The Recreation and Wellness Center will serve as a catalyst to connect the lower portions of campus with the upper portions on the hilltop, eliminating the perceived divide between the two regions. Replacing the O’Hara Garage and Learning Research and Development (LRDC), the Recreation and Wellness Center integrates recreation, fitness, student life and academic spaces.
This project adds a mid-size venue that doubles as a 10,387-arena for DePaul University basketball to McCormick Place, the country’s largest convention center. The new event center is part of a redevelopment plan to transform the surrounding neighborhood into a vibrant entertainment district with new dining and entertainment venues, hotels and streetscapes. The building’s design is contemporary, but it grows from a study of the adjacent neighborhoods. Therefore, the arena has four “fronts” of varying transparency and a scale befitting the historic Prairie Avenue neighborhood.
In January 2017, the Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees approved a development plan to design and build a 103,000 sq. ft. recreation center with an aggressive timeline. By utilizing an integrated Construction Manager at Risk project delivery method, the project opened within 24 months and came in under budget.
Construction of JSU’s Recreation and Fitness Center was in direct response to JSU’s mission to enhance the quality of campus life and to increase student retention and enrollment which had been holding steady. Specifically, the facility was to activate campus social life, create a home for commuter students as well as engage students in on-campus fitness and wellness programming which is not as prevalent in the southern rural campus.
The facility opened January 2019 and enrollment increased the next Fall Semester by 6%. First time freshman enrollment in Fall 2019 is the highest to date. Since opening, quarterly visits to the rec center have essentially doubled and monthly visits increased dramatically. Most importantly, a majority of the student population now engages in fitness and wellness activities as part of their daily routine; which leads to long term healthy habits.