phase emphasized the desire for an active, dynamic facility enhancing the university’s goals for wellness and community-focused campus life.

Planned on the grid of a pre-war suburban neighborhood, the ASU campus has grown increasingly dense and urban over time to the point where new buildings must develop vertically to preserve open space for shade plantings and retention basins. This became evident in early planning stages for the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, where the limitations of the site area required that three of the six courts be located on the second level over the lower volume of the remaining courts and fitness area, thereby completing the south facing court around the large swimming pool and deck area. In direct response to crucial programming sessions with the university, the design embodies campus planning goals to increase open space, to establish a prominent presence along the southern edge of the campus, to provide a visual transition to the multi-story student residences to the south and east, and to create an open inviting vision into the campus from the surrounding community. The stepped and cantilevered building mass and carefully located openings create a successful gateway into the heart of ASU’s campus.

By stacking the building forms, the design team created unique views and vantage points to and from the surrounding campus. Three of the five basketball courts are located on the second floor with large windows providing views of ASU. The MAC gym has floor-to-ceiling glass windows opening views to an adjacent campus roadway. An outdoor passageway under the second floor gyms provides a gateway for students entering the campus from the south. The tapered building mass is animated through implicit shifts and folds. Undercut masses provide shading and protect the internal playing surfaces from the effects of direct sunlight and glare.

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex is a highly visible facility where students inside and outside can view the activities happening around them. This interconnectedness also helped meet the user group’s desire to enhance student life and build a sense of campus community. The facility is designed so only two additional staff are needed for building supervision and operation despite nearly doubling the total program area. Additionally, maintaining and renovating the existing main entry was crucial for the directors to not only avoid additional staff and security, but to retain the prominent termination of a main pedestrian mall on campus.

The facility incorporates a wide variety of energy saving and sustainable design features and is on track to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. Heat transmission through walls is reduced through the use of a cement panel rain screen system and continuous exterior insulation layer, combined with heavily insulated double walled spaces (used for storage and duct chases) along the east and west faces of the building. Further energy reductions were achieved through the addition of solar thermal collectors on the roof of the existing building, which generates a significant amount of chilled water through a new absorption chiller and uses the large pool as a heat sink. A 280 kilowatt photovoltaic array is also located on the expansive roof of the expansion building. All the surface water runoff for the project is contained within the site through the incorporation of underground storage tanks and large retention basins in the surrounding desert landscape.

This project was a collaboration of Studio Ma + Sasaki.

For more information contact Fiske Crowell.

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