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The Pennsylvania State University

Intramural Recreation Building

Project Description

Design for the expansion and renovation of Penn State’s Intramural Building began with a master plan to be implemented in three phases, with funding in place for Phase 1. This phase places a major expansion in front of the current facility, allowing the addition to solve a pre-existing design flaw: a very long, blank façade in a high profile campus location. Behind this blank façade sits an active building—hidden from view. The design solution addresses this issue with a new glass façade that reveals the building and activities within and provides natural daylight throughout. Placing the addition in front not only improves the building identity, but also conserves an existing playing field behind. Later phases will wrap around an additional side of the structure bringing in more visibility and light.

Project Stats


State College, Pa.


Honorable Mention, Learning By Design

Year of Completion


Project Gallery

The Process

The plan of the addition is open and inviting and creates a dynamic and energizing atmosphere that reflects the active program of the building. After exploring many design options, a concept emerged of two crisscrossing forms, or angled wings, placed in front of the existing structure and overlapping at the entry point. One wing angles towards a new campus gateway with a view of the Mt. Nittany in the distance, and one angles towards the main campus. At their intersection is the building entrance off of an open air atrium recessed into the building form and extending through each floor. The slanted nature of the building form allows the building to gracefully pull itself off the main street and provide an engaging pedestrian oriented plaza and helps establish clear wayfinding.

Given a program centered on fitness, wellness and exercise, Moody Nolan sought to maximize fresh air movement—allowing the facility to “breathe” naturally. The main entry atrium, initially envisioned as a shaded “micro-climate,” allows the ventilation system to draw cooler outdoor air through the facility on ideal spring and fall days. This connects users with the environment and saves energy.