The Center for Wellness | The College of New Rochelle
New Rochelle, NY
- New Rochelle, NY
The Wellness Center at the College of New Rochelle is a 55,000 gsf recreation and classroom facility. The challenge was to architecturally express the College’s mission of education through total body, mind and spirit wellness while comfortably fitting into the delicate 19th century residential community where the College is located in metropolitan New York.
The solution resulted in a LEED Silver facility that provides spaces for physical education, academic inquiry and creates a spiritual experience through the use of daylight and form. Approximately half of the facility is submerged into the sloping site to reduce the overall volume and mass of this large building that contains an NCAA competition gymnasium and natatorium. Submerging the natatorium and support facilities below grade not only assisted in comfortably fitting this building into the adjacent low scale residential neighborhood, it also created a sustainable green roof quadrangle that outwardly expresses the College’s mission of ecological stewardship and social responsibility.
The roof garden provides a green landscaped place for contemplation and reflection while reducing heat emission and impervious groundwater runoff. Other sustainable features utilized to outwardly express the College’s social mission include heat recovery technology in the natatorium where escaping heat is recovered from the pool waters and used to supplement building heating during the winter season and natural day lighting in the natatorium and gymnasium. Interior recyclable materials, such as glass chips in the polished concrete flooring of the lobby and cork and rubber athletic flooring of the fitness center provide sustainable approaches to interior materials that also reinforce the metaphoric ideology behind the facility.
The Wellness Center conveys an overall spiritual atmosphere through the use of natural lighting and architectural forms. The design idea is inspired by historical narrative and pictorial accounts of the Garden of Eden, a paradisiacal place of complete and total wellness. For example, the natatorium is a grotto set beneath the sloping site. The use of concrete assisted in being able to create a sinuous sculptural form that is reminiscent of grottos and caverns. Skylights allow day lighting to penetrate into the grotto and artificial lighting to remain off during daylight hours. The gymnasium is a rock outcropping. Clad in locally quarried granite to match the historic buildings on campus, the gymnasium emerges from the adjacent quadrangle and juts out like natural outcroppings over sloping hillsides of the regional landscape.
Finally, the concourse, the pre-function circulation and assembly space set between the gymnasium and the natatorium is a crevasse carved deeply into the sloping site. Fashioned out of granite, concrete and glass, the concourse is an outdoor room overlooking the roof garden. Our architectural approach merges the relationship between building and landscape and in doing so reduces energy consumption and demonstrates good stewardship of the earth. Metaphorically, each of the major program components represents a landform; the natatorium is the grotto; the gymnasium is a rock outcropping and the lobby concourse is a stone crevasse, thereby creating an inspirational and spiritual experience that is sustainable and programmatically functional.