The University of Minnesota’s new 175,000-square-foot Recreation and Wellness Center expansion looks to be part Lifetime Fitness, Vertical Endeavors and REI. The building houses dozens of exercise machines, weightlifting areas, a running track, courts for racquet sports, a climbing wall, seven multipurpose rooms (for volleyball, indoor lacrosse, basketball and more), wellness areas and an outdoor equipment rental office. MG McGrath fabricated and installed 21,000 square feet of Dri-Design rain screen panels in natural metal with a zalmag finish and 19,000 square feet of exposed fastener rib panels in natural metal with a zalmag finish.
As construction sites go, the location for the addition to the University of Minnesota Recreation and Wellness Center expansion proved to be a bit of a challenge. The location in the middle of the Minneapolis campus “was a very tight site” near auto and pedestrian thoroughfares and laboratories filled with expensive equipment, said Ken Styrlund, senior vice president in the Minneapolis office of JE Dunn Construction. To prepare the former parking lot for construction, a major fiber optic line had to be relocated and the footings of an adjacent aquatic center had to be bolstered so it could remain open. To help plan for the least disruption, Dunn worked with university staff and the subcontractors to coordinate deliveries to avoid interrupting campus life. An existing rec center built in 1993 also remained open during construction. The result is a popular athletic center with several fitness areas, a running track, a weights area, climbing wall, offices and a cafe. The architectural highlights include a curtain wall exterior that allows students walking by to peer into the five-level facility and see any number of activities, said Styrlund. One of the more dramatic pieces in the building is a third-story suspended running track that overlooks floors of equipment beneath it. “That was the only place the architects could get the running track to fit,” he said. “It intermixes with everything else going on.” -Finance & Commerce