University of California, Riverside Student Recreation Center

Riverside, CA

Daniel MacRitchie | Lighting/ Electrical Option



Student Biography
Building Statistics
Thesis Abstract
Technical Assignments
Thesis Proposal
Final Report
Senior Thesis e-Studio

General Building Data

  • Building Name: University of California Riverside Recreation Center
  • Location and Site: 900 University Ave Riverside, CA
  • Building Occupant Name: University of California, Riverside
  • Occupancy or Function Types: A-3 Recreation Center
  • Size: 15,984 SF Renovation, 79,936 SF Addition
  • Stories: 2
  • Primary Project Team
  • Dates of Construction: August 16th, 2012 to January 2014
  • Building Cost: $36.9 Million including construction costs
  • Project Delivery Method: Design-Bid-Build


The remodeling of the University of California, Riverside Recreation Center includes a 16,000 SF renovation of the existing building and an 80,000 SF expansion.  The first floor of the existing building contains mostly offices, a reception area, and a multipurpose room.  The second floor is connected to the expansion by a breezeway containing a fitness area and another multipurpose space.  The expansion is located to the south of the existing building and has a mostly open plan on both floors containing offices, lockers, fitness rooms and a rock climbing wall.  A running track on the second floor surrounds the double height exercise rooms and gymnasium.  Located outside, to the south of the expansion, is a pool with both swimming lanes and a recreational portion mimicking the shape of the building.  The curvilinear design of the building allows the students to look out over the pool, campus, and surrounding landscape while they exercise in the fitness rooms making up the majority of the perimeter spaces.

Major Codes

Buildings built in Riverside must comply with the codes mandated by the California Building Standards Commission.  These include:

  • California Building Code 2010
  • California Mechanical Code 2010
  • California Plumbing Code 2010
  • California Electric Code 2010
  • California Green Code 2010
  • 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards


The University of California, Riverside Campus is part of the Public Facilities Zone(PF) in Riverside, California.  Zoning requirements for buildings in this zone include:

  • 20 ft setbacks from all property lines
  • Maximum height of 60 ft or 4 stories, whichever is less
  • Continuously maintained landscaping
  • Utility substations and other similar facilities must be surrounded by screening materials

Building Facades

The new building façade incorporates elements of the existing building in order to integrate the expansion but also uses some new materials to bring a more modern feel.  The brick from the existing building is used on the first floor façade.  Curtain wall glazing that is similar to the glazing on the existing building is also used on the first floor, but much more extensively.  Glazed aluminum curtain walls and metal wall panels are used on the upper floors, giving the building a more modern look.  The brick veneer and metal wall panels are supported by metal studs and are insulated by both rigid and batt insulation.  A perforated metal screen sunshade is also used on the upper floors to limit the amount of sunlight entering the building.


The roofing system is metal roof deck topped by tapered insulation, cover board, and pvc membrane roofing for weatherproofing.

Sustainability Features

The building is designed and is to be constructed to achieve a LEED Silver rating at minimum, but a LEED Gold rating is the target.  Sustainable strategies that have been implemented in the design and construction of this building include:

    • Occupancy sensing
    • Daylighting
    • Using low power lighting fixtures

    Primary Engineering Systems


    The addition and renovation to the current student recreation center will cost about 36.9 million dollars and the project was a design-bid-build project.


    The electrical system for the building is fed from the campus’ electrical distribution system which distributes power at 12 kV.  The 12kV feed is spliced in a manhole and feeds two outdoor, liquid filled, pad mounted transformers to the east of the building.  One of these transformers provides 480/277V power to an 800A switchboard while the other provides 208/120V power to a 1,000A switchboard.  The 480/277V switchboard serves all of the motors in the building and a majority of the lighting.  The only lighting loads that are served by the 208/120V system are the emergency lighting loads in the elevator shafts.  This allows the for more luminaires to be placed on each lighting branch circuit than if they were powered at 120V.  The 208/120V switchboard serves receptacle loads for all of the space in the building, the data rooms and also provides power to two junction boxes outside intended for use by a coffee truck and a food truck.  Both of the building’s new switchboards have transient voltage surge suppression devices to protect the electrical system from electrical surges from the campus distribution system.


    The lighting systems consists of primarily LED, linear fluorescent and high intensity discharge sources with a few compact fluorescent sources to minimize the lighting power density of the building.  The hardscape areas surrounding the building are illuminated by three foot compact fluorescent bollards and twelve foot linear fluorescent column luminaires.  The area under the breezeway between the existing building and underneath the building’s overhang uses LED downlights to provide the proper illuminance.  Once inside, the occupant encounters similar light sources in linear fluorescent and LED.  Circulation spaces such as lobbies and corridors use either two by two, parabolic, recessed linear fluorescent troffers or one by four, lensed, recessed linear fluorescent troffers.  Industrial style linear fluorescent luminaires are used in back of the house spaces such as electrical rooms, storage spaces and workshop areas to reduce lighting power density while minimizing the cost of the luminaires.  The workout areas are primarily lit with fluorescent as well, with the weight rooms illuminated by two by two, parabolic, linear fluorescent troffers and the track illuminated by lensed, recessed linear fluorescent troffers that follow the shape of the track.  The only exception to this is in the double height workout area to the west of the gymnasium.  This space is illuminated by recessed LED strips and LED cove fixtures.  Metal halide luminaires are used in the gymnasium and rock wall space to provide adequate illumination.  The emergency fixtures in these spaces use a halogen infrared lamp to provide illuminance in emergency mode.  The building also reduces its power consumption by using undercabinet lights at desks in the lobby, rock wall space and massage rooms to reduce the required average illuminance in the whole space.  The building also integrates daylight in the form of both skylights in the double height workout area and sidelight in the perimeter workout areas, lobby and rok wall space.  Daylight sensors and occupancy sensors are used in the perimeter workout areas and the double height workout area to dim the luminaires in the spaces when there is sufficient daylight.  This helps to further reduce the building’s dependency on electric lighting.


    The existing mechanical system had to be updated in order to have the capacity to serve all of the existing spaces as well as all of the spaces in the addition.  The supply air fans in two of the existing air handling units were replaced and variable frequency drives were added to provide increased capacity and to allow the air handling units to save energy when they do not need to be operating at full capacity.  Three air handling units were added to the mechanical system to supply ventilation and cooling to the addition.  One of these air handling units serves the first floor of the addition, another serves the second floor of the addition and the last air handling unit serves the gymnasium.  The mechanical system makes use of variable air volume controllers to limit the amount of air to a space when it is unoccupied.  This saves energy for the entire building by reducing the cooling load on the building.  A few of these variable air volume controllers use carbon dioxide sensors in order to provide demand controlled ventilation to the classrooms, training rooms and conference rooms.


    The building’s structural system consists of a steel frame above grade and a concrete foundation.  The beams and girders for the framing for the second floor and roof are primarily I-beams with varying depths and weights.  Moment connections and beam stiffener connections are used around the perimeter of the building to prevent lateral forces such as wind or an earthquake.  The steel columns span from the roof down to the foundation where they are terminated on spread footings.  These footings vary in size from three feet by three feet to nine feet by nine feet.  Underneath these footings is a concrete pile with steel reinforcing to provide additional support.  The remaining portion of the foundation is comprised of a concrete wall around the perimeter of the building.  The first floor is formed by a slab on grad and the second level floor is formed by a concrete slab on metal deck.  The sun screen is supported by horizontal tube supports running across the exterior of the building.

    Fire Protection

    The fire protection system consists of an addressable system with many different detection, notification and suppression devices.  The building uses beam type smoke detectors in the gymnasium and surface mounted smoke detectors in the other required spaces.  The occupants in the building are notified of a potential problem by strobes or speaker strobes depending on the space in which they are located.  The sprinkler system is a dry type system so water only flows when there is a fire that needs to be suppressed.


    The vertical circulation in the building is aided by the locations of three staircases and two elevators.  The three staircases are located at the southeast corner of the addition, just inside the main entrance to the addition and just inside the entrance to the renovated portion of the existing building.  The elevators are located just past the lobbies for the existing building and additions that are located off of the breezeway.


    The telecommunication system for the building consists of single mode fiber coming into the building in room 1127 and a combination of single mode and multimode fiber distributing the service to the rest of the data rooms in the building.  There are four data rooms on the first floor and one on the second floor, each with their own data rack.  The telephone system uses voice over IP.

Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work-in-progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Dan MacRitchie. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.
This page was last updated 01/23/2013, by Dan MacRitchie and is hosted by the AE Department ©2012