University of Iowa Recreation Building Renovation

Location
Iowa City, Iowa
Year
2009
Sizes
Renovation:
21,375 SF
Addition:
8,000 SF

Client
University of Iowa

Project Team
Tim Hickman

University of Iowa Recreation Building Renovation – Substance Architecture
University of Iowa Recreation Building Renovation – Substance Architecture

University of Iowa Recreation Building Renovation

The University of Iowa faced a significant challenge with the lower level of its Recreation Building. The fragmented and outdated space was in rough shape: no daylight, painted concrete walls, and a mildew smell that was anything but welcoming. Substance Architecture was asked to renovate it to provide modern and inspiring locker rooms, athletic training, and strength training spaces for four University of Iowa athletic teams. The challenge was to do so while managing the constraints of a tight budget and limited access to natural light. The dark and disorienting space was transformed with the addition of windows and a reconfigured stairway which expanded the cramped entry into a new two-story space filled with light.

A shared space for strength and conditioning was created with a glass wall that fronts this space. Wood ceiling and wall panels were strategically designed to conceal mechanical units while emphasizing the entrances to team spaces. Burnished concrete block and terrazzo stair treads added a touch of sophistication, elevating the space from its former mundane state. 

By opening up areas to the concrete deck above, the architects maximized ceiling heights, enhancing the sense of openness. These comprehensive improvements have not only modernized the training facilities but also elevated the overall experience for student-athletes, rendering it a state-of-the-art hub for athletic excellence.

Location
Iowa City, Iowa
Year
2009
Sizes
Renovation:
21,375 SF
Addition:
8,000 SF

Client
University of Iowa

Project Team
Tim Hickman

Achieving Quality with Constraints

Working with a restrictive budget, the design team employed strategic choices to maximize the impact of each element. The terrazzo stair treads, for instance, linked the renovated space from the entry to the lower levels, creating a seamless transition. The choice of materials like burnished concrete block and wood panels offered cost-effectiveness without sacrificing the space's refreshed and modern look.

Elevating Functional Design

A key challenge was concealing extensive mechanical equipment without compromising aesthetics. The solution: creatively designed wood ceiling and wall panels that align with locker room entrances, offering a dual purpose of hiding the mechanical units and emphasizing space entrances. The rawness of the open concrete deck was painted to maximize perceived ceiling heights, adding to the spacious feel. The use of burnished concrete blocks and terrazzo stair treads elevated the space, giving it a refined yet practical appeal.

University of Iowa Recreation Building Renovation – Substance Architecture

Axonometric diagram

Consultants

MEPT Engineer
Alvine Engineering
Structural Engineer
Shuck-Britson, Inc.
Civil Engineer
Snyder & Associates, Inc.
Cost Consultant
CPMI

Photography by Paul Crosby Architectural Photography