The 98,000-square-foot Wade King Student Recreation Center serves as the gateway and primary gathering place for Western Washington University’s south campus expansion.
In order to reduce the bulk of some of the large-volume spaces, the building was carved into a west-sloping hillside. That challenged the design and construction teams because the site has poor soil bearing capacity and solid rock that reaches all the way to the surface.
Another challenge was posed by the facility’s swimming pool and sunken spa. The solution required excavating portions of the rock, using the rock to form cast-in-place retaining walls, and supporting the building with concrete piles and caps. Large retaining walls were used to reduce the visual impact of the building, provide durable interior finishes, and allow for substantial daylight and views to the forested slope.
The design of the student center was inspired from various WWU’s existing historic campus structures, including: the stone and brick walls of Old Main; the concrete terraces and brick walls of Red Square; and the concrete elements of Haskell Plaza.
Inside, the building houses a rock climbing wall and three weight and cardio areas. The facility also has a three-court gym, a three-lane elevated track, multi-activity court, a six-lane lap and leisure pool, 25-person whirlpool, locker rooms, two group exercise rooms, a wellness resource room, conference room and a cafe.
Cast-in-place concrete was used because it allows for large, open floor plates while minimizing sound transmission from second floor fitness spaces to the sensitive administrative spaces below. Also, the thermal mass of the concrete structure, combined with the open planning and operable windows, provides integrated passive cooling. Its long-term durability and maintenance was an important factor, as well as the sports courts’ extra demanding uses which require impact and moisture resistance, as well as elimination of vibration.
Exposed concrete was used to reduce the need for applied finishes, contributing to a healthier indoor environment. In keeping with the consistency of the campus’ existing materials aesthetics, the SRC’s structure requires the use of a blend of 50% white cement and 50% gray cement.
The center is one of the first of its kind in the country that meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification requirements. Future campus additions will continue to use the advantages that only concrete can bring.
Owner/developer: Western Washington University
General Contractor: Dawson Construction
Architects: BJSS Duarte Bryant and Opsis Architecture
Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers
Ready-mix supplier: Ferndale Ready Mix and Gravel