January 17, 2021

PCI Names Boston College Connell Recreation Center Best Higher Education Building

We are grateful to share the Boston College Connell Recreation Center has earned distinction as the Precast Concrete Institute (PCI) 2021 Higher Education Building of the Year.

The Connell Recreation Center is a unique facility both rooted in the tradition of Boston College’s collegiate gothic architecture and infused with leading-edge 21st century programming space and amenities. Standing four stories tall, the 244,000 sf center is a beacon for the campus that redefines the future of fitness, recreation and wellness.

Programmatically, the Connell Center houses extensive fitness space, a rock-climbing wall, jogging track, aquatics center, basketball courts, indoor tennis, an elevated jogging track (perfect for Boston Marathon training), mind-body studio, group exercise rooms and fitness neighborhoods.

Our integrated structural engineering team was able to execute the unique design features found throughout the facility. The structure includes two long-span precast concrete frame types that deliver a unique combination of pretensioning, hard-bar post-tensioning, and unbounded strand post-tensioning. It is supplemented by conventional mild-steel reinforcement to deliver a column-free space. In addition to gravity loads, the frames provide lateral force-resisting systems to satisfy seismic performance criteria.

The large span frames each feature five precast concrete components to meet the functional and aesthetic requirements. To ensure the highest level of control, the project was accomplished with a staged construction analysis, where each stage required consideration of prestressing and shoring to avoid cracks in the concrete and to support subsequent construction stages.

The full PCI award write up on the Connell Recreation Center, along with a full list of winners, is available online. Each year, the PCI program helps the design and construction community innovate and advance by showcasing ideas that push the envelope, overcome challenges and improve upon existing concepts. It demonstrates how teams continue to utilize high performance precast concrete to achieve sustainable, cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing and quickly- and quality-constructed projects.

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