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University of Illinois at Chicago

Sports and Fitness Facility

Project Description

Adding to this existing campus recreation center required a unique design solution in response to site constraints and an original design that provided access into the building only through underground corridors from two adjacent buildings. The design challenge was to provide the facility with its own point of on-grade entry as well as increase the overall space by approximately 18,000 sq. ft.

Project Stats


Chicago, Ill.

Square Footage


Design Award

Innovative Architecture and Design Award, Recreation Management

Project Gallery

The Process

The existing center housed a two-court gymnasium with a track above and around the perimeter, three racquetball courts, fitness space, a lap pool, administrative suite, locker rooms and mechanical spaces. These spaces underwent various amounts of renovation with the most extensive renovation occurring in the locker rooms, circulation spaces and building mechanicals. The new construction included 8,000 sq. ft. of fitness space (tripling the existing amount), two large multipurpose rooms and a new entry and reception desk.

After extensive study, it was determined that the most viable solution was to build two new floors above the existing pool. The footprint- resulting from this vertical addition was not large enough to accommodate the new program area. Therefore, the design cantilevered the second floor out in three directions creating a “floating box.” Clad in glass and metal panels, this fitness space is its own advertisement, visible from anywhere in the quad. Conversely, students using the new fitness equipment enjoy sweeping views of the busy public outdoor spaces below. The floor is open and the space is generous creating a visually dynamic atmosphere.