Student Fitness + Recreation Facility



Normal, IL



Illinois State University



5.58 acres | 2.26 ha



180,000 sf | 16,720 sm



Student recreation center  and school of kinesiology







       (developed as the Design Director of Dewberry)



Higher Education / Recreation



Georgian Vocabulary Merges Into Modern Expression


Illinois State University (ISU), founded in 1857, is the oldest public university in Illinois and is located in Normal, Illinois.  With over 20,000 students, ISU has seen unprecedented growth and expansion in recent years.  As with other universities, student recreation has become a necessary recruitment tool for gaining new students.


The Department of Campus Recreation began operating out of McCormick Hall in the 1960s, providing recreation opportunities for the student population of Illinois State University.   In 2006, the University’s focus was to bring together Campus Recreation, Health Promotion and Wellness, and the School of Kinesiology and Recreation.


The integration of these various University programs creates a solution which extends McCormick Hall toward the west and creates a fusion between the past and the present.  Along the Main Street elevation this extrusion of the fitness ‘bridge’ punctuates the facade and continues its idiosyncratic dialogue east across University Avenue toward McCormick Hall.  It is the main organizing element that all other volumes relate to.    A new southern greenspace creates a dialogue with the neighboring student housing, giving the University flexibility for future developments and recreational uses.


At the southwest corner of the site, the building’s Georgian vocabulary breaks down and merges into an enhanced modern expression.  Extensive use of glass across the track, lobby, and fitness floor allows for maximum views into and out of the facility’s various program areas.  This strategy provides a connection to the newly formed outdoor space, while allowing students visual access into and across the various spaces of the facility.


This new Student Fitness and Kinesiology Recreation Building builds upon the past and provides new context where its users can improve their well-being, get physically fit and relax.  Its strategic design has enabled the University to further reinforce the importance that the University places on students’ well-being, and its holistic approach to achieving it.