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Purdue University France A. Cordova Recreational Sports Center

Moody Nolan

Project Name

Purdue University France A. Cordova Recreational Sports Center


355 N. Martin Jischke Drive


Project Status


Year Completed



420,000 sq. feet


Purdue University


  • Structural Engineer: Fink Roberts and Petrie, Inc.
  • Mechanical Engineer: BSA LifeStructures
  • Landscape Architect: MKSK
  • Other: Counsilman-Hunsaker
  • Interior and Lighting Designer: CD+M Lighting Design Group, LLC
  • Other: Ralph Gerdes Consultants, LLC
  • Other: Merck & Hill
  • Construction Manager: Turner Construction Company

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Project Description


At this university, three existing antiquated and windowless boxes housing fitness, gymnasiums and aquatic spaces were turned “inside out.”  In the existing 350,000 GSF existing complex, convoluted circulation corridors between windowless spaces gave no sense of way finding and no hint of activity.  An outdoor track and complex crisscrossing campus utilities hemmed in the site, while opposite side parking and campus entries demanded and deserved equal attention.  The competitive aquatics wing was connected only by hidden back corridors. The main parking area had only a bunker-like external turnstile entry, making the most highly used entrance both uninviting and difficult to control.

The need to maintain the on-going operation of non-relocatable gyms and pools, and to minimize disruption to continuing services, drove the creation of swing space that ultimately added indoor turf spaces to the complex.  A clever infill stacking of spaces within an existing courtyard and selective demolition of a central gym of the multi-building complex allowed remaining components to be reconnected by an open, airy atrium of activity and transparency.

The new design is expressed on the exterior as light-filled volumes of glass and stone, which give the center a new, more inviting face, strongly contrasting and complementing the brick vernacular of the existing facility and campus.  It is through these new elements that the sports center now establishes strong visual connections to the surrounding campus, where previously there were none.  The central concourse/atrium space stitches together the existing disparate spaces, bringing natural light deep into the heart of the facility, even reaching its lowest levels. The concourse also serves as an organizing element, connecting the new east and west entrances; a monumental stair connects all five levels of the facility.

The interior design is conceptualized as “neighborhoods of activity”:  diverse fitness activities and varying degrees of openness and programmatic / physical overlaps.  Major new spaces added to the facility include a feature gym, leisure pool, climbing and bouldering walls, a fitness pavilion on the south end, volleyball courts, a multi-activity court, a wellness suite and a demonstration kitchen.  A stroll through the sports center reveals dense layering of spaces, and a transparency that sometimes appears to extend through the entire building, both horizontally and vertically (in section).  The new facility is fully accessible.

Sustainability was a critical objective, resulting in LEED Gold.  Over 90% of the demolished structure was salvaged and reused. Glass curtainwall on two elevations, combined with a strategically placed clerestory, substantially increased natural daylight. Heat gain is mitigated with fritted, high efficiency glazing and sun shades/shelves.  Additionally, low energy fixtures, automatic lighting control, and daylight harvesting are used throughout.  Numerous HVAC system initiatives were introduced, including variable air volume, heat recovery, low energy chilled beam system, relief air reutilization for locker room makeup air, and a heat reclaim chiller for domestic water preheating. The computer energy performance model suggests that the new facility will exceed the baseline code compliance by 17.5%, using less energy than the smaller, non-air conditioned original facility.  Low-flow, sensor operated plumbing fixtures are incorporated throughout the project for water conservation.  Landscape elements include native vegetation and bio-retention beds in the parking lot/plaza.

In addition to meeting strict recreational needs, the new 420,000 sf facility meets a number of previously unmet campus large format programs, as it is quickly becoming a preferred destination for social functions and gathering
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