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A new state-of-the-art facility replaces PSU Behrend’s outdated recreation center and provides a central location for the campus’ wellness needs

Penn State Behrend Erie Hall Recreation and Wellness Center

Penn State Behrend
Erie, PA
53,000 SF
Weber Murphy Fox
LEED Silver certified
Completed 2023
NIRSA Outstanding Facilities Awards, Recipient

Sasaki, in collaboration with Weber Murphy Fox, worked with Penn State to create a dynamic recreation and wellness facility on their Behrend campus. The new building creates a campus gateway that will be the cornerstone of a future campus green while simultaneously meeting the recreation and wellness needs of the student body.

The program is organized into neighborhoods, designed to make the spaces feel accessible to students at all fitness levels. These spaces include fitness zones, group exercise rooms, a dedicated spin room, coaches offices, a two-mat wrestling room, locker rooms, and a three-court gym. Additionally, the facility houses the counseling and wellness programs that serve the entire Behrend campus community.

Upholding campus identity through location and materiality

The new building replaces the existing Erie Hall which was the college’s original gymnasium. To ensure that it will support long-term campus growth, Sasaki’s site team developed a district master plan that creates a gateway presence for the new building on the Behrend campus.

During the early design process, the firm undertook a district planning effort to understand how the new building should be located within a larger campus student life precinct. This included the introduction of a new campus green that connected an expanded student center to the new recreation and wellness facility. Now that the recreation facility is complete, the planning study will serve as a framework for future development in this campus region.

The project’s carefully crafted material palette consists of stone, fiber cement panels, and a wood-look metal panel soffit system. The panels were selected due to their proven resistance to the elements and were specified with different sizes and finishes to break down the scale of the large gym massing. Local limestone in a signature “Penn State blend” contextualized the new facility within the local campus vernacular.

Building Organization

The design utilizes the site’s steep slope, burying programs which did not require natural daylight within the hillside. A dynamic, undulating canopy on the south facade creates an overhang, protecting the facility’s main fitness areas from direct sun, causing a seamless connection to a wooded area adjacent to the building. This connector will give thousands of students visual access to the activities happening within the building, advertising the value of health and wellness to all who travel through the facility.

Fitness neighborhoods throughout range in character from private to more public to make all feel welcome, no matter their level of fitness. In addition, the design team located the personal counseling center in a visible portion of the facility, on the southeast corner, while maintaining privacy needed within those spaces.

Since opening, Erie Hall has averaged 700 users per day, nearly a third of the campus undergraduate enrollment. In the first week of the fall semester alone, the facility saw over 5,000 swipes. Similarly, since the Counseling Center has relocated to the new facility, counseling visits within the Behrend population have doubled, and the department is already looking at expanding programming further.

想了解更多项目细节,请联系 Bill Massey.

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