University Recreation Center Awarded Certificate of Merit for Design

March 22, 2023

The design and construction firms responsible for the University Recreation Center were awarded a Certificate of Merit by the State Building Commission in the category of Excellence in Design. The award was presented during the annual state construction conference, held March 2.

UREC was a collaborative design and construction project with Jenkins Peer Architects and CannonDesign. Impressive in every way, UREC is a landmark on UNC Charlotte’s campus, though not all of the unique design features may be noticed by visitors. The following are some of the design innovations that were thoughtfully incorporated into the design and construction of the building, ultimately leading to this award.

  • Intentional interior design - The interior design of UREC purposefully highlights the University’s history and Charlotte’s rich gold mining history. It also echoes students’ goals and aspirations through wall graphics.
  • A nod to gold mining history - Gold runs through the veins of this campus, but an interpretive gold mining experience was intentionally designed into UREC. This is best described by Jenkins Peer Architects: The main circulation spine throughout the building threads together with a continuous band capturing the essence of a gold mining sieve flowing from the entry all the way through the facility to the pool. The design reflects a “sifting” concept that can be found on various materials throughout, including acoustic ceiling panels, the reception desk and flooring, by using porous textures with elements that mimic the suspended particles seen when panning for gold.
  • Strategically placed - Though a massive structure, the available land area for the project provided a challenge for designers. Ultimately, UREC was strategically placed to maximize area use, while remaining mindful of cost-saving solutions, even leaving room for future expansion.
  • Wide open spaces - If you’ve been in UREC, you’ve likely been awed by the open spaces, whether for the indoor pool or multiple sports courts. The need for vast spaces led to an innovative use of vibro replacement techniques to ensure load-bearing capacities for an open-floored structure of this size.
  • Let the light shine - UREC stands out from surrounding academic buildings through strategic use of windows and glazed mirrors, allowing natural light to flow throughout the building.
  • Sustainably-focused - Design and construction choices were made to ensure this structure met and exceeded sustainable design standards. UREC boasts two Green Globe certifications, awarded by the Green Building Initiative.

The 148,000 square-foot, five-story building opened its doors January 2020 and is lauded as the first and only campus facility dedicated solely to health and recreation. For more information about the $66 million project, this detailed timeline and timelapse video shows the history of the design and construction process.

Photographed left to right: Victor Jones, Jenkins Peer Architects; Kathryn Horne, UNC Charlotte; Jim Walczyk, UNC Charlotte; Mari Ross, UNC Charlotte; Dan Van Dyke, Jenkins Peer Architects; and Thomas Tonetti, Jenkins Peer Architect