UMSL Recreation and Wellness Center earns award for innovative design

UMSL's indoor track

A unique indoor track looms large in this image of the Recreation and Wellness Center, which first opened its doors in the summer of 2015. Last month, the national association NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation recognized the campus facility for excellence in architectural design and functionality. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Although its second birthday is already coming up, the Recreation and Wellness Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis remains a relative newcomer on campus. And it’s still turning heads.

In late February, NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation formally recognized the facility with a 2017 Outstanding Sports Facilities Award, commending the RWC for excellence in architectural design and functionality.

Recreation and Wellness Center

Sporting a 155,000-gallon pool, three-court gymnasium, two-story climbing wall, state-of-the-art fitness equipment and more, the LEED Silver-certified UMSL Recreation and Wellness Center has quickly become a go-to gathering place on campus.

“This is a great honor for UMSL, as it shows that the effort put into the planning and design for this building did not go unnoticed,” said Yvette Kell, UMSL’s director of campus recreation. “Those who planned for this facility and saw it through from conception to opening are the ones who deserve the praise this award brings.”

UMSL is one of nine recipients across the U.S. this year, and NIRSA considers each of them a standard by which other collegiate recreational facilities should be measured.

CannonDesign, the global firm that partnered with UMSL during the RWC’s design phase, celebrated news of the award as well.

“In addition to providing the students a state-of-the-art recreation facility,” the firm wrote, “the university created a transformational building, unifying campus buildings, green space and pedestrian pathways at the heart of its campus, all while representing a physical bridge to UMSL’s future.”

UMSL Recreation and Wellness Center

First floated as an idea more than a decade ago, the $36 million, student-fee-funded project broke ground in November 2013.

For Kell, even more gratifying than the design kudos is seeing the facility change the UMSL campus community for the better.

“I hear more and more students talk about staying on campus between classes and coming to the RWC to either study or work out,” she said. “This building is providing a gathering place for students to meet more people, gain healthy life skills and have fun.”

Participation continues to increase, among students and also among faculty and staff.

“I believe we’ll see this trend in all our programs as we continue to grow and incoming classes of students are introduced to the facility as soon as they come on campus,” Kell said. “I see more and more people interacting in different ways within the facility, which I think strengthens our campus community by providing opportunities for communication outside the classroom.”

The UMSL Experience

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