|The centerpiece of the $12.8 million renovation project is the conversion of the building’s dark, dank second-floor gymnasium into a light-filled fitness center. The 17,000-sf fitness center features all the amenities of a modern workout center—cardio machines, free-weight stations, circuit machines, dumbbells, a spinning room, and workout and classroom space—all situated snugly within the historic gymnasium.|
|At a time when institutions of higher learning are spending tens of millions of dollars erecting massive, cutting-edge recreation and fitness centers, Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., decided to take a more modest, historical approach.
Instead of building an ultra-grand new facility, the university chose to
The centerpiece of the $12.8 million renovation project is the conversion of the building’s dark, dank second-floor gymnasium into a light-filled fitness center. Designed by Lavallee Brensinger Architects of Manchester, N.H., the 17,000-sf fitness center features all the amenities of a modern workout center—cardio machines, free-weight stations, circuit machines, dumbbells, a spinning room, and workout and classroom space—all situated snugly within the historic gymnasium.
The gym’s 1970s-era suspended ceiling system was removed to reveal 10 steel trusses that now cap the space in dramatic fashion. During the day, natural light floods the interior through replacement clerestory windows that mimic the originals. At night, the interior lighting scheme highlights the massive trusses and emphasizes the vast volume of the space.
To meet ADA accessibility standards, the Building Team created a new, universally accessible route to the front door that maintains the historic character of the entrance. A long, sweeping walkway designed at less than a 1:20 slope permits easy access to the building and is free of obtrusive railings. The original tri-part front steps were replaced with a wider, front-entrance staircase that can better handle crowds during periods of peak use.
Inside, a new oversized elevator provides access to all public floors of the building. The elevator also serves as a key design element of the lobby and fitness center, with detailed enclosures at each level.
The Reconstruction Awards judges praised Dartmouth for reviving the campus landmark and were especially pleased with the university’s decision to have the building live on as center for fitness and recreation.
“There are so many facilities like this that have been converted for different use,” said Reconstruction Awards honorary chair Walker C. Johnson, FAIA, principal with Johnson Lasky Architects, Chicago. “I like the fact that they chose to update it for its original use.”
Alumni Gymnasium Renovation, Dartmouth College
Submitting firm: Lavallee Brensinger Architects (architect, interior architect)
Associate architect: HOK Sport
Structural engineer: McFarland Johnson Inc.
Mechanical/electrical engineer: Hallam-ICS
Construction manager: North Branch Construction
Size: 140,000 sf
Construction cost: $12.8 million
Delivery method: CM at risk