Colby’s Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center has earned the acclaim of athletes, coaches, and spectators since it opened in fall 2020. The 354,000-square-foot complex on the north side of campus also continues to win national and international recognition for its design, function, sustainability, and overall architectural appeal.
The building has earned a dozen prestigious awards or recognitions from regional, national, and global organizations that specialize in sports, recreation, and architecture. On Wednesday night, it received a merit award in the Honor Award for Design Excellence category in the annual Boston Society for Architecture Gala.
The Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center places the College at the forefront of Division III athletics and as a leader in athletics facility programming, quality, and performance, said Mike Wisecup, vice president and Harold Alfond Director of Athletics at Colby. Coming from a variety of organizations, the awards affirm Colby’s commitment to all-around excellence, he said.
“The new building and surrounding landscape are the epicenter for athletics, recreation, health, and wellness on campus,” Wisecup said. “The breadth, scale, and quality allows for the entire campus and local community to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle.”
Hopkins Architects of London was the lead design architect on the project, and Sasaki of Boston served as the architect of record. Consigli managed the construction.
The awards so far:
- Boston Society for Architecture, Honor Award for Design Excellence: merit award
- American Institute of Architects, New England Design Awards: merit award
- International Civic Trust Awards: award winner
- Athletic Business Magazine: facility of merit
- World Architecture News, Leisure category: silver award
- Engineering News-Record New England: Best Sports/Entertainment Project, Excellence in Sustainability Award of Merit; Excellence in Safety Award of Merit
- NIRSA: Leaders in College Education: Outstanding Facilities Award
- Architecture A+ Awards, Sports and Recreation Centers category: jury winner
- Architecture MasterPrize: recreational architecture winner
- Green Building Showcase 2022, Market Leader Award Series, sites and landscape category
In addition to the awards, the building has been certified LEED Platinum, the highest green-building rating, and the College has received SITES Gold certification for the site and landscape design associated with the 31-acre complex. Key sustainability components include optimizing natural light, minimizing embodied carbon, and reducing energy and water use as well as carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.
The building has garnered attention for its ability to provide outstanding athletic experiences for athletes and fans, its environmentally friendly and sustainable design, and its overall architectural qualities. The building’s design, described as both bold and elegant, complements Colby’s traditional campus architecture with the three-floor building developed to emphasize daylight and openness, maximize views, and convey a sense of intimacy despite its scale.
Built into the ground on a raised site across from Johnson Pond, the building brings together all of Colby’s indoor competition venues, as well as training, recreation, and support areas, into one space. It includes the Aquatics Center and Olympic-size Myrtha pool, O’Neil | O’Donnell Forum and Jack Kelley Ice Rink, Margaret M. Crook Center and Whitmore-Mitchell Basketball Court, Boulos Family Fitness Center, O’Neil Family Wellness Studios, Papadellis Family Erg Room, and Indoor Competition Center with the Aidan’s Climbing and Bouldering Wall. The three-story David F. O’Donnell Courtyard brings light into the heart of the building, on all levels.
Chris Sgarzi, senior principal and architect at Sasaki, noted that the awards have come from a range of sources. “We have awards from within the design industry, from the sports and recreation world, and from the leisure industry, both national and international,” he said. “It is rewarding that the recognition is broad and diverse.”
The recognition from the Boston Society for Architecture was especially meaningful, he said.
“The BSA Awards Gala is an annual gathering to celebrate the best of design in the New England area or by New England design firms. It is really an honor for this project to be recognized with this prestigious award within the competitive design-excellence category,” Sgarzi said. “This project was truly a collaborative effort, and it began with a client that recognizes the value of design and is willing to engage with and trust a cohesive design team and a robust process.”
Sgarzi attended Colby’s Winter Sports Celebration in early December and was pleased with everything he saw and experienced. “There was so much enthusiasm around the building and how it’s operating and how it works for athletics, recreation, and the whole community. That was our goal.”
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