Texas A&M University Southside Recreation Center
A new student recreation center illustrates how smart, efficient planning merged with elegant detailing and sustainable site design can elevate the student experience and activate a quiet side of campus.
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Architecture, Athletics, Recreation, & Wellness, Higher Education, Interiors, Landscape Architecture, MEP Engineering
NIRSA Outstanding Facilities Award, 2023
The flagship campus of Texas A&M boasts one of the largest student bodies in the country, with more than 66,800 students. To ensure fitness and wellness is easily accessible to all of its students, the university selected SmithGroup to design a new satellite recreation facility for the Southside area of the College Station campus.
The 63,000-square-foot building blends elegantly with the site and the campus vernacular. An existing row of live oaks was protected to frame a grand entry plaza on Bizzell, a main campus arterial street, with a crosswalk and direct pedestrian path to student residences. A perforated metal scrim along the Bizzell Street facade mimics the dynamic expression of the oaks, while the building’s rhythm, proportions and native limestone finishes integrate with nearby buildings.
To address the hot Texas climate, high-performance glazing with integrated ceramic frit patterns and perpendicular shading fins reduce heat gain. A large overhang on the south and west facades further protects the glazing and provides shaded exterior space. As a result, occupants enjoy abundant natural light and pleasing views. Bioswales around the bike parking area gather water during the region’s substantial rainy season and distribute it to a detention area south of the facility. Lush native planting around the building’s base further controls rainwater runoff. All plantings and hardscape, along with the exterior limestone, were sourced within 100 miles.
Inside, the design is smart in its simplicity. A central spine with the lobby and support services anchors two high-bay fitness areas. The south bay is devoted to strength and conditioning in a 100’ x 240’ rectangular space that maximizes efficiency and flexibility for equipment placement. A slam wall and functional floor workout area occupy one end, where full-height windows afford pleasing daylight and views of the adjacent university golf course. The south bay also provides access to a large covered outdoor workout terrace.
The other high bay on the building’s north side is used for two multi-purpose sports courts. Adjacent outdoor space features two volleyball courts and another exterior activity zone. The building’s central spine includes a mezzanine with cardio equipment and an exercise studio, a bouldering wall, locker rooms and support services. Throughout the building, bold branding with the university’s signature Aggie maroon activates the space and builds on its unique campus culture.