Fully funded from student activity fees and involving students extensively in the design process, the new Student Activities & Recreation Center at the campus of UW Bothell and Cascadia College opened last week for the beginning of fall quarter 2015. Students have already begun making themselves at home, buzzing in the informal lounge spaces, sweating in the fitness facilities, and soaking in campus views.

UW Bothell celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and is now the fastest growing campus in Washington State, while Cascadia College is now projecting double the growth rate of previous years. The Student Activities & Recreation Center draws this diverse, dual campus community together in a socially connected design, combining a fitness center, lounges, student government and club offices, and an event space. Each floor features a different bold color, visually communicating the program elements inside and out like nothing else on campus. The building’s steep edge condition slopes from the forested upper campus down to a 58-acre meadow of sports fields and wetland habitat. Responding to this, a striking green pedestrian bridge frames the transition between levels, while connecting with an existing, adjacent event space to allow larger contiguous events.

Sustainability was a key topic in stakeholder meetings with students, staff, and administration, reflecting UW Bothell and Cascadia College’s many commitments to environmental stewardship and climate change. The natural vegetation and hydrology of the site drive the landscape design, with native, riparian plantings and rain gardens that collect stormwater from the roof drains. The energy-efficient building envelope works together with operable windows, high-volume/low-speed ceiling fans, and hydronic heating to provide year-round thermal comfort. Windows are strategically oriented to capture views, daylight, and ventilation opportunities in harmony with local climate patterns.