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First look: Modern update for St. Edward’s Rec Center

A remodel and expansion by Specht Architects invites all students in and connects to the rest of the campus

St. Edward’s Recreation and Athletic Center
All photos by Andrea Calo

St. Edward’s University revealed its new Recreation and Athletic Center this week, releasing photos of the remodeled complex, complete with a 12,400 square foot addition designed by designed by Austin-based and much-lauded Specht Architects.

The new take on the existing building, built in the mid-1980s, has a focus on holistic wellness in addition to purely athletic pursuits. It features new fitness facilities that include yoga studios, a wellness center, and a mediation center, centered in the middle of campus and designed with an openness and connection to the environment.

The latter is a revision that helps overcome the psychic and physical isolation of the original athletics center, surrounded by parking lots and somewhat disconnected from the rest of student life at the university. The addition also enhances the perception of and possibilities for fitness, enhancing the facilities’ original a basketball arena, squash courts, and athletics offices with spaces for more personalized pursuit wellness—and connecting the concept to the university as a whole.

The new center is a building that “engages the student body, embodying the idea of fitness and wellness as a major element of a well-rounded education,” says Scott Specht, founder of Specht Architects.

The addition wraps the campus-facing side of the facility. A portion of the building that extends toward the center of campus incorporates outdoor stadium seating that faces a new plaza for performances and presentations, as well as activating a new pedestrian-oriented space to replace the former parking lot.

A new studio/yoga space, designed as a glass cube that floats above the entry plaza, is the focal point of the new facility. The feature is provides an inviting presence to what was previously a dark and underoccupied end of the main campus green, according to the architects.

Specht Architects designed the award-winning Doyle Hall on the St. Edward’s campus and a number of significant buildings in Austin and Central Texas.

Chelsea Purgahn
Andrea Calo
Chelsea Purgahn