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A bold transformation of an outdated campus facility creates a welcoming and dynamic destination for recreation and wellness

UMBC Retriever Activities Center Renewal

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD
134,000 SF
Marshall Craft Associates
Matthew Arielly
Additional Services
Interior Design
Completed August 2021
NIRSA Outstanding Facilities Awards, Recipient

The newly renovated Retriever Activites Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County engages students, faculty and staff through new programs and activities with a focus on fitness and wellness.

One of the primary goals of the UMBC Strategic Plan is to “create vibrant, exceptional, and comprehensive undergraduate and graduate student experiences that integrate in- and out-of-classroom learning to prepare graduates for meaningful careers and civic and personal lives.” The transformation of the RAC is exemplary of these goals.

This renewal project has had a dramatic effect on campus life.  The facility brings an exponential increase in fitness and wellness options for the greater UMBC community, with more than 20,000 sq ft of expanded fitness space. Working within the footprint of the existing building, creative insertions and repurposed, reimagined spaces have created a wide range of equipment, fitness and recreation options.

People simply want to be at the RAC, as it has gone from a dark and confusing space to a welcoming destination with vibrant pockets of activity. The use of color, daylight, visibility and transparency have raised the comfort level of students and users, who are excited to be there and explore fitness and wellness opportunities in a facility that also provides the student body with a common meeting place for commuters and on-campus students.

While 75% of the budget went to MEP improvements, the impact from the remaining funds to the building and its function is substantial. While the program and planning of the building was dramatic in its approach to fitness and wellness, the actual project went far beyond, leading to a dramatic increase in diverse programming, flow, and functional usage. With a wide range of spaces at different scales, the experience of students and staff and the way people can experience exercise is maximized.

The design team focused on selecting material finishes with low VOCs and Environmental Product Declarations, and a combination of new lighting and natural daylighting throughout the building enhances the overall experience of the RAC.

For more information contact Bill Massey.

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