Colleen McKenna, director of CannonDesign’s sports and recreation practice, has authored a new piece for Athletic Business on key trends shaping collegiate facility design that has published online and in their June 2019 issue. Colleen’s piece highlights how collegiate sports and recreation facilities are advancing new wellness opportunities, investing in multi-disciplinary partnerships to benefits students, and also pursuing new funding models to make important projects a reality. Specifically, it looks at projects with Virginia Tech, University of Colorado Denver, University of Maryland, Harper College and Wilfrid Laurier University.
The full article is available online. Below is a key excerpt on wellness:
The Rise of Wellness
The definition of wellness has evolved over the past decade from simply the absence of disease to a much more holistic view of mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Today’s students are more empowered than ever to track their activity levels, heart rates and stress indicators. They can download fitness plans and apps in a moment’s notice from anywhere, and yet, today’s students aren’t necessarily well. Consider the statistics in the next column.
These measures don’t paint an overly healthy picture of today’s collegiate student body, but they are motivating institutions to rethink how they move beyond just recreation to create centers that help students deal with challenges and achieve more holistic wellness. Virginia Tech is one such institution setting a new standard for recreation and wellness integration with its War Memorial Hall project.
Set to open in 2021, the renovated and expanded War Memorial Hall will unite the university’s School of Education; Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise; Hokie Wellness; and Recreational Sports under a single roof to best help students live healthy lives. Yes, the building will feature basketball courts and weights and cardio spaces, but it will also offer nutritional kitchens, relaxation spaces, touch-down counseling spaces and more for students.
“The rejuvenated War Memorial Hall will also amplify health and wellness in our academic units, like Public Health,” says Ali Cross, Virginia Tech’s recreational sports director. “As our academic teams learn more about what we can do and offer, the synergies and programs that develop will help students on new levels.”
Chris Wise, vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech, shares that the project looks beyond its own walls, too. “Once this building opens, we’re also going to establish a new live-learn community focused on wellbeing in the residential hall next to War Memorial. The two buildings are literally footsteps from one another. I think it’s going to be one of the most unique LLC environments in the country, and it demonstrates how partnerships with other departments can equate to better health outcomes for students.”
The University of Colorado Denver is another institution leading by example with its Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, designed to foster a culture of sustainability, healthy lifestyles and disease prevention. The facility is unique in its combination of a fitness center, health clinic and research labs, a green roof with vegetable and herb gardens, a healthy bistro, a research and educational grocery lab, and meeting and classroom space.
This shift toward wellness is truly still in its infancy. Understanding this, Virginia Tech is even infusing an entrance link into its War Memorial building that Wise says can be used as a testing area for new student wellness ideas and offerings. “It’s really unique to have a location where we can pilot leading-edge health and wellness trends and determine which make the most sense to integrate into the center of the future,” he added.