Awards: National Facility of Merit Winner at Annual Athletic Business Conference
The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, in addition to providing a full program of athletic activities, is designed to link a number of existing athletic facilities and complete a campus master plan. By visually linking the south facades of the Johnson Athletic Center and the Stratton Student Center, it completes the north wall of a quadrangle envisioned by Eero Saarinen in his master plan for the development west of Massachusetts Avenue.
The center contains a natatorium with an Olympic sized pool and a six-lane, 75-yard teaching and lap pool. As the natatorium volume rises up to the building roof, the other activity spaces surround and overlook it. The administrative offices and the health fitness facility are located along the south side of the building on the second floor. The multi-activity court, six squash courts, and spectator seating are on the third floor.
A curved glass wall that matches the height of the Johnson and Stratton buildings develops a sense of continuity with the adjacent buildings; and its transparency, especially at night, reveals the health fitness opportunities available within the building. The insulating glass panels are composed of patterned glass on the exterior and tinted gray glass on the inside face. This combination produces a thermally efficient wall which permits views out while reducing glare in the activity space. Along the first floor a series of arcades formed by limestone columns and beams repeats the materials of the neoclassical academic buildings to the east, helping to relate this complex to the main campus.
Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center has been considered an architectural marvel since first opening its doors to the MIT community in the Fall of 2002. Hailed for its extensive programming possibilities as well as its breathtaking glass facade, the Zesiger Center was honored as one of 10 National Facility of Merit Winners at the 22nd Annual Athletic Business Conference in the Orlando County Convention Center. The awards program recognizes facilities that set the design and functionality standard for athletic, recreation and fitness projects.