Margot Connell Recreation Center

Boston College’s Margot Connell Recreation Center has been recognized by a leading national technical and trade association. The center, which opened in 2019, received a Design Award for Best Higher Education/University Building from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.

The design awards have “showcased and recognized the creative and innovative use of precast concrete for the past 58 years,” according to PCI. A panel of industry experts that includes engineers, architects, and precast concrete producers judges all nominees on aesthetic, structural, and use versatility; site, energy and operational efficiency, and risk reduction; and resiliency, such as structure durability, multi-hazard protection, and life safety and health.

This year, judges awarded 26 projects and 12 honorable mentions for design excellence in building and transportation categories.

The recreation center “is helping to redefine the academic institution’s culture of fitness and recreation,” per the PCI award description, which noted that the 245,000-square-foot facility houses a fitness center, rock-climbing wall, jogging track, aquatics center, sport courts, yoga studios, and more. “It will provide students with a one-stop destination for all of their fitness needs.”

Connell Center swimming pool

During the building process, long-span precast concrete frame types used pretensioning, hard-bar post-tensioning, and unbonded strand post-tensioning supplemented by conventional mild-steel reinforcement. The aquatics center features custom precast concrete bents spanning 110 ft across and spaced at 22 ft 4 in. on center. Critical construction procedures, shoring, and bracing were required to stabilize the foundation and structure during construction.

The project's PCI-certified precast concrete producer was Unistress Corporation of Pittsfield, Mass. and precast concrete specialty engineer was Blue Ridge Design, Winchester, Va., working with architect and engineer of record Cannon Design of Boston, general contractor Skanska USA Building of Boston, and PCI-certified erector Prime Steel Erecting, Inc. of North Billerica, Mass.

University Communications | March 2021